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Feb. 21 --The Labor Department's Veterans' Employment and Training Service plans to update its regulations implementing federal contractor reporting requirements under the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act, according to a notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Feb. 24 Federal Register (79 Fed. Reg. 10,063).
VETS's current rules (41 C.F.R. parts 61-250 and 61-300) require certain federal contractors and subcontractors to submit to it annual reports known as the VETS-100 and VETS-100A that include the total number of employees and new hires who fall within the scope of VEVRAA's specified categories of protected veterans, as well as the job categories listed on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's EEO-1 Survey.
In its NPRM (RIN 1293-AA20), the agency proposes to require contractors to report their veterans' information “in the aggregate,” as opposed to separately providing the number of employees in each protected VEVRAA and EEO-1 job category.
VETS said it also plans to rescind “obsolete” rules at 41 C.F.R. part 61-250 governing VETS-100 reporting requirements for employers with government contracts established before Dec. 1, 2003.
That change, if finalized, would make VETS's rules consistent with soon-to-be-effective regulations issued by the DOL's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (31 HRR 1018, 9/30/13), which enforces VEVRAA's affirmative action and nondiscrimination requirements. The OFCCP monitors federal contractors' compliance with the VETS reporting requirements.
Under VETS's proposed revisions to 41 C.F.R. part 61-300, employers with contracts entered or modified after Dec. 1, 2003, and valued above $100,000 would continue to file annual veterans reports. However, VETS seeks to change the name of the report from the VETS-100A to the VETS-4212.
VETS estimated that approximately 15,000 federal contractors would annually submit VETS-4212 reports for an average of 21 establishments, meaning that the agency expects to receive about 315,000 submissions each year.
The agency's current VETS-100 reporting rules at 41 C.F.R. part 61-250 apply to employers with federal contracts or subcontracts worth more than $25,000 and entered into before Dec. 1, 2003.
They identify four categories of veterans protected by VEVRAA: special disabled veterans, veterans of the Vietnam era, recently separated veterans within the one-year period following discharge or release and “other protected” veterans.
For federal contracts entered into or modified after Dec. 1, 2003, the 2002 Jobs for Veterans Act raised the VEVRAA contract threshold to $100,000 from $25,000, and modified the categories of protected veterans.
The new categories include: all disabled veterans with service-connected disabilities, Armed Forces service medal veterans, recently separated veterans within the three-year period following their date of discharge or release, and “other protected” veterans.
VETS updated its reporting rules in 2008 to implement the Jobs for Veterans Act (26 HRR 570, 5/26/08), and codified the changes at 41 C.F.R. part 61-300.
In its proposed rulemaking, VETS said the regulations at part 61-250 “have become obsolete.” The agency said it “does not believe any contracts subject to the part 61-250 regulations exist today because the Federal Acquisition Regulations generally limit the length of government contracts to a maximum period of five years.”
Absent the existence of a “special excepted” contract, it said agreements that were covered exclusively by part 61-250 “have already expired or will have expired by the time the final rule rescinding the regulations becomes effective.”
Meanwhile, any federal contract entered or modified after Dec. 31, 2003, would continue to be governed by the reporting requirements of part 61-300.
On a related note, VETS said it is proposing to update various definitions within its rules in light of the planned rescission. For example, the term “other protected veteran” would be renamed “active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran.”
The term “protected veteran,” which would serve as a “catchall” for veterans in any category protected by VEVRAA, also would be introduced, according to the VETS proposal.
In explaining its proposal for aggregate reporting, VETS said contractors currently provide information on the number of employees and new hires in each protected VEVRAA category rather than the total number of workers protected by the law.
As such, an employee “who is a disabled veteran and an Armed Forces service medal veteran would be counted in each category,” the agency said.
“[B]ecause employees may be counted in more than one veteran category it is not possible for the Government to calculate the total number of protected veterans employed or newly hired in the contractor's workforce based on the data submitted in the existing VETS-100 and VETS-100A Reports,” it said.
VETS said it believes it would be “preferable” for contractors to report the total number of protected veterans employed and hired for several reasons.
For instance, the agency said aggregate reporting would “better assist” contractors in complying with affirmative action obligations enforced by the OFCCP, which requires contractors to measure the effectiveness of their veterans outreach, recruitment and hiring efforts.
“VETS believes that it would be most appropriate for Federal contractors to use data showing the total number of protected veterans employed and newly hired during the reporting period to monitor the success of their recruitment and outreach efforts to attract protected veterans,” it said.
The agency said aggregate reporting also may help improve employee privacy and make its own annual reports to Congress “more meaningful.”
“If data on the total number of protected veterans employed and newly hired by Federal contractors were available, it would be feasible to include in the annual report cross-year comparisons of Federal contractors' employment and hiring of protected veterans,” VETS said. “Information on the total number of protected veterans employed in Federal contractor workforces from year to year would show trends in their employment of protected veterans, and analyses of those trends could be used to assess the extent to which Federal contractors are providing employment opportunities to protected veterans.”
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Text of the notice of proposed rulemaking is available at http://op.bna.com/dlrcases.nsf/r?Open=jaca-9gjqke.
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