Let’s first look at some numbers. The OFCCP’s total budget request for FY 2016 is $113,687,000, and authorization for 660 Full-Time Employees (FTEs). In all likelihood, Congress will award less money than requested. While the OFCCP has become more aggressive since 2009, the last two fiscal years have not seen a budget increase, but rather a slight decrease, to wit: $104,476,000 in FY 2015, down from $104,976,000 in FY 2014. The projection of 660 FTEs for FY 2016 would be a 10-person increase over 2015, but still leave the OFCCP with 23 fewer FTEs than it had in FY 2014. Notwithstanding all that, the fact that the OFCCP is requesting a budget increase of $7,211,000 over FY 2015, sends a clear message that it A) has no intention of scaling back on its ambitious agenda; and B) is putting forth even more efforts to make its mark as it enters its final sprint. That should not come as a surprise to anyone in the federal contractor community.
The OFCCP has identified the following as its priorities for FY 2016:
- Identify and address systemic pay discrimination and, in particular, to narrow race and sex-based pay gaps;
- Eliminate gender, ethnic and racial discrimination in the construction industry;
- Critical upgrades of a case management system it describes as “obsolete”;
- Ensuring that employees and contractors have all information necessary for implementing the President’s Executive Order extending non-discrimination protections to LGBT applicants and employees;
- Continued enforcement of Section 503 and VEVRAA regulations.
The fact that the OFCCP has re-affirmed its—and the President’s—commitment to: A) addressing pay discrepancies between women and men, and between minorities and non-minorities; B) eliminating gender and racial discrimination in the construction industry; and C) enforcing Section 503 and VEVRAA regulations states unequivocally that it sees these issues as A) still not fully addressed; B) still important; and C) a long-term concern. What else can we glean from this latest budget request? We can assume that the OFCCP is going to push hard to accomplish as many of its—and the President’s—goals while both are still around to do so.
That said, what are the takeaways for federal contractors?
- If you started paying more attention to your recruitment, hiring, training, promotion and other employment practices regarding women, minorities, veterans and individuals with disabilities since 2009, don’t stop, and don’t slow down! If you have been vigilant, stay vigilant. If you have not focused on your practices regarding members of these protected classes, get started now!
- Don’t assume that once President Obama finishes his term that you no longer have to worry about Affirmative Action compliance. A different administration, even a Republican one, does not relieve you from your obligations.
- Start looking at how your employment practices might be affecting LGBT applicants and employees and ensure best practices for inclusivity.
- Monitor your company’s compliance with Affirmative Action regulations and update your policies, procedures and Affirmative Action Plan(s) and Program(s) accordingly.
- Review the newest OFCCP Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing to make sure that you have, and in the event of a Compliance Evaluation can, produce all the records named therein.