Step right up! The OFCCP is offering the deal of a lifetime.
In yet another new Directive from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the agency has rolled out its Voluntary Enterprise-wide Review Program. This program, which will become available to contractors in Fiscal Year 2020 (which begins October 2019), allows a contractor to voluntarily submit to a compliance evaluation of its corporate headquarters and a subset of other establishments in its organization.
The OFCCP will conduct the compliance evaluations during the contractor’s VERP application process. “Top-performing” contractors “with corporate-wide model diversity and inclusion programs” will be removed from the normal compliance review scheduling process for five years. At the conclusion of the five-year period, those top performing contractors will be "re-evaluated" for continuing inclusion in the VERP. Second-tier contractors, or “compliant contractors,” will receive a three-year reprieve from compliance evaluations as well as “individualized compliance assistance to become a top performer.” To remain in the VERP, contractors must maintain compliance and “provide periodic reports and information” to the OFCCP.
Contractors who apply, but do not qualify, for the VERP will continue to be subject to compliance evaluations through the normal scheduling process.
The Directive does not specifically address how findings of violations during the VERP application process will be handled, but it does note that compliance officers are responsible for “consult[ing] with regional SOL [solicitor's] offices to ensure that individual reviews and agreements comply with applicable laws and regulations.” Presumably, this means that contractors applying for the VERP would be subject to a Notice of Violation with resulting penalties, just like any contractor undergoing a regular compliance evaluation.
Considering the time and expense involved with a single OFCCP compliance evaluation, not to mention several, and given that only one to three percent of contractors are audited by the OFCCP in any year, most contractors are likely to find that the benefits of applying for the VERP are outweighed by the risks and expenses.Time will tell! Are you feeling lucky?
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