OFCCP Testifies Before Senate Labor Committee

by Lance W. Seberhagen

Seberhagen & Associates

 

The affirmative action debate continues. On June 15, 1995, Shirley Wilcher, Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), presented invited testimony before the Senate Labor Committee.  The OFCCP administers three laws that require federal contractors to take affirmative action to eliminate discrimination and provide equal employment opportunity: (1) Executive Order 11246 (race, color, sex, religion, and national origin), (2) Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (disability) and (3) the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. 

 

Critics of the OFCCP have said that the problem is not with the affirmative action laws but with OFCCP’s enforcement.  Major complaints are:

 

1.                  OFCCP’s regulations, most of which were issued in the early 1970s, are unnecessarily complex, rigid, and impractical.  Small employers have the same requirements as large employers.

 

2.                  OFCCP places too much emphasis on the numerical aspects of affirmative action.  OFCCP regulations prohibit hiring quotas but require contractors to set numerical targets, often based on very rough data, to measure success.  OFCCP conducts detailed compliance audits of contractors who fall below regional or industry norms for minority hiring.

 

3.                  OFCCP’s compliance officers are poorly trained, resulting in misinterpretation of regulations and inconsistent enforcement.

 

4.                  OFCCP provides little training and technical assistance to help contractors develop better affirmative action programs.

 

5.                  OFCCP’s mission overlaps with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), resulting in duplication of effort.

 

At the heart of all the complaints is OFCCP’s implicit definition of discrimination as the existence of underrepresentation, regardless of cause.  In contrast, under Title VII, EEOC considers adverse impact to be an indicator of discrimination only if the employer cannot show that the adverse impact was caused by a business necessity (e.g., valid selection procedures) or some other nondiscriminatory reason.

 

The full text of OFCCP’s testimony to the Senate Labor Committee is provided elsewhere in the PTC/MW Newsletter.

 

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OFCCP STATEMENT TO SENATE LABOR COMMITTEE

(June 15, 1995)

 

Madam Chair and Members of the Committee:

 

My name is Shirley J. Wilcher, and I am the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Federal Contract Compliance, Employment Standards Administration, U.S. Department of Labor.  I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the Committee to discuss the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), its mission and its efforts to promote equal employment opportunity in the American workplace. In particular, I would like to thank the Chair, Senator Kassebaum, with whom we had an opportunity to meet earlier this year and who I know has a keen interest in and understanding of our program. I would also like to thank Senator Kennedy, the Ranking Minority Member for inviting me to address the Committee.  I request that my written statement be entered into the record of these proceedings and I will briefly summarize my remarks.

 

As you are all aware, President Clinton has asked for a comprehensive review of Federal affirmative action policies. The reasons for this review are: (a) to examine current Federal laws and regulations regarding affirmative action policies; (b) to analyze their effectiveness and relevance to the current economic climate; and (c) to recommend changes as appropriate. This review is ongoing, and I am advised that the President has drawn no conclusions and made no decisions about the continued need for certain affirmative action policies. Until such time as the President’s review has been completed, I can only respond to questions that pertain to the OFCCP and the enforcement of its nondiscrimination and affirmative action mandates under the laws we administer.

 

I do note, of course, that on June 12 the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena.  The decision has significant implications for Federal programs that accord minority preferences.  However, Executive Order 11246 does not require the use of racial or gender preferences.  The numerical goals approach, which implements the affirmative action provision of Executive Order 11246, is not based on racial or gender preferences, or quotas.  Rather, it is a mechanism designed to measure the success of contractors’ good faith efforts at broadening the pool of qualified candidates for entry level or promotional opportunities.  Quotas are expressly prohibited by OFCCP’s regulations,  and selections for  employment or promotion must be made without regard to race or gender, consistent with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  Accordingly, the Adarand decision should not have an effect on affirmative action as it is implemented by OFCCP under Executive Order 11246.

