Acquisition

Labor Dept. waives some contractor compliance requirements

By JHVEPhoto Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1675500928 

The Labor Department's compliance office has waived some contractor affirmative action requirements for three months as the COVID-19 pandemic presses companies and federal agencies to quickly meet demands.

The Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) on March 17 temporarily waived some contractors' affirmative action requirements under the three statutes it oversees, which require contractors to hire and advance minorities, women and veterans. The waiver applies to clauses in federal construction and service/supply contracts for COVID-19 relief.

The waiver will last until June 17, but it doesn't put aside requirements for those contractors to enforce other federal, state and local civil rights laws, nor does it stop processing of discrimination complaints.

"Following President Trump's direction, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is committed to swiftly responding to COVID-19," said OFCCP Director Craig Leen, in the statement. "Today's memorandum helps federal agencies and federal contractors engaged in relief efforts to protect the safety, security and health of the American people."

"The waiver is not uncommon" in times of big crisis situations, Shirley Wilcher, executive director of the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, a Washington D.C.-based equal opportunity advocacy and training group, told FCW on March 23.

Similar contracting actions have been taken in the wake of other major disasters such as catastrophic hurricanes to help speed response, but they're hardly welcomed with open arms, according to Wilcher. "Equal opportunity shouldn't take a holiday."

In 2005, the Labor Department's Employment Standards Office issued a similar three-month waiver for contractor affirmative action rules to aid in Hurricane Katrina recovery.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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