SENATE CONDUCTS HEARING ON CONTRACTORS' HIRING OF VETERANS

McCaskill Condemns DOL Statistics

By Joanna Colosimo and Kayo Sady, Consultants at DCI Consulting Group
 
On Tuesday June 5, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), chaired a hearing for the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee on Contracting Oversight related to oversight for federal contractors and veteran’s employment.
McCaskill called for increased oversight by federal agencies to help champion veteran hiring and reporting by federal contractors.  The Department of Labor recently released unemployment figures, indicating that the unemployment rate for veterans has increased since September 2011.
Currently, federal contractors are required to annually file VETS-100 and/or VETS-100A reports to account for their veteran workforce numbers and hiring activity.   The two agencies in the Department of Labor that track and enforce information related to Veterans include the Veterans Employment and Training office (VETS), and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).  In Senator McCaskill’s opening statement, she highlighted that, “the government isn’t doing what it should” in helping break down barriers to veteran employment issues, and that the information collected from the VETS-100 and VETS-100A reports maintained by the Department of Labor is “spotty and frequently inaccurate”.  For instance, McCaskill’s office gained information from the DOL database and saw numbers in the reports that were obviously wrong, “like seeing a company whose number of veteran hires is 400% larger than the total number of people working for the company”, as well as missing information from best practice contractors.
The hearing held 5 witness testimonies, including three witnesses representing veteran advocacy groups or agencies, and 2 witnesses representing best practice federal contractors.
Ted Daywalt, President and Chief Executive Officer at VetJobs 
 
VetJobs ( www.vetjobs.com) assists all veterans in pursuing employment opportunities with government contractors.  In the experience of Mr. Daywalt, most government contractors are eager and proactively hiring veterans, due to the skills and abilities veterans bring to an organization, such as proven leadership skills and work ethic.  However, there are obstacles to hiring veterans that the government is not addressing.  Mr. Daywalt’s testimony re-iterated that the VETS-100 and VETS-100A reports may not capture members of the National Guard and Reserve, and that the report fails to be a relevant, timely, or actionable reporting tool.  Most importantly, Mr. Daywalt noted that “the real bottom line is the fact that the VETS-100 report does not cause more veterans to be hired by government contractors”.
Mr. Daywalt also called for a “serious review of OFCCP audit practices” and that “OFCCP audits are a paperwork nightmare” and recommended that the Senate committee direct the Government Accounting Office (GAO) to ascertain if the OFCCP’s audit procedures were actually effective in getting more jobs for veterans.
Spencer Kympton, Chief Operating Officer at The Mission Continues 
 
The Mission Continuesis a national nonprofit organization designed to assist veterans in pursuing successful transitions to civilian life.  Specifically, The Mission Continues creates these transitions by engaging veterans in 6-month community service fellowships such as mentoring opportunities at Boys and Girls Club, American Red Cross, and teaching English as a second language to immigrant children.  Veterans are provided with stipends as they serve.
Mr. Kympton highlighted some of the challenges that veterans encounter in transitioning to civilian life, such as the inability to translate military skills at job fairs.  Some veterans may end up homeless and jobless, and need the assistance of this program, which holds fellows accountable for personal and professional goals while enabling fellows to possess a sense of mission and purpose.
Senator McCaskill inquired if the program received federal funds, and Mr. Kympton indicated that at this time the program was funded only by private donors.
Ramsey Sulayman, Legislative Associate at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America 
 
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the support of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The organization’s mission is to “improve the lives of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families.” IAVA’s achieves its mission by assisting vets and their families, creating awareness of issues facing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and advocating on their behalf at both the local and federal levels.
Mr. Sulayman noted that one of the most effective means for combating unemployment rates in the veteran community may be to encourage entrepreneurship and incentivize veterans to start veteran-owned small businesses. The IAVA believes that the best way to meet goals related to veteran entrepreneurship is through the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which is mandatory for all service members and would be a convenient vehicle for familiarizing potential and existing veteran entrepreneurs with federal contracting processes and opportunities. Mr. Sulayman also noted that besides being largely inaccessible, the data gathered by the VETS-100 and VETS-100A forms do not provide adequate data for tracking the extent to which veteran-owned small businesses are faring in the federal contracting space.
Pamela Hardy, Senior Manager, Diversity and Inclusion Team, Booz Allen Hamilton 
 