 

While I cannot, in this forum, engage in a general debate about the Nation’s affirmative action policies, I am pleased to discuss the OFCCP, our mission and our methods of administering the laws that have been entrusted to the agency.  Additionally, I would like to discuss how we are also working to update our procedures, streamline our operations and improve our ability to respond to contractor and constituent needs.  Over the past few months there has been an extended national debate about affirmative action programs. At times, the debate has been characterized by historical inaccuracies, factual errors, and a complete misuse of the terms that describe these important public policies.  Even worse, at times the discussion has degenerated to the point that reasonable voices could not be heard. I would like to thank the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee for the opportunity to have a calm, reasoned, and informed discussion about affirmative action as enforced by the OFCCP.

                                                                                                                                                                       

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OFCCP is responsible for the administration of three equal employment opportunity programs that apply to Government contractors and subcontractors: Executive Order 11246 as amended, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the affirmative action provisions of the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.  Taken together, these laws ban discrimination and require Federal contractors and subcontractors, as a condition of their Government contracts, to take affirmative action to ensure that minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, special disabled and Vietnam era veterans have an equal opportunity to compete for employment.  Approximately 22 percent of the labor force (about 26 million workers) is employed by Federal contractors or subcontractors subject to the laws administered by OFCCP.  In Fiscal Year 1993, OFCCP’s covered Federal contractors included 92,500 non-construction establishments and an estimated 100,000 construction establishments. The Federal Government awarded more than $161 billion involving 176,000 prime contracts in Fiscal Year 1993.

 

The requirement that Government contracts contain a clause prohibiting the contractor from discriminating in employment on the basis of race, color, creed, and national origin has been an established part of Federal contracting policy since 1941, when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6602 outlawing discrimination in the Federal Government and in the war industries.  It has been maintained by Executive Orders of five successive presidents -- Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson.  The early Executive Orders prohibited discrimination alone.  Experience, however, indicated that something more than mere nondiscrimination was needed to overcome the lingering effects of past discrimination and the continuing barriers that prevented minorities from being hired and promoted on the basis of merit.  In its Final Report to President Eisenhower, the Committee on Government Contracts, headed by Vice President Richard M. Nixon, concluded:

 

Overt discrimination, in the sense that an employer actually refuses to hire solely because of race, religion, color, or national origin is not as prevalent as is generally believed.  To a greater degree, the indifference of employers to establishing a positive policy of nondiscrimination hinders qualified applicants and employees from being hired and promoted on the basis of equality.

 

President Kennedy incorporated the concept of “affirmative action,” when he issued Executive Order 10925 in 1961.  Affirmative action was not contingent upon a finding of discrimination. Rather, Executive Order 10925 imposed on all covered contractors a general obligation requiring positive steps designed to overcome obstacles to equal employment opportunity.  In 1965 President Johnson issued Executive Order 11246, which assigned responsibility for the contract compliance program to the Secretary of Labor.

 

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WHAT IS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER 11246?

 

In the employment context, affirmative action is the set of positive steps that employers use to promote equal employment opportunity.  Affirmative action under Executive Order 11246 refers to a process that requires a Government contractor to examine and evaluate the total scope of its personnel practices for the purpose of identifying and correcting any barriers to equal employment opportunity.  Where problems are identified, the contractor is required to develop a program that is precisely tailored to correct the deficiencies, where appropriate, the contractor is required to establish reasonable ‘“goals and timetables” to measure success toward achieving that result.  A non-construction contractor or subcontractor with a Federal contract of $50,000 or more, and 50 or more employees, is required to develop a written affirmative action program for each of its establishments.  A written affirmative action program helps the contractor identify and analyze potential problems in the participation and utilization of women, minorities, Vietnam era veterans and the disabled in the contractor’s workforce.  The “goals and timetables” component of affirmative action planning sometimes gives rise to the erroneous claim that Executive Order 11246 is a “preference” or “quota” program.  It is critical that we attempt to correct the public’s misconceptions and clarify the essential characteristics of the affirmative action requirements Executive Order 11246 imposes upon employers that contract with the Federal government.

 

ARE GOALS A SUBTERFUGE FOR QUOTAS?

