Font Size Down Font Size Up Reset Font Size

Sign Up for Committee Updates

 

Witness Testimony of Joseph C. Sharpe, Jr., American Legion, Director, National Economic Commission

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

In the Federal Register of August 8, 2007, OFCCP significantly expanded the responsibilities of Federal contractors concerning their affirmative action plan for veterans.  The Federal Register noted that Federal contractors are required to conduct active outreach to find veterans, going far beyond posting their internet listings.  Listed are persons and organizations that Federal contractors are directed to partner with to ensure appropriate outreach for eligible veterans.

  • The Local Veterans’ Employment Representative in the local employment service office nearest the contractor’s establishment;
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office nearest the contractor’s establishment;
  • The veterans’ counselors and coordinators (Vet-Reps) on college campuses;
  • The service officers of the national veterans’ groups active in the area of the contractor’s establishment; and
  • Local veterans’ groups and veterans’ service centers near the contractor’s establishment.

Based upon dialogue with Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives (LVERs), veterans, and other organizations across the country, The American Legion found that Federal contractors have not consistently enlisted the assistance and support of the above mentioned persons and organizations in recruiting, and developing on-the-job training opportunities for qualified disabled veterans recently separated veterans, other protected veterans, and Armed Forces service medal veterans, to fulfill its commitment to provide meaningful employment opportunities to such veterans. 

The American Legion recommends that a Vets-100 report should no longer be filed electronically, because it goes around the law’s intent of bringing employers and the One-Stop Career Centers together to discuss and develop employment opportunities for veterans.  The American Legion also recommends Vets-100 be amended to measure direct compliance with OFCCP regulations.  Additionally, The American Legion recommends that a Federal Contractor Veterans Employment Program be created and placed under the direction of the DOL’s Veterans and Employment Training Service (DOL-VETS), so this program can receive proper oversight, as well as input and guidance from stakeholders.  It is vital that eligible veterans receive a fair and proportionate amount of employment from Federal contractors so these veterans can build and maintain a good quality-of-life, while they contribute to the United States economy.


Madame Chairwoman, Ranking Member Boozman and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for the opportunity to present the American Legion’s views on Federal Contractor Compliance.

According to the Department of Labor nearly one in four American workers is employed by a company that receives taxpayer dollars for contracted work. That is more than 200,000 companies with contracts totaling over $700 billion. The Federal Government must continue to improve its efforts to leverage this contracting activity to require potential contractors to increase veterans hiring, thereby improving the employment situation of veterans.

The Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program (OFCCP) is responsible for ensuring that employers comply with nondiscrimination and affirmative action laws and regulations when doing business with the Federal Government.  The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA), as amended, 38 U.S.C. 4212, States that covered contracts entered into by any department or agency for the procurement of personal property and non-personal services (including construction) for the United States, shall contain a provision requiring that the party contracting with the United States shall take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified special disabled veterans, veterans of the Vietnam era and any other veterans who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized. 

VEVRAA also requires Federal contractors and subcontractors covered by the Act’s affirmative action provisions to report (VETS-100 report) annually to the Secretary of Labor the number of employees in their workforces, by job category and hiring location, who are qualified covered veterans (38 U.S.C. 4212(d)). VEVRAA also requires Federal contractors and subcontractors to report the number of new hires during the reporting period who are qualified covered veterans. The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) has issued regulations found at 41 CFR Parts 61-250 and 61-300 to implement the reporting requirements under VEVRAA.

Many Local Veterans Employment Representatives (LVERs), Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOPs) Specialists, State veterans’ staff, and veterans’ advocates believe non-compliance with the filing of the VETS-100 is rampant since there is little if any consequence to non-compliance in the program.  The American Legion recommends that VETS-100 reports should no longer be filed electronically, because it goes around the law’s intent of bringing employers and the One-Stop Career Centers together to discuss and develop employment opportunities for veterans.  The American Legion also recommends VETS-100 be amended to measure direct compliance with OFCCP regulations.  Listed are two suggestions in relation to this issue:

  • The VETS-100 should require the signature of a LVER to ensure that businesses are performing their required outreach at least once a year.
  • The completed VETS-100 submitted to the LVER for signature should have the name, signature, title, and phone number of the required affirmative action officer so the LVER has the optimal company contact information for veterans.

