Yesterday, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs ("OFCCP"), which is responsible for the enforcement of federal contractors' affirmative action obligations, announced the establishment of a five-year moratorium on enforcement of obligations related to affirmative action programs and recordkeeping under EO 11246, Section 503, and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act ("VEVRAA"). This moratorium is limited to health care entities that participate in TRICARE as subcontractors under a prime contract between the Department of Defense TRICARE Management Activity and one of the prime managed-care contractors. TRICARE is the health care program serving uniformed service members, retirees, and their families worldwide.

A complete list of covered subcontractors can be found in Directive 2014-01 here

It does not apply to health care entities that participate in TRICARE as subcontractors if they also hold prime contracts with an agency of the federal government. Similarly, it does not apply to TRICARE subcontractors that hold a separate, independent non-health care-related federal subcontract. Importantly, the moratorium does not extend to any obligations a TRICARE subcontractor may have under other federal nondiscrimination laws, including Title VII and the ADA.

TRICARE subcontractors with open compliance evaluations will see those evaluations closed in the next 30 days, and those that have received a scheduling letter are encouraged to send a written request to their local OFCCP office requesting that the compliance evaluation be administratively closed, and containing a copy of its agreement to participate in the TRICARE program.

The OFCCP's reasoning behind the moratorium was that there "has been a difference in understanding between the Department of Labor and some entities affiliated with the TRICARE community, as to who is a covered subcontractor under the laws enforced by OFCCP." In the directive, the OFCCP states that it will provide extensive technical assistance on compliance with affirmative action obligations and encourages TRICARE subcontractors to sign up to receive OFCCP notifications.

Only time will tell if the OFCCP grants similar leniency to other covered entities as compliance with, and OFCCP enforcement of, the regulations that took effect on March 24th begin to play out.