 

No.  The numerical goals component of the affirmative action programs under the Executive Order has never been designed to be, nor may it properly or lawfully be, interpreted as employment quotas or preferential treatment with respect to persons of any color, race, religion, sex or national origin.  The Executive Order regulations are explicit on that point: “Goals may not be rigid and inflexible quotas which must be met, but must be targets, reasonably attainable by means of applying every good faith effort to make all aspects of the entire affirmative action program work.” (41 CFR 60-2.12(e).)

 

In addition to the prohibition regarding quotas contained in the regulations, OFCCP (then OFCC) was one of the signatories to a 1973 inter-agency Memorandum that distinguished between goals and quotas. The 1973 Memorandum, which also was signed by the Department of Justice, the then Civil Service Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, was one of the earliest and most comprehensive policy statements on the subject. The Memorandum described goals to be a numerical objective realistically established based on the availability of qualified applicants in the job market and expected vacancies. Quota systems, on the other hand, were described as “any system which requires that considerations of relative abilities and qualifications be subordinated to considerations of race, religion, sex or national origin in determining who is to be hired, promoted, etc. in order to achieve a certain numerical position....” There is no basis for the often repeated assertion that affirmative action requires employers to disregard the relative qualifications of employees and prospective employees.  The numerical goals utilized by the Executive Order program meet the definition of goals as described in the 1973 Memorandum and not the quota systems the Memorandum also defined.

 

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ARE GOALS INTENDED TO ACHIEVE PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION OR EQUAL RESULTS?

 

Not at all.  Numerical goals do not create guarantees for specific groups, nor are they designed to achieve proportional representation or equal results.  Rather, the goal-setting process in affirmative action planning is used to target and measure the effectiveness of affirmative action efforts to eradicate and prevent discrimination, while the employer’s performance in achieving goals may indicate the effectiveness of that employer’s current efforts, the goals are not ends unto themselves.  Moreover, the numerical benchmarks are realistically established based on the availability of qualified applicants in the job market or qualified candidates in the employer’s work force.

 

DOES AFFIRMATIVE ACTION UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER 11246 REQUIRE EMPLOYERS TO HIRE OR PROMOTE WOMEN OR MINORITIES ON THE BASIS OF RACE OR SEX?

 

Absolutely not.  No requirement exists that any specific position be filled by a person of a particular race, gender or ethnicity, even where the phenomena of jobs traditionally segregated by race or sex, remain intact.  Instead, the requirement is to engage in outreach and other efforts to broaden the pool of qualified candidates to include groups previously excluded.  The selection decision -- to hire, promote or lay off -- is to be made on a non-discriminatory basis.

 

DOES AFFIRMATIVE ACTION UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER 11246 CONFLICT WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF MERIT?

 

No.  In seeking to achieve its goals, an employer is never required to hire a person who does not have the qualifications needed to perform the job successfully; hire an unqualified person in preference to another applicant who is qualified; or hire a less qualified person in preference to a more qualified one.  Thus, unlike quotas, numerical goals allow persons to be judged on individual ability, and are, therefore, entirely consistent with the principles of merit. Moreover, employers who select unqualified individuals on the bases of race or gender or who pass ever others with demonstrably better qualifications in order to meet a numerical goal would violate the Executive Order.  It is noteworthy that during a random survey of conciliation agreements obtained by the field in FY ‘93 and FY ’94, OFCCP found an example of an OFCCP regional office requiring corrective action by a contractor who had an employment practice that discriminated against males, both whites and minorities.  The office cited the contractor and required it to enter into an agreement providing relief to both white and minority male victims.

 

SHOULD GOALS BE TREATED AS A CEILING OR A FLOOR?

 

Neither.  The Executive Order does not require that contractors treat goals as either a ceiling or a floor for the employment of particular groups.  Goals establish neither a minimum nor a maximum number of individuals of any group that must be employed.  Moreover, using numerical goals as a minimum or a maximum without regard to job qualifications would be an impermissible quota and in violation of the Executive Order.

 

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WHAT IS THE STANDARD FOR COMPLIANCE UNDER THE EXECUTIVE ORDER?

