Director Patricia Shiu gave the keynote address at the excellent 2012 Southwest and Rocky Mountain Region (“SWARM”) Industry Liaison Group (“ILG”) Conference held in San Antonio, Texas from April 10 through April 13. Here are some highlights of her address and her responses to questions that she answered from the floor:
- In a familiar refrain of this increasingly aggressive OFCCP, Director Shiu emphasized that good faith efforts are not enough, urging federal contractors to be proactive and “head off problems at the pass,” rather than waiting until the OFCCP “comes knocking at your door” for a compliance review.
- Director Shiu was tightlipped about when proposed new regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and VEVRAA/Section 4212 would be released in final form, though she indicated it would be before the end of the year. Our sources tell us that the VEVRAA/Section 4212 regulations are likely to be out first and likely prior to the election in November 2012. Director Shiu indicated there would be some amount of time built-in for contractors to come comply with the new regulations, particularly with regard to data collection requirements, though she would not provide any specifics.
- Director Shiu rejected the suggestion that OFCCP consider extending the time for response to the new Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing, when it is released in its final form. Director Shiu noted that that the continued issuance of Corporate Scheduling Announcement Letters (CSAL) was intended to provide advance notice of possible audit and that contractors should be prepared regardless of whether they receive a Scheduling Letter.
- Director Shiu also reiterated OFCCP’s position that current and proposed goals, particularly the proposed 7% goal for individuals with disabilities in the proposed changes to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, are not quotas but rather “aspirational goals.” Interestingly, when Seyfarth Shaw’s own Valerie Hoffman asked if federal contractors who meet these “aspirational goals” would be relieved of some or all of the significant administrative and procedural burdens required by the proposed regulations, Director Shiu’s only comment was that it was a “good question.”