The following post is a conversation between Candee Chambers and John C. Fox discussing effective outreach and recruitment for federal contractors.
OFCCP compliance discussion

Candee, what are your DE [DirectEmployers] Members doing to satisfy OFCCP that they have undertaken sufficient outreach for individuals with disabilities and for protected veterans? As you know, OFCCP concluded its Fiscal Year 2014 on September 30, 2014. The OFCCP enforcement database–which can be found by clicking on this link: — reports that in OFCCP’s FY 2014 the “outreach” violation again topped OFCCP’s list as the most frequently cited compliance violation OFCCP found in audits of federal contractors. While the frequency of OFCCP’s compliance violation rates continue to swoon (they have been as high as 76% in the Reagan Administration and 30+% of all audits only three years ago), OFCCP found contractors out of compliance in only 13.3% of all audits closed in FY 2014. However, of the 3,839 Supply and Service audits OFCCP reported closing in FY 2014, the agency signed 510 Conciliation Agreements and 2 Consent Decrees. Of those 510 CAs, 293 of them were due to “recruitment” (or failure of outreach) violations = 57.5% or 7.6% of all audits closed…its number one violation far and away above even recordkeeping violations (222 = 43.5% of all CAs or only 5.8% of all audits closed).

While still too high a violation rate to make me feel comfortable, a 7-8% recruitment violation rate is a terrific improvement for federal contractors since only three years before OFCCP found outreach violations in about 1/3 of all audits. What outreach activities are you finding your DE Members taking which is impressing OFCCP these days and getting them safely through OFCCP audits? This might be interesting information to share among your Members so others can see some “Best Practices” which work and can feel inspired to copy another successful model.

JF(3)First and foremost, what has served to be the most beneficial for our Members is their understanding of their responsibility to do the more ‘personalized’ outreach themselves. I think we have preached that so much to our Members that they ‘get it’ now. It’s even more rewarding when they tell me they are actually enjoying some of the outreach in which they are participating.

The most important things for all federal contractors to remember are the following:

  1. Outreach cannot simply be done by sending jobs through a job aggregator or distribution tool to be ‘posted’ on diversity websites
  2. Outreach can only be effective if the contractor builds relationships with local outreach sources
    1. Melissa Speer, the SWARM OFCCP Regional Director, said at the North Texas ILG Meeting, ‘Outreach is not electronic anymore; it’s all about communication now.’
  3. It’s all about quality, not quantity – there aren’t any requirements to build a specific number of relationships. Whatever the sources are that work and provides qualified candidates are the sources the contractor needs to nurture.
  4. Contractors need to do a regular (my suggestion is quarterly) review to determine if the outreach relationships they are building is actually working for them…are they getting good, qualified candidates?
    1. Most importantly, are those good, qualified candidates getting hired?

JFWhile it is neither fair nor prohibited by OFCCP’s outreach and recruitment regulations, I repeatedly encounter OFCCP Compliance Officers who insist to impasse that federal contractors cannot outsource their outreach and recruitment activities to third parties.

Here is what OFCCP’s outreach regulations require:

“External dissemination of policy, outreach and positive recruitment-Required outreach efforts. (1) The contractor shall undertake appropriate outreach and positive recruitment activities such as those listed in paragraph (f)(2) of this section that are reasonably designed to effectively recruit protected veterans”. 41 CFR Section 60-300.44(f)(1)

[NOTE: OFCCP’s Section 503 regulations at 41 CFR Section 60-741.44(f)(1) are identical as to the requirement for outreach and recruitment of Individuals with Disabilities].

OFCCP’s rationale for prohibiting third parties from undertaking a contractor’s obligation to undertake “outreach and positive recruitment” is that delegated recruitment cannot be “effective” as OFCCP’s regulation requires. OFCCP typically argues, as you know, that delegated outreach and recruitment cannot be effective because the contractor cannot forge meaningful relationships with recruitment sources through third parties.

So, do you have any practical tips for your Members to build the kind of meaningful relationships which spawn the kind of “effective” outreach and positive recruitment satisfactory to OFCCP?

JF(3)So right you are, John! Here are some tips for contractors to ‘build relationships:’

  1. Invite the potential outreach sources for a company tour;
  2. Ask the outreach source if they are able to provide the types of candidates that are needed;
  3. Find out if they have any special programs such as OTJ training in which they will come onsite with the new employee (free of charge) to assist with  the training;
  4. Search for programs where the outreach partners pay the employee’s salary (up to a certain limit) for the first 90 days (or six months, for instance), to ensure they are truly ready to handle the job on their own;
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about finding people with disabilities who might be able to handle various types of jobs…that’s what the outreach partners are there for and they are the experts!

JFCandee, that is terrific and practical advice which ought to not only lead your Members to some good recruitment results, but if implemented properly, your outreach punchlist should also get your Members successfully through OFCCP audits. One problem a number of my clients have additionally encountered is keeping track of their outreach efforts. Do you have any final practical suggestions about documenting contractor outreach efforts so they will be ready to go if and when OFCCP launches an audit?

JF(3)Good documentation of ALL of the contractor’s efforts is critical. In virtually every audit today, OFCCP Compliance Officers require our Members to show their outreach efforts. This can be done in many different ways, but the difficulty arises in trying to house the information in one location. Many times a recruiter (or whomever is responsible for the outreach), leaves the organization and all documentation of their efforts goes with them.

That’s exactly why we created the Partner Relationship Manager (PRM) tool. It allows all of the team members working for our Members to keep track of and document the details of all outreach efforts (for the entire organization) in one place. Most importantly, our Members can create reports and filter the results for the appropriate location(s) for the audit. And…they don’t lose any of the documentation if they experience employee turnover.

DirectEmployers has also downloaded outreach sources into the PRM so our Members may search, by location, for any type of outreach partners they want, i.e., females, minorities, protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. Finding potential outreach partners/resources is probably the most difficult piece of the entire ‘outreach initiative’ for federal contractors.

One thing we are starting with our redefined Compliance Advisory Council is a bi-monthly phone conference, which will allow Members the opportunity to share questions and best practices with other members so they can all learn from one another.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.21.58 AMIn light of this discussion and our dedication to Members sharing their experiences with fellow Members, I would like to invite each of you to click on the below link and write about your experience(s) during OFCCP audits as well as how you addressed these outreach issues. Please be sure to indicate whether we may share your experience with your fellow DE Members since we would all like to learn together and share those experiences in a future Blog. We can also discuss them in our first DE Compliance Advisory Council phone conference now scheduled for February 26, 2015 (more details will follow).

The link can be found here: Compliance Issues of Importance

Thanks, John, for starting this Blog conversation. Let’s see where this goes and what our Members can share! Happy New Year to you, too!

Candee Chambers
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