 

The standard is and has always been “good faith effort.”  Good faith is measured by the extent to which the contractor has taken steps to over-come real and artificial barriers to nondiscriminatory employment.  These steps include expanded recruitment of minorities and women, modification of non-job related selection criteria, expansion of training and educational opportunities and reduction of subjective evaluation tools. Compliance is never measured solely by whether the goals are met.  Failure to meet the goals, for example, simply raises the question of whether good faith efforts were undertaken to achieve the goals, and to make the overall affirmative action program work.  Failure to meet the goals by itself is not a violation of the Executive Order; and no contractor should ever be sanctioned on merely numerical grounds.  A recent random review of conciliation (settlement) agreements between OFCCP and Federal contractors has shown that this agency has not required quotas or insisted on the attainment of a goal without regard to job qualifications or the circumstances in which contractors operate.

 

IS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER 11246 SIMPLY “A-RACIAL SPOILS SYSTEM”?

 

Unquestionably no.  Critics of affirmative action have argued that affirmative action is a system of spoils for unqualified African Americans or Hispanics, and is intended to benefit only these groups.  As indicated above, affirmative action is not, nor has it ever been, intended to require preferences.  It does not entail the disregard of qualifications.  Moreover, affirmative action at OFCCP is not merely a race issue, it is a gender issue, a disability issue and a veterans’ issue. Not only does OFCCP enforce Executive Order 11246, amended to include gender in 1967, it also enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the affirmative action provisions of the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. Both statutes, signed into law by a Republican president, require affirmative action.  Thus, using affirmative action as a racial “wedge issue” misrepresents its scope as well as its intent.

 

SHOULD AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AS IMPLEMENTED UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER 11246 BE ABOLISHED BECAUSE IT STIGMATIZES ITS BENEFICIARIES?

 

Finally, no.  Beneficiaries of affirmative action have nothing to be ashamed of.  Affirmative action is a rejection of employment discrimination rather than a reflection of the abilities of minorities, women, the disabled and veteran workers.  Those who understand the intent of the architects of affirmative action under Executive Order 11246 know that what affirmative action essentially requires is that employers “cast a wider net”; that they make additional efforts to seek and recruit persons who may not ordinarily be considered for opportunities for positions in a company.  Affirmative action requires employers who underutilize qualified women and minorities to extend beyond their usual networks, where they would be likely to find others resembling themselves, and locate qualified women, minorities, persons with disabilities or disabled veterans for consideration.  Once identified, these persons should be allowed to compete with their counterparts without any diminution in standards or expectations. Moreover, one must compare any stigma of benefiting from affirmative action with the stigma and frustration of being unemployed or under-employed, and feeling altogether shut out.

 

HOW DOES OFCCP ADMINISTER THE CONTRACT COMPLIANCE PROGRAM?              A-3/2

 

OFCCP enforces the nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements by conducting compliance reviews of contractors and subcontractors.  In Fiscal Year 1994, the program completed more than 4,000 reviews. Consistent with the dual mandate of Executive Order 11246 -- nondiscrimination and affirmative action -- a compliance review is a bifurcated process, consisting of an examination of the contractor’s affirmative action program and a determination of whether there is discrimination in a contractor’s employment policies and practices.  The review focuses on both the possible existence of discrimination and the contractor’s good faith steps that have been taken to increase the utilization of minorities and females, if required.  OFCCP utilizes principles developed in Title VII case law to identify areas of potential discrimination for further analysis.

 

OFCCP also responds to discrimination complaints. In 1994, more than 800 complaints of discrimination were investigated, OFCCP investigates primarily those Executive Order complaints involving a class of individuals or indicating a pattern of potential discrimination. Complaints involving only one individual are normally referred to the EEOC pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies.  OFCCP also investigates complaints filed under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, alleging discrimination on the basis of disability, or under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, in which discriminatory actions against disabled and Vietnam Era veterans may be alleged.

