OFCCP Announces Long-Awaited Federal Contractor Compliance Portal

On December 2, 2021, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) officially announced its long-awaited annual affirmative action plan (AAP) certification process, which will require federal contractors and subcontractors (contractors) to register with its new Contractor Portal beginning in 2022.

The Contractor Portal will require covered contractors to certify whether they are meeting their existing requirement to develop and maintain annual AAPs. Specifically, contractors that hold a contract of $50,000 or more and employ 50 or more employees must develop and maintain AAPs pursuant to Executive Order 11246 and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. If a contractor has at least 50 employees and a contract of $150,000 or more, then it must also develop an AAP pursuant to the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.  While contractors already certify AAP compliance, at least implicitly, as a part of the regular contracting process, this new requirement necessarily imposes an added obligation to conduct the appropriate diligence required in order to certify accurately and explicitly.  As such, contractors need to be particularly mindful of False Claims Act exposure in the event of an inaccurate or false certification.

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Courts Suspend Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate in Three States and Healthcare Worker Vaccine Mandate Nationwide

This week, federal district courts issued multiple preliminary injunctions temporarily halting the enforcement of two federal vaccine mandates: Executive Order 14042 (EO 14042), which requires certain federal contractors to ensure that their employees are vaccinated, and the interim final rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which requires staff at health care facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs to be vaccinated (CMS rule). The current preliminary injunction halting the enforcement of EO 14042 applies only to Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. The combination of the preliminary injunctions preventing the enforcement of the CMS rule, however, applies nationwide.

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Safer Federal Workforce Task Force Issues COVID-19 Workplace Safety Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors

The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force published guidance last week requiring certain federal contractors to implement COVID-19 safety measures. Most notably, the guidance directs federal contractors to ensure their employees are vaccinated and expands the directive to apply beyond employees directly or indirectly servicing federal contracts.

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President Biden Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Attestation Requirement for Federal Employees and Onsite Contractors

On July 29, 2021, the Biden administration announced that federal employees and onsite contractors must attest to being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or they will be required to wear a mask on the job and physically distance, comply with at least a weekly screening testing requirement, and restrict official travel. Private employers are encouraged to adopt similar safety protocols; such protocols will likely be required for federal contractors. Specifically, President Biden noted in his remarks that he was “directing [his] administration to take steps to apply similar standards to all federal contractors. If you want to do business with the federal government, get your workers vaccinated.”

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OFCCP Publishes 2021 Corporate Scheduling Announcement List for Upcoming Audit

Federal contractors should immediately review the Fiscal Year 2021 Corporate Scheduling Announcement List (CSAL), released on July 1 by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), to see if they have been selected for a future audit.

This CSAL notifies 750 Supply & Service establishments (locations) of upcoming audits and is the only advance notification to the contractor of the upcoming audit. In years past, establishments selected for an audit received notice by mail in the form of a Corporate Scheduling Announcement Letter. But now, OFCCP is exclusively posting the CSAL online.

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DOL Finalizes Rule Requiring Internal Approval of Evidence Prior to Issuing Preliminary Notices of Discriminatory Bias Claims Against Contractors

Contractors have more clarity on the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) investigation into discriminatory bias claims, as a final rule is published outlining consistent parameters and approval protocol for evidence. These new developments should equip contractors with additional information prior to the agency issuing a Notice of Violation, allowing contractors an opportunity to refute any initial determination made by the OFCCP or seek prompt resolution.

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