In keeping with its mantra of "good jobs for everyone," the Office of Fed-eral Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise current nondiscrimination and affirmative action obligations of federal contractors under the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA). OFCCP is part of the Department of Labor and is charged with enforcing the affirmative action obligations of federal contractors and subcontractors.
Highlights of the proposed rule and attached appendices include:
- Clarifying the definition of "protected veterans," to include "special disabled veterans," "veterans of the Vietnam era," "veterans who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized," and "recently separated veterans";
- Eliminating the classification of "other protected veterans";
- Strengthening affirmative action regulations, including requiring annual meetings with employees and management to discuss written affirmative action programs (AAPs), contractor responsibilities, and employee opportunities for advancement;
- Detailing enhanced contractor responsibilities for providing information on job openings to appropriate employment service delivery systems in the manner that the employment service requires, and including identification of federal contractor status and contact information;
- Requiring contractors to engage in outreach and recruitment efforts, including entering into "linkage agreements" and consulting the Employer Resources section of the National Resources Directory, as well as mandating certain steps to be taken when reviewing and documenting outreach efforts on an annual basis;
- Increasing contractors' data collection obligations with regard to referrals from state employment services, including priority veteran referrals and protected veteran applicants and hires;
- Requiring all applicants to be invited to self-identify as a veteran prior to an offer of employment;
- Requiring all such records to be maintained for five years;
- Allowing OFCCP to identify and review contractors' electronic data and requiring contractors to notify OFCCP of all formats (including electronic) in which records are available; and
- Requiring contractors to esta-blish annual "hiring benchmarks," expressed as the percentage of total protected veterans that the contractor seeks to hire in the following year.
In addition, rescission of regulations applicable only to unmodified government contracts entered into before December 1, 2003 has been proposed.
The proposed rule was published on April 26, 2011. Comments are due by June 27, 2011, and can be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov/ or by mail.