 

Where problems are found, OFCCP attempts to work with the contractor, often entering into a conciliation agreement or a letter of commitment to resolve minor problems.  A conciliation agreement may involve back pay, job offers, seniority credit, promotions or other forms of make-whole remedies to those who have been discriminated against.  Where a contractor appears to be underutilizing members of the protected groups and has not made good faith efforts, the conciliation agreement may also involve new training programs, special recruitment efforts, or other affirmative action measures.  If conciliation efforts prove unsuccessful, OFCCP refers the case to the Solicitor of Labor for administrative enforcement proceedings under which a contractor is entitled to a hearing before an administrative law judge.  Where a settlement is not reached before or after a hearing, the Secretary of Labor, upon the recommendation of the administrative law judge, may impose sanctions on the contractor, including loss of its government contract or debarment from future contracts. However, contractors are provided with full due process rights in the administrative process and may appeal the Secretary’s order in Federal court.

 

HAS THE OFCCP HAD MUCH SUCCESS IN REDUCING EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION?

 

Yes, progress has been made: but there is more work to be done.  Research studies conducted in the 1980s documented that affirmative action had been effective in raising the occupational status of minority and female workers. (Leonard, Jonathan S., Employment and Occupational Advance Under Affirmative Action, August 1984).  A similar conclusion was reached in a study of OFFCP-reviewed and unreviewed contractor establishments, with reviewed establishments showing a greater utilization of women and minorities in the higher-skilled and white collar jobs.  (Grump, Griffin, Employment Patterns of Minorities and Women in Federal Contractor and Noncontractor Establishments, 1974-1980: a Report of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, June 1984.)

 

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In spite of this progress, we know discrimination still exists. Studies such as the Glass Ceiling Commission report have provided evidence of continuing discrimination.  Additionally, OFCCP’s enforcement statistics also provide a testament to the continuing problem of discrimination in America: benefits worth nearly $40 million, including back pay, for 11,000 victims of discrimination were obtained in settlements in 1994 alone.  During FY 1994, four debarments were also ordered for contractors who had violated conciliation agreements that had been previously entered to resolve violations of Executive Order 11246. The cases in which OFCCP is finding discrimination are at the entry level as well as in the executive suite. From New York City to San Diego, Atlanta to Seattle, companies continue to deny access to women, minorities, veterans and the disabled. In banking, engineering, construction, computers, higher education, the hotel industry, manufacturing, utilities, and hospitals, OFCCP continues to find discrimination; no industry has been without discrimination. One egregious example of discrimination is an investigation of discrimination at an Alabama bank, in which our compliance officers recently found that the personnel officer, in interviewing potential hires, had interview notes that revealed statements pertaining to race, the color of one’s eyes, hair and other physical attributes.  This bank official wrote:

 

Candidate A was attractive white female, blond hair, blue eyes teller type appearance....  Candidate B [however was described as] very large lips and hips, overweight, dark skin, black girl.  Her hair is longer than most.  Appearance is not good enough to meet the public.

 

These are not the interview notes of a bank official in 1965: these are the perceptions, stereotypes and biases of a person working for a Federal contractor in 1995.  And this is not an isolated case.

 

Other examples include a large manufacturer of business machines in California that agreed to a back pay settlement to thirty qualified individuals who were discriminatorily denied jobs. This was in response to charges of gender and racial discrimination.  The Washington. D.C. headquarters of an internationally known hotel and restaurant chain agreed to back pay and salary adjustments to forty top-level women and minorities who were paid less than their white male peers.   In addition, the firm agreed to review its compensation practices to prevent a recurrence of the wage disparity.  A suburban Washington, D.C. hospital was found to have engaged in gender-based salary discrimination.  Sick pay was given to 52 women in the top six grades at the hospital.  More than l00 minority applicants for part-time meter reader positions benefited when an Ohio utility agreed to a financial settlement to resolve charges of racial discrimination.

