E-Verify postponed for contractors

Enforcement of a new rule that requires federal contractors to use the Homeland Security Department’s E-Verify system to check employees' work eligibility has been postponed until Feb. 20, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced.

DHS is delaying implementation from the original Jan. 15 starting date to Feb. 20 as a result of negotiations associated with a lawsuit filed by the chamber and other business groups, the chamber said in a Jan. 9 news release.

Under President George W. Bush’s executive order, use of E-Verify was to be made mandatory for approximately 168,000 federal contractors beginning Jan. 15. The E-Verify regulation pertains to federal contracts of more than $100,000 and subcontracts of more than $3,000. A coalition of business groups led by the chamber is suing to keep E-Verify from being imposed on contractors.

The E-Verify program, which is jointly run by DHS and the Social Security Administration, allows employers to electronically submit Social Security numbers for new hires and existing employees. If there is a match, the employee is deemed eligible to work. If not, there are procedures for further assessments.

The lawsuit challenging the rule is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Co-plaintiffs are the Society for Human Resource Management, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the HR Policy Association, and the American Council on International Personnel.

The chamber contends that the rule exceeds Congress’ intent in setting up the E-Verify program. "The administration cannot use an executive order to circumvent Congress' intent that E-Verify be used only on a voluntary basis," Randy Johnson, the chamber's vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits, said in the release. "Although we hope to resolve the litigation in an expeditious manner, the postponement of the rule will help ensure that the court is not unduly rushed to weigh the serious legal questions in this case."

The chamber also said it hopes that the Obama administration will review the E-Verify requirement and possibly revise it.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Tue, Jan 20, 2009 Liz Las Vegas

With regard to E-Verify, here’s the link to a legal opinion paper from an attorney at Michael Best & Friedrich regarding how E-Verify applies for your responsibility regarding independent contractors and sub-contractors.


Interesting stuff — government contractors who fail to comply with E-Verify may be debarred from doing business with the government, but compliance isn’t exactly simple. If you have misclassified employees as contractors (and therefore not performed E-Verify on them) then you may be out of compliance. But to perform E-Verify on contractors is inappropriate, probably illegal, and can tilt the classification decision (in the event of a misclassification audit) in the direction of making these people look like employees, as you have treated them as employees for purposes of verifying employment eligibility.

In conclusion, according to the paper (available full text at that link) your E-Verify compliance is ONLY as good as your independent contractor classification compliance.

Thu, Jan 15, 2009

how about this - if you vet an employee through e-verify and they prove to be not OK, you are immune from prosecution for hiring an illegal - so use is voluntary but there is a benefit to using it.

Wed, Jan 14, 2009 JackO Northern VA

I'm a contractor myself and i have mixed opinions on e-verify. On the one hand, I can easily see where incomplete or erroneous information in the system could prevent an otherwise qualified person from getting a job. But, I have also worked with many other contractors on government projects that were not qualified for one reason or the other and I had to do extra to make up for them. The most common thing I have come across is that other contrators and companies tend to hire technically qualified people who are not qualified to work on governemnt projects because they are not citizens or have not been through the proper vetting processes. Many government contracts require that contractors be US citizens (not legal resident aliens) to perform in certain positions due to security issues. The government needs a way to avoid getting stiffed by comanies that employ these people. So yes it could be bad but it could also be good.

Tue, Jan 13, 2009

It's time for Government to stop defending the use of cheap labor (more often than not to help protect higher senior management income as well as the flow of campaign contributions)and put our citizens back to work. I'm sorry, but I don't think our country's founding documents (i.e., Bill of Rights, etc.) said anything about Lobbyists running our country. It's time for our legislators to take a pay cut (give up campaign contribution income that represents personal income) and start being leaders.

Tue, Jan 13, 2009 CG Baltimore

Are you kidding me? We got to close this back door too! What's wrong with the government when they can't even govern the common sense rules that we need. Anybody or company opposed to this plan is suspect! Check em!

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