The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has released a new directive that creates an ombudsman service in an effort to facilitate the fair and equitable resolution of concerns raised by OFCCP’s external stakeholders.

The new Directive 2018-09 addresses an issue raised in a 2016 GAO report, Equal Employment Opportunity: Strengthening Oversight Could Improve Federal Contract Nondiscrimination Compliance. According to the report: “Stakeholders and contractors fear that asking OFCCP for assistance would call attention to them and possibly make them a target for future OFCCP enforcement actions, such as compliance evaluations.” The report recommended that the OFCCP review and enhance contractor compliance assistance, and increase transparency and communication with agency stakeholders.

OFCCP said in creating the new directive it also considered comments from the three Compliance Assistance Town Halls held in September 2017, and the three stakeholder meetings held in January 2018. The new ombudsman program was a proposed deliverable as part of OFCCP’s Town Hall Action Plan.

Under the new directive, the Ombud service will be tasked with:
· Listening to external stakeholder concerns about OFCCP matters and suggestions for improvements
· Promoting and facilitating resolution of OFCCP matters at the district and region office levels
· Working with OFCCP district and regional offices as a liaison to resolve certain issues after stakeholders have exhausted district and regional office channels

The Ombud will be a career staff position reporting directly to the career Deputy Director. OFCCP’s national office will also consider and act upon, as appropriate, recommendations provided by the OFCCP Ombud. OFCCP’s national office will designate or hire an OFCCP Ombud with approval by appropriate personnel divisions within the U.S. Department of Labor.

OFCCP says the Ombud service will allow the federal program to provide better compliance assistance and oversight in their interactions with stakeholders. OFCCP hopes the new service will encourage federal contractors to participate in audit practices and other initiatives.

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