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OFCCP Wants More Data For Compliance; Seeks to Strengthen Veteran Recruitment

by
John Zappe
Jun 13, 2011, 1:15 am ET

Two proposals from the Federal Office of Contract Compliance Programs, now open for public comment, seek to require federal contractors and their subs to do more to hire veterans and to provide more information and data in the event of a compliance audit.

So far, neither of the proposals seems to have caused much of a stir, despite nearly unanimous mentions in the various analyses of the additional paperwork and increased obligations on federal contractors.

Littler Mendelson, one of the largest employment law firms in the country, says the OFFCCP focus on veterans “significantly expands the obligations of federal contractors and subcontractors.”

Another firm, McGuireWoods, referred to the proposal for additional data as both “burdensome” and “stealthy.” The firm notes in its analysis, “The agency (OFCCP) does not understand the private sector or have any apparent concern about the burdens and confidentiality issues these proposals place on contractors.”

The OFCCP itself estimated it would take 103.2 hours and cost $135,000 to collect and provide all the data that could be requested in the so-called “Scheduling Letter” — the notice of compliance audit — should the changes it wants be adopted. (The OFCCP has to get permission from the Office of Management and Budget for changes to the document and data provisions.)

Complying with the veterans rules is estimated to cost each contractor $396 a year and take 10.7 hours a year.

The paperwork proposals apply to employers with contracts of $100,000 or more and 50 employees. They expand the specific information the OFCCP wants in a compliance audit from 11 to 13 different items and also specifies how the data is to be presented. For instance, application, hire, promotion, and termination data will have to be organized by racial/ethnic group, and not simply by the broader minority/non-minority designation.

With the initial response to the audit notice, the employer must submit all company personnel documents. This would include such things as employee manuals and leave policies. Promotions and terminations (layoffs) will have to include the actual candidate pools for each.

McGuireWoods, a 900-attorney firm based in Richmond, Virginia, calls the proposed changes to the paperwork provisioning proposal “significant and problematic.” Its analysis includes links to the relevant documents from the OFCCP, which detail the specifics.

The veterans proposal is more far-reaching in that it requires contractors to more aggressively pursue the hiring of ex-military workers. Some of the provisions apply to most federal contractors, while some of the paperwork retention requirements have thresholds of 150 employees and $150,000.

Charu Avasthy, a consultant with Berkshire Associates, says the proposals will require contractors to affirmatively pursue the recruitment of veterans, and to have the records to demonstrate their efforts.

“It is an additional burden,” she said, but it’s not a whole new set of regulations. “I see these more as the means of getting the contractor community to increase the outreach and recruitment of the veterans.”

She is one of the authors of a Berkshire Associates whitepaper on the subject: “Effective Veteran Outreach — Understanding the Compliance Requirements.”

Besides broadening some of the recordkeeping, the proposal does require contractors to set annual hiring goals — benchmarks — that are derived from a consideration of such things as the percentage of veterans in a state’s labor force, the number of vets participating in the employment service delivery system in the contractor’s home state, and the contractor’s own assessment of the effectiveness of their recruitment and outreach.

To improve veteran hiring, one of the changes requires contractors to commit to “linkage agreements” with recruitment and/or training organizations, including with veterans’ employment representatives at local employment service offices.

The linkage agreements must be part of an expanded outreach and recruitment effort; the proposal requires a minimum of three specific types of efforts. In addition, contractors must provide notice of job vacancies for most types of positions to state employment services and in the format the state requires.

Candidates, who previously were asked to self-identify as veterans after receiving an offer, now must be invited to self-identify upfront. The proposal also more specifically defines which veterans are covered by the provisions: those recently separated; service medal veterans; disabled vets; and, active duty wartime or campaign veterans.

Berkshire’s Avasthy suggests contractors review the proposals (which are extensive and in legalese) and submit comments before the June 27th deadline. The OFCCP, she says, may modify some of the proposals or even eliminate some provisions after reviewing the comments. In any case, Avasthy suspects any changes that are made won’t go into effect until mid-2012 at the earliest.

The comment period for the expansion of the data and paperwork provisioning requirements for contractors being audited closes July 11. Information on how to submit comments is here.

For the provisions regarding veterans, the comment period closes June 27. The OFCCP details how to submit those comments here.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Bill Gallop

    I recruit specifically in this market and have been for the last 6+ years. Though I commend OFCCP for it attempt to increase Veteran hires this is the WRONG way to do it.

    This proposed legislation does nothing but create another layer of administrative work for companies and Human Resource Departments. The reports now required are detailed to the point of insanity and now they want to add MORE to it. The penalties for failure to comply are even worse.

    The time and effort being put into these regulations would be better spent training veterans in skills needed in civilian life.

    BILL GALLOP
    Contract Technical Recruiter (DoD / Intel)

  2. Lisa Rosser

    I commend OFCCP for wanting to put a little more “teeth” behind the requirement. No longer will doing the minimum (posting open positions with the state workforce database) be considered doing enough when it comes to veteran outreach and recruitment.

    Recruiters and hiring managers are going to have to educate themselves on military skill sets and develop an understanding of how those skills are an asset to the organization. They are going to have to recognize where they have biases (expressed or not) against military (i.e., their level of education, fear of bring PTSD into the workplace, unwillingness to support Guard/Reserve commitments, etc.) and seek to understand where those biases come from and why they are detrimental.

