According to a new report on the collection of pay data, any increased efforts by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to gather detailed compensation information absent a more comprehensive plan for obtaining and measuring such data – as would be required under legislative and regulatory proposals – may increase employer burdens without providing the agency with beneficial statistics. The National Academy of Science’s (NAS) report – Collecting Compensation Data from Employers, Panel on Measuring and Collecting Pay Information from U.S. Employers by Gender, Race, and National Origin – concluded that agencies have yet to set forth a strategy for gathering and using the wage data to combat discrimination. The report provides a number of suggested steps that the EEOC and related agencies should take before imposing additional compensation reporting requirements on employers.

The report notes that the Paycheck Fairness Act – which recently stalled in the Senate – would have enabled the EEOC to collect pay data from employers based on race, gender, and national origin. In addition, the OFCCP is currently considering regulations that would create a new compensation data collection tool. The OFCCP claims that this tool would be used primarily as a screen mechanism to allow the agency to identify contractors in need of further investigation.

The panel responsible for the new report concluded, however, that “there is, at present, no clearly articulated vision of how the data on wages could be used in the conduct of the enforcement responsibilities of the relevant agencies.” Moreover, the report notes that the agencies have yet to explain the form of data collection that would be used. Unless such a clearly-defined vision is set forth, the report finds, the administrative and financial burden on employers and potential benefits of the data collection cannot be assessed.

In addition to recommending that the EEOC, OFCCP and Department of Justice prepare a comprehensive plan for use of earnings data before initiating any data collection, the NAS recommends that:

  • After the agencies complete the comprehensive plan for use of earnings data, they should initiate a pilot study to test the collection instrument and the plan for the use of the data;
  • The EEOC should enhance its capacity to summarize, analyze, and protect earnings data;
  • The EEOC should collect data on rates of pay, not actual earnings or pay bands, in a manner that permits the calculation of measures of both central tendency and dispersion; and
  • The EEOC should develop a more sophisticated means of processing the data to allay any privacy concerns and should seek legislation that would increase the ability of the agency to protect confidential data.

A summary of the report can be read here. (pdf)