In the Federal Register of August 8, 2007, OFCCP significantly expanded the responsibilities of Federal contractors concerning their affirmative action plan for veterans.  The Federal Register noted that Federal contractors are required to conduct active outreach to find veterans, going far beyond posting their internet listings.  Listed are persons and organizations that Federal contractors are directed to partner with to ensure appropriate outreach for eligible veterans, to include:

  • The Local Veterans’ Employment Representative in the local employment service office nearest the contractor’s establishment;
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office nearest the contractor’s establishment;
  • The veterans’ counselors and coordinators (Vet-Reps) on college campuses;
  • The service officers of the national veterans’ groups active in the area of the contractor’s establishment; and
  • Local veterans’ groups and veterans’ service centers near the contractor’s establishment.

Based upon dialogue with Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives (LVERs), veterans, and other organizations across the country, The American Legion found that Federal contractors have not consistently enlisted the assistance and support of the above mentioned persons and organizations in recruiting, and developing on-the-job training opportunities for, qualified disabled veterans, recently separated veterans, other protected veterans, and Armed Forces service medal veterans, to fulfill its commitment to provide meaningful employment opportunities to such veterans.  In 2005, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that State workforce administrators cited lack of Federal contractor compliance with the law’s provisions as most likely to have limited veterans’ employment opportunities. Currently, Federal contractors are listing internet openings without discussion with State staff or LVERs within the One-Stop Career Centers

OFCCP has a national network of six Regional Offices, each with District and Area Offices in Major Metropolitan Centers. Based upon reports, The American Legion believes that OFCCP is understaffed and needs additional resources.  In northern Nevada, for example, compliance is monitored by the San Francisco office.  That office is operating under reduced manpower which in turn reduces their level of oversight over contract compliance. Adequate funding and staffing is essential for the proper performance of OFCCP’s duties.

The American Legion recommends that a Federal Contractor Veterans Employment Program be created and placed under the direction of the DOL’s Veterans and Employment Training Service (DOL-VETS), so this program can receive proper oversight, as well as input and guidance from stakeholders.

Veterans are undergoing tough times in the area of employment.  With the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting unemployment for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan as high as 23 percent, the employment of veterans is a top issue.  It is the duty of Federal contractors to comply with the law and employ veterans and disabled veterans.  The American Legion agrees that veterans’ employment is directly affected by non-compliance from Federal contractors.  The goal of the program is to see veterans and disabled veterans employed by Federal contractors.  In turn, when contractors are in non-compliance and do not follow the letter of the law, then veterans are not well served.  This program is designed to provide a veteran an interview, but there is no requirement to close job announcements for all except veterans or a requirement to hire a certain percentage of veterans on a given contract.

Part of the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) specialist and Local Veterans Employment Representative’s (LVER) job description is to reach out to employers and place veterans within the Federal contracting guidelines for employing veterans and disabled veterans.  The American Legion has received word from the field that DVOPs and LVER’s are in high demand and in some States there are insufficient number of DVOPs and LVER’s.  For instance, in Nevada, with their insufficient staff, there is little room in searching for priority placement, thereby leaving the veterans behind. The Federal contractor list in Nevada has a rather dated list of employers and the list is rarely updated.  The continuity of the program is compromised and does not serve as an adequate resource for veterans in their search for employment. 

The mission of the American Legion’s National Economic Commission is to take actions that affect the economic well-being of veterans, including issues relating to veterans’ employment, home loans, vocational rehabilitation, homelessness, and small business owned by veterans, especially those with service-connected disabilities.  It is vital that eligible veterans receive a fair and proportionate amount of Federal employment from Federal contractors so these veterans can build and maintain a quality-of- life, while they contribute to the United States economy.

The American Legion believes veterans should be considered and hired first by these contractors and subcontractors who receive contracts from the Federal government.  It was the veteran who volunteered to defend this nation, the veteran who continues to keep this democracy intact, and the veteran who deserves the right to participate in rebuilding America’s infrastructure and other necessary projects.

Again, thank you Madame Chairwoman, Ranking Member Boozman and Members of the Subcommittee for allowing the American Legion to present its views on this very important issue.