Update: On the afternoon of July 31, 2013, the OFCCP submitted its 503 rule for final OMB review. Therefore, OFCCP rules regarding affirmative action requirements for both veterans and individuals with disabilities are expected shortly.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program’s (OFCCP) final rule amending a contractor’s and subcontractor’s affirmative action and nondiscrimination obligations towards protected veterans is a step away from implementation. The final rule was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Tuesday. This is the last action in the rule-making process before the agency can formally publish the final rule in the Federal Register. The OMB review process typically takes 30-90 days. Under the new leadership of recently confirmed Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, the Department of Labor is moving swiftly to complete its aggressive regulatory agenda.

Issued in April 2011, the proposed rule would amend the agency’s regulations regarding contractor affirmative action and nondiscrimination obligations towards protected veterans under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA). This law prohibits employment discrimination against specified categories of veterans by federal government contractors and subcontractors, and mandates that each covered contractor and subcontractor take affirmative action to hire and promote veterans. The intended regulatory changes would strengthen these affirmative action provisions, describe specific actions a contractor must take to satisfy its obligations, increase the contractor’s data collection obligations, and require the contractor to establish hiring benchmarks to assist in measuring the effectiveness of its affirmative action efforts.

It is expected that another OFCCP final rule that would amend the nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements regarding individuals with disabilities for federal contractors and subcontractors (known as the section 503 regulations) will soon follow. That controversial proposal would, among other things, establish a 7% utilization goal for the employment of individuals with disabilities.

It has been less than two weeks since the Senate confirmed the nomination of Perez to be the new Labor Secretary. As predicted, now that the DOL has new leadership in place, it will move quickly to implement the many items on its regulatory agenda. DOL’s rulemaking activity will dramatically impact the workplace, and government contractors and other employers need to be aware of the significant changes that lie ahead.

A list of other DOL regulations currently under OMB review can be found here.