Those familiar with federal contracting requirements know that federal contractors and subcontractors who meet certain jurisdictional thresholds (collectively “contractors”) are required to prepare an affirmative action plan (AAP) for each of their covered establishments every year. However, in the absence of a compliance evaluation by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), contractors have not historically been required to file their AAPs or otherwise verify their compliance with AAP requirements. As a result, the OFCCP has had no method for ensuring that all covered contractors are annually preparing and maintaining AAPs as required. Until now, that is.
On December 2, 2021, the OFCCP introduced a new online Contractor Portal, which it will use to collect information regarding contractors’ compliance with affirmative action plan requirements. Specifically, covered contractors will be required to use the portal to annually certify whether they have developed and maintained an AAP for each of their covered establishments or functional units. In addition, contractors will use the portal to securely submit their AAPs to the OFCCP during a compliance evaluation.
According to the OFCCP’s rollout timeline, contractors may begin registering for access to the Contractor Portal on February 1, 2022. Beginning on March 31, 2022, contractors will be able to use the portal to certify their compliance with AAP requirements. All existing covered contractors are required to certify their compliance with AAP requirements by June 30, 2022.
The OFCCP has also published responses to Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Contractor Portal. Among other things, the FAQs confirm that the portal was developed “with the objective of ensuring that all covered contractors are meeting their obligation to develop and maintain written AAPs” and they emphasize that certification of compliance with AAP requirements will not exempt covered contractors from OFCCP compliance reviews. The FAQs also state that the annual certification requirement will currently only apply to supply and service contractors who satisfy certain jurisdictional thresholds (e.g., a contract of $50,000 or more and 50 or more employees) and they note that new contractors will have 90 days after developing their AAPs to register and certify compliance via the portal.
In order to assist covered contractors in complying with the new certification requirements, the OFCCP has indicated that “how-to videos” and a User Guide will be coming soon. In the meantime, contractors who are required to prepare AAPs should be sure to do so in advance of the June 30, 2022 certification deadline.