In a new directive released on August 10, 2018, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced plans to start conducting focused reviews in the new fiscal year, which begins October 1st.
Directive 2018-04 instructs OFCCP staff to dedicate a portion of future scheduling lists on focused reviews of contractor compliance with Executive Order 11246, Section 503 and VEVRAA. These targeted reviews will include mandatory site visits, reviews of policies and practices, interviews with staff responsible for EEO compliance as well as employees impacted by these policies. The directive calls for OFCCP staff to "develop a standard protocol for conducting the focused reviews," and to "go onsite and conduct a comprehensive review of the particular authority at issue."
While the directive did not provide detailed insight into what these focused reviews might mean for contractors, the narrative includes examples of items that may be requested during a review. Examples of Section 503 focused reviews could include examining a contractor’s reasonable accommodation procedures to confirm employees with disabilities have not experienced discrimination, and interviews with ADA coordinators. The directive suggests similar approaches would be taken for evaluating compliance with Executive Order 11246 and VEVRAA. Contractors can also expect requests from the OFCCP for hiring and compensation data.
While focused reviews are not new, and are just one of several types of audits the OFCCP is authorized to conduct, the directive suggests the OFCCP is continuing to focus on contractor compliance with Section 503 and VEVRAA, and intimates that the OFCCP will take a more aggressive stance in evaluating contractor compliance with these two regulations.
Additionally, the directive instructs OFCCP staff to develop training, FAQs, and other compliance materials to assist contractors in meeting their obligations. These statements reaffirm comments made earlier by top OFCCP officials to provide contractors with clear guidance and transparency around OFCCP activities and enforcement actions.
What does this change mean for contractors? Contractors should review Section 503 and VEVRAA requirements, ensuring their policies, programs, and practices comply with the mandatory requirements. Consider the following actions:
- Educate managers about ADA and their role in the accommodation process.
- Review reasonable accommodation requests. Document and retain these requests.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of outreach efforts around Section 503 and VEVRAA, and address additional corrective action measures taken when outreach is unsuccessful.
- Continue outreach to organizations dedicated to the employment of individuals with disabilities (Goodwill, DVR, and other state vocational rehabilitation agencies).
- Conduct outreach to organizations dedicated to the employment of protected veterans (VA, Transitional Assistance Program (TAP), State workforce agencies and universities).
- Review ADA and EEO policies, ensuring policies include a statement prohibiting discrimination due to physical or mental disability.
- Commemorate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (Month of October) with activities aimed at educating management and staff around disability employment issues. Use this time to remind employees about their right to self-identify their disability status.
- Evaluate facilities and technology, ensuring they meet general accessibility standards.
- List openings with the Employment Service Delivery System (ESDS).
- Conduct a review of all physical and mental job qualifications to ensure that requirements are job related and do not screen out qualified individuals with disabilities.
While the directive is not legally binding and does not change existing laws or regulations governing OFCCP programs, it does provide insight into how the OFCCP plans to steer reviews moving forward.