July 11 was no ordinary day to the members of the Recruitment Regulatory Compliance Committee (RRCC) of DirectEmployers Association. It was the deadline for submitting comment letters to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to respond to their Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to Section 4212 modifying federal government contractors’ affirmative action obligations and compliance requirements of federally-protected veterans. The proposed rule was released by the OFCCP on April 26.
In response to the NPRM, the RRCC developed a 20-question survey that was conducted from June 7-13 of the Members of DirectEmployers Association about the impact of the proposed regulations on employers. A total of 76 employers (all members of DirectEmployers Association), or approximately 14% of the total members, responded to the general survey and 97.4% of the respondents indicated they are federal contractors. Half of the respondents to the survey indicated they serve in an affirmative action/equal employment, employee relations or HR compliance role, while nearly 40% of the respondents serve in a recruiting / sourcing / management / leadership role. The general survey was supplemented by a detailed essay survey to the members of the RRCC. A total of 13 employers, all federal government contractors, provided further insight and perspectives regarding the proposed regulations for Section 4212.
The survey data provided valuable employer input and was included in the comment letter submitted to the OFCCP by DirectEmployers Association on behalf of its Members. The National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) also responded to the OFCCP with a comment letter. DirectEmployers Association and NASWA formed an alliance in March 2007 to provide an employer-funded, jointly-administered National Labor Exchange (NLX) as a replacement for the discontinued America’s Job Bank. In preparing the comment letters, as key partners, both Associations worked closely together to collaborate and defend the interests and partnerships of its jointly-operated National Labor Exchange (NLX) as the OFCCP continues to work through the process of reviewing all 110 comments they received and moving the proposed regulations to the final stage. Patricia Shiu, OFCCP Director, stated in a live OFCCP web chat session on July 12, “This process may take several weeks to complete, and will include consideration of suggestions for revision to the NPRM. In the Final Rule we will describe the comments, the issues they raised, and our responses to them. We anticipate publishing a Final Rule in the spring of 2012.”
If enacted, these regulations would pose significant recordkeeping, administrative and cost burdens on both employers and state workforce agencies during a recessed economy, a time of budget crises and decreased funding. After a collaborative and extensive review of the NPRM by our Members and many discussions with NASWA, it is obvious there was little, if any, formal input gathered from leadership and/or management from both NASWA and individual State workforce agencies, Industry Liaison Groups, and the members of DirectEmployers Association. The tenor of the proposed regulations appear to focus more on employer record-keeping requirements that demonstrate personalized, outdated approaches to recruiting and selection by these key constituents, rather than contractors expanding their veteran outreach programs which would lead to further employment opportunities for veterans.
A variety of avenues through which employers and contractors currently find protected veterans may offer additional means for complying with Section 4212. The OFCCP should consider including these resources, such as the NLX, a legitimate partner of the public workforce system, in its final regulations. Today, 49 state workforce agencies, plus the District of Columbia, have signed participation agreements with the NLX. The Operations Committee of the NLX oversees the day-to-day affairs of the NLX and consists of six state workforce agency representatives (members of NASWA) and six employer representatives (members of DirectEmployers). The collaboration between state workforce agencies and employers through this committee has been extremely positive and has produced stronger and more direct working relationships between state agency administrators, DVOPs and LVERs, and employers. In addition, both Associations regularly attend and participate in each other’s board meetings, conferences and annual member meetings to help further strengthen partnerships, including veteran-related initiatives, between state workforce agencies and employers.
The NLX has made a very positive impact in a short amount of time toward the goal to hire and advance more veterans, and it is of utmost concern that the proposed regulations will have a detrimental and negative impact on the progress the NLX has made in strengthening partnerships between state workforce agencies, their field staff and veteran representatives, and employers. We encourage the OFCCP to engage with management-level representatives from both the employer community and the State Workforce Agencies to more completely understand the barriers currently facing employers and veterans today, and to learn about the current best practices of those employers that are successful in hiring veterans. We also recommend the OFCCP more thoroughly research the veteran hiring successes that are taking place today, and encourage their adoption by all federal contractors. This would improve the efficiency of the veteran labor market, and help improve our economy.
I am continuing to review the 110 comment letters and will follow-up with an additional blog to include more details about the respondents and some of their key points regarding the proposed regulations. Meanwhile, if you are a Member of DirectEmployers, be sure to attend our upcoming webinar to update Members about the NPRM:
RRCC Update: DirectEmployers Association Responds to OFCCP’s Proposed Regulations for Veterans
Date: Monday, July 25, 2011
Time: 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Eastern (2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Central)
Hosted by: Jason Capili, PwC USA, Chair of RRCC; Jolene Jefferies, DirectEmployers Association, VP Strategic Initiatives and Co-Chair of RRCC; Pam Gerassimides, NASWA, Assistant Executive Director
Join this webinar to stay abreast of the recent activities around the NPRM:
- Learn the results of the RRCC survey to Members and understand the impact of the NPRM on employers
- Review the key points made in the comment letters submitted to the OFCCP by DirectEmployers Association, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), and other key organizations
- Discuss the next steps with the NPRM and the expected date for the Final Rule to be published by the OFCCP
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