Booz Allen Hamilton is a Virginia-based consulting company that teams with the federal government to help it achieve critical missions. Booz Allen Hamilton provides expertise in analytics, engineering, operations, strategy and organization, and technology to help government clients execute challenging government missions around the world. Booz Allen Hamilton strives to be an employer of choice for veterans and has been publicly recognized as an optimal place of work for veterans.
Pamela Hardy, Senior Manager in the Diversity and Inclusion team, spoke on behalf of Booz Allen Hamilton. Ms. Hardy noted that Booz Allen Hamilton has extremely successful strategies for hiring veterans that include leveraging knowledge of military clients to attract and support new hires, supporting veteran-owned businesses, working closely with TAP, and facilitating veteran-to-veteran mentoring.
With respect to assembling and filing VETS-100 and VETS-100A information, Ms. Hardy noted that requirements to collect and deliver such information to the Department of Labor is an appropriate regulatory balance to ensure contractors are focused on their veterans’ employment efforts. However, Ms. Hardy suggested that the reporting process and outcomes would be improved with a requirement that all VETS-100 and VETS-100A reports be made publicly available. Such a requirement would increase transparency and allow the pooling of data necessary for effective analytics that would give rise to creative solutions for increasing the positive employment outcomes for veterans. Additionally, Ms. Hardy noted that it would be beneficial to employers to thoroughly understand how the Department of Labor uses the information that is delivered in the VETS-100 and VETS-100A reports. Such an understanding would allow employers make adjustments to recruitment and hiring practices to better enable achievement of employment goals.
Sally Sullivan, Executive Vice President, ManTech International Corporation 
 
Mantech International Corporation is a global organization that provides support to the U.S. Military and Intelligence Community. Approximately 40% of Mantech’s 10,000 employees are veterans, and like Booz Allen Hamilton, Mantech is considered an employer of choice for veterans.
Sally Sullivan, Executive Vice President at Mantech, addressed many of Mantech’s successful programs related to hiring of veterans and provided her perspective on VETS-100 and VETS-100A reporting. Ms. Sullivan attributed Mantech’s success at hiring and retaining a large percentage of veterans to strategic partnerships with military employment organizations, working closely with TAP, high quality professional development programs, and specific employee support services for those working outside of the United States.
Regarding VETS-100 and VETS-100A reporting, Ms. Sullivan commented that data collection and reporting is automated by Mantech’s human resource information system (HRIS) and further noted that the existing reporting requirements suffice to “ensure maximum outreach to this important segment of our population.”
Post-Testimony Commentary 
 
Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE) noted that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” and encouraged that the proper metrics for veteran hiring should be captured and maintained.  Senator McCaskill noted that the DOL reporting requirements were a “waste of time” and “no one is paying any attention,” referring to the Department of Labor agencies that are tracking the veteran hiring information.  “They’ll hear from me about this issue.”  McCaskill encouraged the public availability of the VETS-100 and VETS-100A information for the future, and asked representatives at Booz Allen Hamilton and ManTech if the VETS-100 reports were even beneficial to the organization.
The hearing brought to light the lack of transparency in Department of Labor VETS-100/VETS-100A reporting, the flawed metrics and accountability, as well as the underlying issue that current practices, OFCCP audits, and regulations may not actually be helping Veterans translate their military skills and get jobs.  The hearing was timely with the proposed regulations related to Section 4212 of VEVRAA, which was designed by the OFCCP to attempt to strengthen types of outreach and recruitment to target veterans.
In the same vein as the Senate hearing, it is questionable as to if the requirements proposed in the revision to Section 4212 will actually help with increasing veteran hiring in the federal contractor community, or if the proposed regulations will be another “paperwork nightmare” that “nobody pays attention to”.  For more information, please view CCE’s public comments related to the proposed revisions for Section 4212.

 

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