The OFCCP’s aggressive approach has the attention of Congress! On April 18, 2012, the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions held the first oversight hearing on the activities of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in more than 15 years. While the subcommittee hearing featured panelists both supportive and critical of OFCCP actions, significantly, OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu was not invited to participate.

Witnesses critical of OFCCP’s increased enforcement activity voiced concerns about the tremendous burdens imposed by current, and especially pending, regulations. One witness suggested that OFCCP had greatly underestimated the burden and cost to contractors stemming from proposed disability regulations, pointing to a recent survey which showed that it would cost contractors at least $2 billion in first year of implementation and an additional $1.5 billion annually in subsequent years, rather than the $80.1 million estimated by OFCCP.

Another witness who is a director of human resources information systems at a research hospital, spoke of the significant resources, time, manpower, and infrastructure that goes into her organization’s efforts to develop and implement its Affirmative Action Program under current regulations, and noted that such burdens make their focus “just trying to survive our next audit,” not getting the best workers. Proponents of OFCCP’s current and proposed regulations focused on the importance of OFCCP’s mission and role in combating employment discrimination.

There was a mixed reaction of the House subcommittee members, along party lines. However, the hearing ended without indication of further action by the Subcommittee. The Subcommittee’s webcast and the written testimony submitted to the Subcommittee is available here. Stay tuned for possible additional hearings in the near future.