On Monday February 11th, the Trump Administration released its proposed FY 2019 budget. In addition, OFCCP released its FY 2019 Congressional Budget Justification (CBJ) document. It is important to note that the proposed budget for OFCCP at $91 million is not necessarily the final budget for the Agency that will approved by Congress. My gut tells me that it will be a bit higher from what the President has proposed. Regardless of the actual budget, some interesting nuggets and insights can be gleaned from OFCCP’s CBJ FY 2019 document. First, the Agency is interested in building a robust compliance assistance program to assist contractors in complying with the regulatory requirements. In order to achieve that goal, OFCCP has proposed the following:
“Significantly expanding contractor compliance assistance, contractor training and education, and providing meaningful incentives that encourage voluntary compliance and contractor recognition programs that highlight best practices related to achieving compliance.”
This is a welcome and refreshing change!
In addition, OFCCP will continue to enforce the regulations and conduct meaningful compliance evaluations. I anticipate that the Agency will follow the lead of the Secretary Acosta where he rightly emphasized the rule of law and his intent for the Labor Department respect the law. I believe both Secretary Acosta and Solicitor of Labor O’Scannlain agree that OFCCP enforcement should not be a game of ‘gotcha’. This is also a welcome change.
Having said that, if you think enforcement is going away – you should think again. The Agency is going to do more with less and continue to focus on systemic discrimination with a continued emphasis on compensation discrimination.
Here are some specific statements within the CBJ that I found interesting and telling of future initiatives:
1. EVE awards or similar type awards are coming back
“The recognition recipients for best overall program would be granted a one-time exemption from compliance evaluations for up to a five-year period.
In addition, the recognition recipients would be committing to working with OFCCP to develop and/or participate in delivering contractor training and education, mentoring their peers on how to achieve their level of success, and providing input into the development of compliance assistance material for a specified period of time.”
2. Staffing and OFCCP Offices closing
“Closing of area and district offices. The other operational reforms will reduce the need for an extensive network of field, area and district offices. OFCCP will begin to align staff to where there is a concentration of contractors.
Establishment of the Skilled Regional Centers of Excellence. The Skilled Regional Centers initially would be located in the Pacific (San Francisco) and Northeast (New York) regions and would have highly skilled and specialized compliance officers capable of handling various large, complex and industry specialized compliance evaluations.”
“OFCCP’s top priority in it compliance evaluations is streamlining its desk audit procedures and increasing its focus on quality high-impact systemic compliance evaluations that address the labor market’s most egregious systemic discrimination problems, help the largest number of workers, have the potential to transform industry employment practices.
By focusing its focus on quality high-impact systemic compliance evaluations that help the largest number of workers, have the potential to transform industry employment practices, and address the labor market’s most egregious systemic compliance evaluations."
4. Continued focus on systemic pay discrimination
“In FY2019, OFCCP anticipates a continuation of its multi-year effort to identify and resolve systemic compensation discrimination.
OFCCP anticipates about 35 percent of its discrimination conciliation agreements to address systemic pay discrimination by prioritizing review of pay related employment practices. In FY 2019, OFCCP anticipates continuing its priorities of identifying and resolving systemic pay discrimination.”
Music to My Ears...
OFCCP can make better use of its resources, and minimize the cost and burden of compliance, by streamlining its desk audit procedures.
By David Cohen, President of DCI Consulting Group