Federal Contractors Not Taking Necessary Steps to Employ Veterans, Say Veterans Groups

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Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, May 14, 2009, Economic Opportunity Subcommittee Chairwoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) conducted a hearing to review the current state of federal contractor compliance. The hearing was called in response to concerns raised by veterans regarding federal contractors that do not comply with current regulations. 

“These reports are specifically troubling considering the increased number of service members returning to the civilian workforce,” said Chairwoman Herseth Sandlin. “It is also disturbing when I hear that disabled veteran hiring practices are inadequate coupled with the lack of effort by contractors to employ disabled veterans.”

Hearing witnesses discussed current state and federal contractor compliance with the Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 and Section 4212 of Title 38.  These laws ban discrimination and require federal contractors and subcontractors to ensure that all veterans and disabled veterans have equal opportunity in the work place.

     

The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is responsible for ensuring that contractors doing business with the federal government do not discriminate and take steps to employ and advance in employment service disabled veterans who are entitled to a disability compensation for a disability rated 30 percent or more and veterans of the Vietnam Era. 

Christina Roof, National Deputy Director of AMVETS offered testimony urging the VA to build a system to enact real accountability in the management of contracts given from federal agencies and the Veterans Health Administration.  Ms. Roof stated, “AMVETS finds it unacceptable that the VA’s decentralized system of acquisition function and contract procurement is resulting in inconsistent applications of the policies and initiatives, thus resulting in loss of employment opportunities for veteran owned businesses in these challenging economic times.”

Lorenzo Harrison, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at the Department of Labor, discussed the penalties used by OFCCP to increase federal contractor compliance.  He said, “Where voluntary compliance cannot be achieved, OFCCP may continue conciliation efforts with the contractor; refer the matter to the Solicitor of Labor to institute formal, administrative enforcement proceedings; or refer the case to the Attorney General for litigation, as appropriate.  If there is a finding of discrimination against a protected veteran, the contractor would be required to provide back-pay and other make-whole remedies.”  He also testified that OFCCP does not presently have formal agreements to share information with other agencies on federal contractors who have failed to comply. 

Chairwoman Herseth Sandlin concluded, “This Subcommittee will continue to work to determine if there is a need for stricter enforcement measures and to explore the option of assisting employers who are making good faith efforts in hiring and promoting qualified disabled veterans in the workforce. This Subcommittee is fully committed to protecting our veterans and providing protections against employment discrimination.”

“As the government relies on federal contractors to provide necessary and specialized services, they are expected to comply with regulations and take affirmative steps to employ and advance veterans employment,” said Bob Filner, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “There is a need to streamline efforts between the Department of Labor and the Department of Veterans Affairs when it comes to training and employing veterans.  The Committee stands ready to work with newly appointed Labor Secretary Solis to address this important issue to support our returning veterans.” 

Witness List

Panel 1

*       Thomas S. Whitaker, President of the National Association of
State Workforce Agencies, Deputy Chairman/Chief Counsel, North Carolina Employment Security Commission

*       Christina Roof, National Deputy Legislative Director, AMVETS

*       Joseph C. Sharpe, Director, Economic Commission, The American
Legion

*       Rick Weidman, Executive Director for Policy and Government
Affairs, Vietnam Veterans of America

Panel 2

*       Lorenzo Harrison, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for the
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, U.S. Department of Labor

*       Jan R. Frye, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition and
Logistics, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Prepared testimony and a link to the webcast of the hearing are available on the internet at this link:
http://veterans.house.gov/hearings/hearing.aspx?newsid=393

 

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