The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in construction and extraction occupations will grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024 – increasing from 6.5 million to 7.2 million jobs – the biggest increase in any industry. As a result, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which is responsible for ensuring that contractors meet their affirmative action obligations and have nondiscriminatory hiring and employment practices, has expanded its Mega Construction Project Program.
If a construction project is selected as an MCP, the Agency will provide technical assistance, training, and community outreach in an effort to help the MCP fully comply with its affirmative action obligations.
According to the OFCCP’s FAQs about the expansion, the Agency is
- designating a national MCP Program coordinator;
- institutionalizing national office oversight;
- adding staff with expertise to the regional MCP Program teams to maximize recruitment, identify discrimination, and overcome barriers to opportunity in the construction trades;
- increasing the number of MCPs it is conducting; and
- expanding the resources available to support the program.
Participation in the MCP program is voluntary. To qualify, the project must be high-profile and have a significant impact on economic communities. More specifically, the project
- must receive federal funds or federal financial assistance;
- have a value of $25 million or more; and
- last for at least one year.
In selecting MCPs, the OFCCP works with the General Services Administration and other federal agencies to identify projects when they are funded and long before any construction begins. As of August 1, 2016, the OFCCP had 35 open MCPs, distributed across all six regions and 27 district offices.
Unfortunately, participation in the MCP Program will not shield a contractor from compliance reviews. Those contractors and subcontractors that “meet specified neutral criteria” may still be reviewed.
The OFCCP has also announced that it is no longer moving forward with long-promised changes to its construction regulations. Instead, the Agency will rely on the MCP Program to “focus on engagement and compliance in lieu of revised regulations.” Thus, for the foreseeable future, the goals for females and minorities in the construction field will remain based on the 1970 census. However, the OFCCP notes that it “will rely on current data about the proportion of qualified workers from each group in the relevant geographic area.” Thus, contractors may want to consider using more appropriate measures in determining their goals.