Have you heard of the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)? Chances are you have not if you are outside of the world of federal contracting. The agency is prominent in the government contracting community, as it serves as a civil rights agency holding government contractors accountable for complying with non-discrimination legal requirements and affirmative action. Marcus Stergio, Ombudsman for the OFCCP, provides further insight into what the agency does: “the agency conducts a series of compliance evaluations to essentially review a contractor’s affirmative action plans an equal employment opportunity data to ensure that contractors are hiring, compensating and promoting without discriminating against protected classes of workers… So, discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or status as a protected veteran.”
The OFCCP went a step further, strongly considering feedback from contractors and recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), by instituting an ombuds service to help federal contractors comply with rules and serve as a confidential neutral resource for contractors to seek resolutions about OFCCP. “There’s this fear that exists among the contractor community,” states Stergio, “when you know they feel the need to raise concerns or requests that issues be addressed by the same federal enforcement agency who reviews their employment practices. So, you know, the ombuds service is really the agency’s answer to those recommendations.”
So how will this new ombuds service work? How will people contact the ombudsman or use the service? Marcus Stergio, in an interview with the Federal Drive, is very welcoming, inviting contractors to simply give him a call, though he jokes that, “Although, you know, I think that seems like more of an old school approach these days.” He goes on to invite contractors to send him an email to set up a time and date for a discussion. The OFCCP website can also be utilized to submit online referral forms. Employees of federal contractors can also utilize this OFCCP ombuds service to report instances of individual discrimination.
In today’s world, having a confidential resource to help solve big problems like discrimination in the federal contracting marketplace comes as a welcomed relief. Additionally, having a little help navigating all the legal requirements as a contractor will be extremely helpful. Marcus Stergio maintains his resolve to be as helpful as possible to any and all who seek his help or the help of the OFCCP, aiming to build the comfort level and provide trustworthy service.
Author: Paul McVeigh