If the recently passed federal FY2016 budget is any indication, Congress is not pleased with the current direction of OFCCP. The first indication of this displeasure is the actual budget appropriation for OFCCP. OFCCP asked for a $7.2 million increase, both the House ($6 million) and Senate ($10 million) initially recommended substantial cuts to OFCCP’s current budget, and the final result was a $1 million dollar cut.
Although a budget cut of any size sends a message to a federal agency, it is the words used by the appropriations committee members that sent an even stronger message. Although acknowledging the importance of OFCCP’s work, the House appropriations committee stated:
The Committee is concerned that OFCCP has lost its focus on identifying and addressing real discrimination in employment and has become hyper-focused on fulfilling quotas instead of equal opportunity by relying on statistics alone in evaluating contractors. The Committee believes OFCCP should take steps to use common sense in the use of government resources to focus on finding actual discriminatory treatment instead of presumed discrimination based solely on what OFCCP assumes through statistics.
Further, the Committee believes that OFCCP should end its reliance on threatening sanctions, including debarment and the costs associated with an extremely drawn-out administrative litigation process, to induce contractors to waive their legal rights and to enter into conciliation agreements that are not justified by the evidence.
The Senate added:
The Committee is concerned that OFCCP has lost its focus on identifying and addressing real employment discrimination and is imposing excessive compliance burdens on contractors.
The Committee is also concerned about reports that OFCCP is increasingly subjecting contractors to overly broad and unnecessary document and data requests as well as unreasonably numerous and lengthy compliance reviews.
The OFCCP is directed to cease utilization of this de facto quota system for evaluating hiring practices and to report within 120 days of enactment to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and Senate on steps it is taking to enforce non-discrimination standards on a more fair, case-by-case basis focused on evidence of actual discrimination rather than on statistical generalizations and quota benchmarks.
It will be interesting to see if OFCCP is responsive to the concerns of Congress.
By Mike Aamodt, Principal Consultant at DCI Consulting Group