New OFCCP Directive Rolls Back Previous Administration’s Contractor-Friendly CERT Principles

On March 31, 2022, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued its second directive of the Biden administration, Directive 2022-02, titled “Effective Compliance Evaluations and Enforcement.” The policies outlined in the new directive signal the end of the contractor friendly policies of the Trump era and a return to an enforcement heavy compliance regime.

Directive 2022-02 revokes several Trump era directives including Directive 2018-06, Contractor Recognition Program (Aug. 24, 2018); Directive 2018-08, Transparency in OFCCP Compliance Activities (Sept. 19, 2018); Directive 2020-02, Efficiency in Compliance Evaluations (Apr. 17, 2020); and Directive 2021-02, Certainty in OFCCP Policies and Practices (Dec. 11, 2020). These policies were initially developed as a part of the OFCCP’s CERT initiative towards certainty, efficiency, recognition and transparency in compliance.

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Equal Pay Day Heralds New Executive Order and OFCCP Directive

On Equal Pay Day (March 15, 2022), President Biden issued an executive order aimed at advancing the effectiveness in federal contracting by promoting pay equity and transparency in tandem with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) first formal directive (DIR 2022-01) during the Biden administration on pay equity in federal contractors. The directive addresses the OFCCP’s position on obtaining compensation related documents sought during the agency’s audits, which includes pay equity review.

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Federal Court Suspends Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate Nationwide

On December 7, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia issued a preliminary injunction temporarily in Georgia v. Biden, halting the enforcement of Executive Order 14042 (EO 14042) nationwide. In doing so, the court joined the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, which issued a preliminary injunction in Kentucky v. Biden last week halting the enforcement of EO 14042 in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

Seven states — Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia — the governors of several of those states, and various state agencies filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of Georgia, challenging EO 14042 and requesting that the court issue a preliminary injunction. The Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC), a trade organization, moved to intervene in the action, and the court granted ABC’s request. In granting the preliminary injunction, the court determined that the plaintiffs met each of these required elements: (1) likelihood of success; (2) irreparable harm; (3) the balance of the harm; and (4) public interest.

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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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