E-Verify rule governing contractor employees postponed

The government has agreed to postpone implementing the E-Verify regulation for federal contractors until May 21 at the earliest, a business group announced today. The regulation would require contractors to check the E-Verify system to determine if workers are legally eligible to work in the United States.

Federal officials agreed to a request by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to postpone enforcement of the regulation so the rule can be reviewed by the Obama administration, the chamber said in a news release today.

It is the second time the federal government has pushed back the deadline. The chamber and other business groups earlier this month challenged the legitimacy of the E-Verify regulation in a lawsuit. They were successful in delaying the starting date for enforcement to Feb. 20, from the initial date of Jan. 15.

Under the new agreement, federal contractors don't need to comply with E-Verify until May 21.

“The federal government agreed that the new administration needs time to re-think mandatory E-Verify use, particularly in light of the stressed economy,” Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the chamber's public-policy law firm, said. “We are hopeful that the incoming administration will agree that E-Verify is the wrong solution at the wrong time.”

The program allows employers to electronically submit Social Security numbers for their 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.

Under an executive order from President George W. Bush, approximately 168,000 federal contractors were to begin using E-Verify on Jan. 15. The order pertains to federal contracts valued at more than $100,000 and subcontracts worth more than $3,000.

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

The second postponement also reflects the Obama administration’s recent request that all executive departments consider extending the effective date of published regulations not yet effective, the chamber said.

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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