    The organizations that develop a clear strategy and plan for recruiting veterans will have much of the documentation they need to show what they did to increase outreach efforts and associated results (i.e. hires) for that effort.

    Lisa Rosser
    Military Recruiting Consultant
    The Value Of a Veteran
    http://www.TheValueOfaVeteran.com

  3. Keith Halperin

    I commend whatever efforts will help increase the hiring of veterans. As far as increased paperwork, go hire as many $2.75 virtual assistants as you need to get it done…

    Cheers,

    Keith

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  5. Jacquelyn Anderson

    If passed, these new regulations will add additional reporting issues on HR departments and recruiting personnel. There are already strong pressures within organizations to move quickly to fill an opening. And with more and more companies using ATS systems that look for keywords in a resume, the potential for missing military candidates will still be there.

    I don’t believe that adding more regulations is going to solve this problem. Maybe it’s time for military organizations to evaluate how military experiences/skills match up with the larger business world.

  6. Robert Ruff

    I think I’d worry a lot more about actually hiring some veterans and a lot less about compliance.

  7. Bill Gallop

    I am afraid not worrying about compliance is like not paying your taxes… only these folks really do audit you.

    The fines are incredible too… including a “Death Penalty” for companies and individual fines to employees who knowingly break the rules.

    Unfortunately there is not much call for a person who can fire an M-16 or lead a squad of men on a Recon mission. Service members need to be able to translate THEIR skills into civilian speak… not the other way around.

  8. Lisa Rosser

    To build on one of Jacquelyn’s comments regarding the ATS searching for keywords, I find that when recruiters are searching for veterans on military job boards, they are using civilian keywords, and as a result are not getting many hits. Once they change the key words they are using to reflect the fact that a number of resumes in those databases are not well translated into civilian-speak, they start to find a lot of great candidates.

    @Bill – yes, the military member needs to get better at translating their skills, but that is easier said than done. What frame of reference does an “Executive officer” or a “command sergeant major” have to come up with an equivalent civilian occupational title? Should infantry men limit themselves to law enforcement jobs and armor/tankers to driving garbage trucks? Not hardly.

    When civilian recruiters take the steps to educate themselves on military occupations and understand how military grade levels associate with levels of supervisory/managerial experience and salary expectations, they can meet the veteran half way, and will have much greater success finding terrific veteran talent.

    For example, Amazon has a very robust military recruiting program going on right now, and you may be surprised to know that they are targeting the very group you mentioned as hiving little value in the civilian workplace (i.e., “those who can fire an M-16 or lead a squad of men on a recon mission”). And they are making a huge effort to connect with the veterans where the veterans are (on the military installations, in the Guard and Reserve units, on the campuses, on LinkedIn, etc.) rather than limiting themselves to searching a database of resumes.

    Also, JP Morgan Chase has their “Hire 100,000 veterans in 10 years” campaign. They are doing an amazing amount of “high touch” work to connect with veterans and get them into all types of roles in the organization. One of the first questions they ask when someone applies is “Do you currently serve or have you ever served in the miitary?” If the applicant selects “yes”, his/her record is immediately flagged, assigned to a recruiter and the recruiter has a commitment to call (yes! CALL!) the veteran within 5 days to have a conversation about their resume, desired roles, etc. They have been able to hire over 800 veterans in just the last 3 months with that focus.

    So, bottom line for all recruiters: keep doing what you are doing (waiting for the well-translated resume, avoiding the high touch effort, etc.) and you will keep getting the same results you are currently getting with regards to finding and recruiting military veterans. And when the OFCCP audit comes knocking on your door, don’t be surprised to find there is more consequences for inaction than previously encountered.

    Lisa Rosser
    Military Recruiting Consultant
    The Value Of a Veteran
    http://www.TheValueOfaVeteran.com

  9. Valentino Martinez

    Kudos to the OFCCP for pressing employers to get veterans on their employment radar screens.

    You want to effectively hire veterans into the private sector work environment? Easy–HIRE veteran recruiters who know a lot about military specialties, related technical and leadership training, that have direct and indirect transferable skills, that will fit into a variety of private sector job disciplines.

    As a veteran with thirty-seven years of recruitment experience in the private sector–I always make an effort to find and align viable ex-military candidates with related jobs in corporate America.

    It’s not as complicated as many might think. And hiring a veteran is re-validating and leveraging the training and investment America has already made in individuals who were willing to pay the ultimate price for their employer—their country.

    Hiring a veteran allows for reaping the benefits of that kind of loyalty along with their unique experiences; technical training; and proven leadership skills—everyone wins.

    SO HIRE A VET AND MAKE THEIR DAY AND YOURS AS WELL!

    If your still confounded by the typical inertia that blocks action in this regard CONTACT ME and we’ll get things in motion.

  10. Jennifer Woodside

    I want to know more about hiring veterans and veterans with disabilities. I wrote a post near 7/4 called “Welcome Home” on my website, http://www.disabilitytrainingalliance.com. It outlines the unemployment numbers for this demographic and they are abysmal. I also mention some best practices. We need to do right by our vets. They risked life and death to fight for our freedom. We can give them a job to provide a livelihood for themselves and their families when they return.

  11. Keith Halperin

    I’d like to hear from any companies that offer “bonus points” for applying veterans (all else being equal, a veteran is preferred, and/or their veteran staus may make up for a lack of some other area like education), the way some got agencies do.

    Thanks,

    Keith

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