 

A nationally known poultry processor in Texas agreed to back pay for 82 qualified individuals with disabilities who were discriminatorily denied employment.  There are dozens of African-American women in Southern California who benefited when a Southern California hotel agreed to provide back pay to resolve charges of race and sex discrimination in hiring.  The hotel also agreed to consider them for job openings as they occur.  In the State of Washington, veterans who were discriminated against by a utility, benefited from the OFCCP’s settlement in which the contractor agreed to provide back pay, training and hire a specialist to address veterans issues.  And in resolving a case that was more than 18 years old, more than 6,000 women who were victims of gender discrimination were eligible to share in a multimillion dollar settlement.

 

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To those who think that discrimination is no longer a problem, I submit that this nation has not reached the point of being a colorblind society and that the color of one’s skin, or one’s gender, continues to be considered in an assessment of one’s ability to perform a job.  As long as OFCCP continues to find discrimination at the entry level as well as in the executive suite; as long as the workplace fails to reflect the qualified and available women, minorities, disabled and veterans that are in the workforce and deserve a chance to prove their worth, then affirmative action is still necessary.  And OFCCP must and will utilize affirmative action to ensure that all persons receive a fair opportunity to compete in employment with government contractors and subcontractors. These enforcement cases are an important aspect of the contract compliance program.  However, we not only enforce the law, we also seek out opportunities to discuss the underlying principles of the law and assist contractors in complying with the law.

 

MANAGERIAL REFORMS

 

Madam Chair, I recognize that OFCCP can do a better job in serving its “customers” -- both contractors and individuals who are denied employment opportunities on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or veterans status. And I am committed to making sure that it does.  Since I became head of the OFCCP on February 14, 1994, we have embarked on an exciting and exhaustive program of self-assessment, streamlining and self-improvement with a primary focus on serving our customers better.  Much has happened that I am very proud of and which I believe is good not only for OFCCP, but more importantly for Federal contractors and individuals who rely on us for employment protection.

 

We are considering ways to reduce paperwork requirements, eliminate unnecessary regulations, and simplify and clarify the regulations while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our programs. This is not only in response to Vice-President Gore’s initiative to Reinvent Government -- but also in response to feedback we received from Federal contractors and complainants to our 1994 customer survey.  As a result of our regulatory review, which consisted, in part, of meetings with the public and our front line staff, we have begun the process for proposing regulatory changes that I believe will help transform OFCCP into a more customer service oriented organization. OFCCP is considering revisions to its affirmative action procedures in a number of areas, including these three: revision of the structure and format of the Affirmative Action Program (AAP); implementing the requirement for the annual summary report; and revising the compliance review process.

 

Our overall objectives are to reduce the paperwork, reduce the time it takes to prepare an Affirmative Action Plan, devise reporting requirements that make sense and that are tailored to the contractor’s organization, and to focus on substantive issues, rather than boilerplate text.  A revised review process will also allow OFCCP to better tailor and focus its limited compliance review resources.  This should shorten the compliance review process in many instances.  It also has the benefit of allowing OFCCP to concentrate its compliance efforts on contractors with the most significant employment problems. We also plan to issue final rules under Section 503 in order to conform them with EEOC’s regulations implementing Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  In addition, we plan to issue proposed regulatory revisions to our veterans’ program regulations to conform them with the section 503 regulations where appropriate.

 

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In order to insure that OFCCP has procedures and regulations that make sense, we will continue to have consultation meetings and regularly seek input from the contractor and constituent communities.  Before finally implementing these revised review procedures, OFCCP will also engage in substantial pilot testing, in order to gauge the relative burden and impact of the changes on both the contractor community and the agency.  Working with the major contracting agencies, OFCCP is creating partnerships with contractors, community groups, and labor unions, to monitor the construction mega-projects, focusing on good faith efforts for recruiting women and minorities. We will provide technical assistance and consult on affirmative action from the preaward stage through the completion of these mega-projects. Finally, in an effort to ensure that our policies and procedures are well-grounded, we are testing several different strategies on a regional level.

