The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published a notice in the Federal Register, along with a 12-page supporting document, focusing on the renewal of the information collection for the Contractor Portal interface, previously known as the "Affirmative Action Program Verification Interface."
OFCCP requires federal contractors to annually certify their compliance with the development and maintenance of Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs) through the Contractor Portal. However, this requirement, under the current Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval, is only recognized under the Paperwork Reduction Act. The OFCCP currently lacks the regulatory authority under the APA for the Contractor Portal, rendering it unenforceable.
The request for public comment (open until February 12, 2024) by the OFCCP regarding the renewal of its information collection for the Supply & Service Contractor Portal is being made for several key reasons:
Compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA): The PRA mandates that before a federal agency can implement or renew an information collection process, it must provide the public with an opportunity to comment.
Assessing the Impact of New Requirements: OFCCP proposes to add a new requirement for contractors to enter the Unique Entity ID (UEI) for their parent companies and establishments in the Contractor Portal. This change represents a shift from the previously used Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) Number.
Evaluating the Effectiveness and Utility of the Portal: The public comment period allows OFCCP to gather feedback on the overall effectiveness and utility of the Contractor Portal. This includes understanding how the portal is being used by contractors, any challenges faced, and suggestions for improvement.
Addressing Legal and Regulatory Compliance: The request for comments also seems to be a step towards addressing concerns related to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). While the PRA Notice and Comment process is underway, the OFCCP acknowledges that it does not fully meet the separate requirements of the APA’s Notice and Comment process. Gathering public feedback could help in assessing the legal and regulatory compliance aspects of the portal, especially since the enforceability of the portal under the current framework is uncertain.
Informing Decision Making: The feedback will inform the decision-making process of both OFCCP and the OMB in determining whether the renewal of the information collection is justified and in what form it should be implemented to ensure it serves its intended purpose without imposing unnecessary burdens.
The notice invites public comments, providing an opportunity for stakeholders to voice their opinions and suggestions. Comments must be submitted by February 12, 2024. The current PRA information collection expires on August 31, 2023, and OFCCP requests to continue using the approved information collection for up to 90 days after the new collection’s OMB approval to facilitate IT system updates.
As government contractors, it's essential to understand the implications of these updates. The renewal of the Contractor Portal interface signifies OFCCP's commitment to efficient data collection and compliance monitoring. The opportunity to comment allows contractors to influence the process and address potential concerns. Understanding the scope of the laws enforced by OFCCP is crucial for compliance and maintaining good standing as a federal contractor.