OFCCP’s TAG, Part 12: Section 503 and VEVRAA Written AAP Components

By: Victoria Ungvary

In this blog, we will continue our discussion from part 11 on Section 503 and VEVRAA with a specific focus on the written AAP Components. 

EEO Policy 

Contractors are required to develop an EEO policy statement and make it available to applicants and employees. As the TAG states, it must at minimum contain the following components: 

  • State that all employment activity will be done without regard to disability or protected veteran status, including recruiting, hiring, promotions, training, terminations, layoffs, and pay, and all employment decisions will be based on valid job requirements; 
  • Indicate the top U.S. executive’s support for the AAP; 
  • Provide for an audit and reporting system; 
  • Indicate who is responsible for implementing the affirmative action activities; and 
  • State that applicants and employees that exercise their rights protected by Section 503, VEVRAA, and their implementing regulations will not be subject to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination because they have engaged in those protected activities (e.g. filing a complaint, assisting or participating in an investigation, compliance evaluation, hearing, etc.). 

The policy should be reviewed and updated annually as part of the written AAP. It must also be posted on bulletin boards in an accessible and understandable way to applicants and employees with disabilities. For example, making a large print or braille version of the notice available, or posting at a height where a wheelchair user would be able to easily see it.  

Once the policy is established, contractors are required to disseminate it both internally with employees and externally with other organizations, including those that may assist with outreach and recruitment. 

Internal and External Dissemination 

Internal dissemination is intended to ensure internal support for the program and policy from all levels of managers and employees and demonstrate a commitment to an inclusive culture while external dissemination is intended to increase outreach and positive recruitment.  

At a minimum, internally, contractors are required to include the policy statement in their manual or otherwise make it available to employees, and if party to a collective bargaining agreement, notify union officials and/or employee representatives of the policy and request their cooperation. The TAG includes a table with the minimum and recommended internal and external dissemination on page 53: 

Review of Personnel Processes 

Contractors are required to review their personnel processes to ensure job qualifications of applicants and employees with known disabilities or who are known protected veterans are given careful, thorough, and systematic consideration for job vacancies filled either by hiring or promotion, and for all training opportunities.  

When reviewing personnel processes, contractors should ensure they are only relying on the portions of a protected veterans’ military record that are relevant to the qualifications for the opportunity. Contractors must also periodically review their reasonable accommodation practices and procedures to ensure the procedures are disseminated to all applicants and employees, that requests for accommodation are handled promptly, and any necessary reasonable accommodations are provided unless they would cause an undue hardship on the company.  

Contractors must also periodically review their online or electronic applications to ensure they are accessible, and that applicants and employees can easily request accommodations to apply.  Additionally, the accommodation should be provided unless doing so would cause undue hardship for the company. Finally, contractors must include a written description of the review in the AAP, including the necessary creation of any new processes or modifications to existing processes. 

The TAG notes that the VEVRAA regulations include a set of procedures contractors can adapt in Appendix C of the VEVRAA regulations.  

Review of Mental and Physical Job Qualifications 

Contractors must include in their written AAP a schedule for the periodic review of all physical and mental job qualification standards and the results. The review should ensure that any qualifications that screen out or tend to screen out qualified Individuals with disabilities or disabled veterans are job-related and consistent with business necessity. The TAG includes an example of lifting requirements that have changed due to supplier and industry changes over the years.  

Reasonable Accommodation 

As stated in the TAG, “contractors must comply with reasonable accommodation requirements, both as a matter of nondiscrimination and as a matter of affirmative action.” This section reminds contractors that the Section 503 regulations include resources to assist contractors with complying with the reasonable accommodation requirements in Appendix A 

As a matter of nondiscrimination, it is unlawful for a contractor not to make a reasonable accommodation for a qualified applicant or employee with a disability or a known disabled veteran, unless the contractor can show that doing so would impose an undue hardship. It is also unlawful to deny employment opportunities to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities and disabled veterans based on the need to provide reasonable accommodations.  

As a matter of affirmative action, contractors must be proactive in asking whether employees with known disabilities need reasonable accommodation. The TAG includes the steps an employer would follow if an employee with a known disability is struggling to perform the job, and it can reasonably conclude that it is related to the disability.  

The TAG also includes examples of reasonable accommodations, such as making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible and usable by Individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans, providing an alternative means of applying, and/or providing qualified readers or interpreters.  

Developing written procedures is not required; however, the TAG reminds contractors that doing so can help provide clarity to both individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans and managers and supervisor on the accommodation process.  This includes how to make requests, what to do when requests are received, and facilitate faster processing of requests.  

Develop and Implement Procedures to Prevent Harassment 

Contractors are required to develop and implement procedures to ensure that its employees are not harassed based on their disability or status as a protected veteran. The TAG includes a list of example procedures that contractors can follow. 

Undertake Outreach and Positive Recruitment 

Contractors must undertake outreach and positive recruitment efforts that are reasonably designed to be effective in recruiting qualified Individuals with disabilities and protected veterans.  

The TAG includes the following table as examples of outreach sources on page 57: 

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Contractors are required to annually assess their external outreach and recruitment efforts, evaluate whether they were effective in identifying and recruiting qualified Individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, and document this assessment as part of the written AAPs. At minimum, contractors are required to document the criteria for evaluation of each outreach effort and the conclusion as to whether each effort was successful. If the contractor believes that the totality of its outreach and recruitment efforts were not effective, alternative efforts must be identified and implemented. When reviewing, OFCCP will assess whether the contractor was reasonable in its conclusions.  

Documentation of the outreach and recruitment efforts and analyses are subject to a three-year retention requirement. 

Design and Implement an Audit and Reporting System 

Contractors must measure the effectiveness of its total written AAP by developing and implementing an internal audit and reporting system. This should determine the extent to which the contractor’s objectives have been achieved, and what the contractor will do if they haven’t been achieved. It should also address any analyses done by the contractor to ensure individuals with disabilities and protected veterans haven’t been discriminated against in employment practices. The TAG includes a list of employment practices to review, including recruitment, advertising, and job application procedures, opportunities for participation in educational and training activities, and apprenticeships.  

Designation of Responsibility 

An official must be designated to direct or manage the AAP. Their identity must be included in the written AAP (including a description of their duties) and in the EEO policy. The TAG states, the “official is to be given top management support and sufficient staff to manage implementation of the program.” 


Any personnel involved in recruitment, screening, selection, promotion, disciplinary, and related processes must be trained on the contractor’s EEO obligations and affirmative action commitments under Section 503 and VEVRAA. 

Data Collection Analysis 

There are several figures that must be documented each year including: 

  • Total number of applicants for all jobs (required under both Section 503 and VEVRAA). 
  • Total number of applicants hired (required under both Section 503 and VEVRAA). 
  • Number of applicants that self-identified as individuals with disabilities or are otherwise known to be individuals with disabilities. 
  • Number of applicants with disabilities hired.  
  • Number of applicants who self-identified as protected veterans or are otherwise known as protected veterans. 
  • Number of protected veteran applicants hired. 
  • Total number of job openings and total number of jobs filled (required under both Section 503 and VEVRAA). 

The applicant, hire, and employment opening data listed above must be retained for 3 years. The TAG states contractors should use this information when assessing the availability of individuals with disabilities and protected veterans in the workforce and when evaluating the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts. It can be helpful in tracking whether the number of applicants self-identifying from year to year is increasing or decreasing as targeted outreach and recruitment efforts are changed.   

In the next installment of DCI’s series on the Supply and Service TAG, we’ll cover preparing for a compliance evaluation. 

Victoria Ungvary

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