 

PARTNERSHIPS AND OUTREACH

 

OFCCP continuously engages in efforts to foster partnerships between the Federal government, state and local governments, organized labor, employers including higher education institutions, public interest organizations and the contracting agencies, with the ultimate goal to ensure that equal employment opportunities are available to minorities, women, individuals with disabilities and covered veterans.  In 1994, well over 17,000 customers received nearly 48,000 hours of compliance assistance.  For the first time, we are now drafting a “how to” manual -- a technical assistance guide which will be used by compliance officers during workshops and seminars.  This manual also will be provided to contractors and the public upon request, and an electronic data network is being established to allow prompt responses to requests for information from customers.  We are also providing first-time contractors with individualized assistance in developing their first affirmative action program.  This one-on-one service is, we believe, a critical step in developing a partnership with the contractor.

 

OFCCP also plans to implement a customer service improvement plan which was developed based on data and comments received from surveys of construction and supply and service contractors.  In the fourth quarter of FY 1994, we established a complaint appeals task force which successfully eliminated our entire backlog of discrimination complaint appeals in five weeks and developed procedures that are now used to avoid having future backlogs.  We also meet regularly with other civil rights enforcement agencies to share information and to better coordinate our actions so as to avoid duplicating efforts and wasting limited resources.

 

RECOGNITION AND AWARDS

 

The Department of Labor believes that it is important to recognize exemplary efforts contractors have taken to ensure equal employment opportunity.  The Secretary’s Opportunity 2000 and our Exemplary Voluntary Efforts (EVE) annual awards programs recognize private employers who have worked effectively to support the creation of innovative and successful efforts to advance equal employment opportunity.  The awards also recognize the significant investment that these employers are making to advance equal employment.  In 1994, recipients of the Opportunity 2000 and EVE awards included Proctor and Gamble (Cincinnati. Ohio), Hyman/Manhattan Joint Venture (Fort Sam Houston, Texas), Rohm and Haas (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Union Bank (San Francisco, California) and Marshall University (West Virginia). Previous recipients include Hallmark of Kansas; Motorola of Illinois; Digital Equipment of Massachusetts; United Technologies of Connecticut; Saturn Corporation of Tennessee; and Dow Corning of Michigan.

 

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Recipients of our first annual Exemplary Public Interest Contribution (EPIC) Awards included Women Employed (Chicago, Illinois), for its critical role in combating discrimination in the workplace; Crispus Attacks Association (York, Pennsylvania), for its efforts to provide jobs and training for low income and minority residents; and the Council for Tribal Employment Rights and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (South Dakota and Washington) for providing exceptional training and employment for Native Americans on reservations.

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Madam Chair and Members of this Committee, I believe that nondiscrimination and affirmative action as enforced by the OFCCP are useful, and indeed vital, tools in preventing and combating employment discrimination by Government contractors.  I also believe that we can, and must, eliminate unnecessary regulation and paperwork imposed on contractors. Additionally, I am committed to ensuring that we are as efficient as possible in our agency’s efforts to ensure equal opportunity in the workplace.  Much remains to be done to achieve the Nation’s goal of equal employment opportunity.  Outreach and recruitment to expand the pool of qualified applicants and goals to measure progress are reasonable and useful elements of our program to ensure equal employment opportunity. With the changes we are implementing, I believe you will see OFCCP move much closer than ever to fulfilling this commitment.  As to the question of affirmative action as administered by OFCCP, I believe that Edwin L. Artzt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Procter and Gamble, said it best earlier this year when he said:

 

Affirmative action has been a positive force in our Company. What’s more, we have always thought of affirmative action as a starting point. We have never limited our standards for providing opportunities to women and minorities to levels mandated by law.  We’ve always set our goals higher, and we have achieved them. Regardless of what government may do, we believe we have a moral contract with all of the women and minorities in our Company--a moral contract to provide equal opportunity for employment, equal opportunity for advancement, and equal opportunity for financial reward -- and no change in law or regulation would cause us to turn back the clock....  Government can simplify the bureaucracy, and it should, but Government can also still preserve the principle that compliance mechanisms must exist, and it should do that, too.

 

This concludes my prepared testimony.  I would be pleased to answer any questions.

 

THANK YOU.