As part of an effort to increase the hiring of individuals with a disability, part of the OFCCP's Notice of Proposed Rule Making requires federal contractors with affirmative action plans to list job openings and/or enter into linkage agreements with 4 separate recruitment resources. The Notice, unfortunately, offers absolutely no information regarding the type of success rate relating to referrals from those sources, as part of obtaining significant employment, or recommendations as to the format or content related with the contracts. The definition of “linkage agreements” communicates who is required to sign the contract; however the suggested regulations do not offer any sort of further guidance as to the expected content of the agreements. Contractors clearly believe that these are the types of relationships that are critical for the referral and selection of suitable candidates with a disability.
The inability of the OFCCP to provide contractors clear guidance regarding their affirmative action efforts suggests that OFCCP has not thought the matter through and should withdraw the proposed requirement all together.
The Agency's failure to endorse a national employment service further confirms their lack of seriousness regarding the Proposed Rule. When one reviews current sources listed by OFCCP as linkage programs, it is evident that such sources will not provide the quality referrals OFCCP suggests. In addition these organizations have not been vetted to ensure that they will accept and be able to handle the 10's of thousands of requests for contractors.
Again, OFCCP should clearly reassess or completely withdraw the mandated requirement affirmative action/federal contractors recruit from such lists or resources. No assurances that these organizations are prepared to handle this volume of requests.
One more issue with the OFCCP's Notice is that the disregard the years contractors have spent establishing relationships with organizations for individuals with a disability that are much better qualified to provide suitable candidates. We are concerned that they will have to forego these beneficial relationships yielding qualified individuals with a disability for other agencies dictated by the OFCCP. Thus, the NILG suggests that, to the extent the OFCCP requires contractors select sources from the lists provided by the Agency, the OFCCP implement a process whereby contractors can suggest entities to be added to the pool of eligible agencies.
Affirmative Action comment regarding OFCCP's proposed rule making regarding Section 503.
The proposed regulations also include a segment obligating federal contractors to “send written notification of company policy related to affirmative action efforts to its subcontractors, including subcontracting vendors and suppliers in order to request appropriate action on their parts and to publicize the contractor’s commitment to affirmative action on behalf of individuals with disabilities.” This requirement, that sets no time for sending the notices, creates a redundant and also difficult task for contractors. Contractors are already mandated to alert their subcontractors and suppliers of their affirmative action responsibilities. Because this is a redundant process contractors will waste already stretched resources to comply with this request.
The Notice furthermore requires affirmative action plan contractors to keep all records related to this issue for 5 years, this is a clear deviation from the current requirement that mandates records be kept for 2 years. There will obviously be confusion amongst the contractor community regarding the affirmative action plan record keeping requirements.