August 31, 2021, the Office of Management and Budget approved the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) information collection request for the Affirmative Action Program Verification Interface, through a new online portal, referred to as the Contractor Portal. Covered federal contractors and subcontractors (“contractors”) must use this portal to certify, on an annual basis, whether they have developed and maintained an affirmative action program for each establishment and/or functional unit, as applicable.
The portal was created in response to a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, Report 16-750, Equal Employment Opportunity: Strengthening Oversight Could Improve Federal Contractor Nondiscrimination Compliance. The report determined that “OFCCP has no process for ensuring that the tens of thousands of establishments that have signed a qualifying federal contract have developed an AAP within 120 days of the commencement of the contract or updated it annually." OFCCP implemented the Contractor Portal with the objective of ensuring that all covered contractors are meeting their obligation to develop and maintain written AAPs.
Initially, the portal was called “AAP Verification Interface” (AAP-VI). Although there was a wish list for the portal, the Contractor Portal will provide a secure portal for scheduled contractors to submit to OFCCP their Affirmative Action Program(s) and supplemental data request during compliance evaluations, similar to the EEOC’s portal for employers.
As part of its approval, OMB also approved a User Guide and an “Admin Guide,” which are 23 and 22 pages respectively in length. These are basically a run through on how to use its guides.
The use of the portal has specific milestone dates.
On Feb. 1, 2022, contractors may begin registering for access to the portal. OFCCP will also send an e-mail to each covered federal contractor in its jurisdiction whose email information is available in its system inviting them to register.
On March 31, 2022, contractors will be able to utilize the certification feature in the portal to certify their AAP compliance.
By June 30, 2022, existing contractors must certify whether they have developed and maintained an affirmative action program for each establishment and/or functional unit, as applicable.
A big issue for contractors was the security of its transmissions during audits. This portal solves that issue. The Contractor Portal is built on a Drupal platform. The developed platform is a content management system for government agencies with built-in security modules, including the following:
- Security Kit that deals with any issue or attack concerning HTML injection;
- Login Security that denies full access to the content;
- Password Policy that requires passwords to be more complex;
- Secure Login feature that enables safe login procedures and prevents user data theft; and
- XSS Protection module that protects the website from XSS attacks.
Data is secured according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Federal Information Processing Standards, which are verified by the Department of Labor’s Office of the Chief Information Officer. Additionally, OFCCP staff are required to use their Personal Identification Verification card in order to access the interface.
More information will be published over the next few months about this portal such as who should be the required person certifying, etc. In the meantime, additional information on the Contractor Portal, including Frequently Asked Questions, can be found on OFCCP’s Contractor Portal Landing Page.
This portal is only for use by service and supply contractors, not construction contractors. And certification that a contractor has developed and annually updated their AAP(s) will not exempt them from compliance evaluations.
Additional ASE Resources
Affirmative Action Plan Development - Keep your organization compliant and mitigate risk with ASE’s Affirmative Action services. Our staff expertise spans over 75 years of experience as compliance specialists working both sides of the table—as OFCCP compliance officers, organization representatives managing the AA/EEO function, and as audit support. For more information contact Anthony Kaylin.
Source: OFCCP 12/2/21