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In an article published on December 6, 2021, in the National Defense Magazine, Ambika Biggs discusses requirements for government contractors to prepare affirmative action programs (AAPs) as a measure to ensure that certain classes of people have equal opportunity for employment and advancement.

“The purpose of the programs is to help contractors monitor and examine their employment decisions and compensation systems to ensure individuals who belong to the aforementioned groups have equal opportunity in employment and advancement,” Biggs said. The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) will soon require annual certification from contractors regarding their AAP obligations.

Executive Order 11246 aims to protect rights for women and minorities, requiring federal agencies to include language in most contracts that require contractors to take proactive affirmative action to hire and treat employees without regard to their race or gender. Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 includes protections for individuals with disabilities. The Vietnam-era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 requires qualified contractors and subcontractors to have an AAP for veterans.

Contractors and subcontractors meeting the criteria of each regulation should prepare AAPs in line with the specified requirements. While AAPs for veterans and individuals with disabilities require the same measures, AAPs under EO 11246 include some differing elements.

In August 2021, the Office of Management and Budget approved an Affirmative Action Program Verification Interface, which will require contractors to annually certify whether they have the required AAPs in place. The OFCCP has announced that by June 30 contractors must certify that they have developed required AAPs through a new online portal known as the Contractor Portal.

“Contractors would be wise to prepare now for this upcoming requirement, particularly if they have not kept up with their affirmative action programs obligations,” Biggs said.

For more details, including AAP requirements for each protected class, please click here.

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Heather A. Scott

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