An OFCCP audit is an experience that few Affirmative Action compliance practitioners enjoy. It’s an event that can’t be avoided (unless you are very lucky); and therefore, it should be anticipated. The worst mistake you can make is not being prepared at all.
However, being prepared means more than just making your affirmative action plans (AAP) available by establishment. Some Federal contractors who prepare their own plans internally and some AAP vendors, have been known to cut corners in preparing their plans and only do the “real” work, that ensures plan accuracy, if a location is audited.
Although this quick-and-dirty approach is less costly up front, it is a risky strategy that can easily turn into a tailspin and even cost your company more money in the long term. Because once you get that dreaded Scheduling Letter, you have only 30 days from the date of receipt to collect, organize, and analyze all audit components for an on-time submission.
Failure to do so in a timely manner places your organization at risk of further scrutiny, which can lead to risk of an OFCCP-imposed penalty or remedy to any negative findings.
So here are a few strategies we recommend as best practices when preparing your AAPs to be fully prepared for an audit and come out of it fully compliant and out of harms way with the OFCCP.
Prepare Your Data
It sounds simplistic, but the roadmap and activities to be fully prepared to manage an audit are already laid out for you in the regulations and Federal Contractors Compliance Manual (FCCM). And it all starts with data.
Employee data fields, including race, gender, disability status, census code, location, supervisor, job title, and EEO categories, all affect the calculations set forth in the AAP. If data fields are inaccurate, incomplete or inconsistent, they qualify as bad data and can affect the calculations defined in the AAP. This, in turn, limits your visibility as to how you are performing relative to recruiting, hiring, promoting and developing employees and can mask reasons for why employees are leaving the organization.
Accurate data is critical to creating a usable incumbency vs. availability analysis. It will accurately check for underutilization of minorities and females and will yield meaningful and attainable goals that your managers will accept—gaining you buy-in into your program. Make sure that you distribute your plan to key stakeholders and that they are aware of their responsibilities for contributing toward your goals.
Remember…what gets measured, gets done. That translates to preparing periodic monitoring analyses of your plans and progress to goals.
Track, Measure, and Communicate Your Progress
A best practice is to monitor your goals on a quarterly basis. Once again, make sure your data is accurate. Communicate progress toward goals with your managers and research any adverse impact indicators for your hiring, promotion, and termination selections during the year. Research and document the business justifications for any flagged areas.
Analyze Your Pay Practices
Lastly, analyze your pay practices. Invest the time to identify any areas that indicate differences in pay between women/men and minorities/non-minorities. Determine the root cause for these differences, prepare your documentation to explain the differences, and if necessary, take corrective action. These activities significantly raise your level of preparedness and allow you to adjust your course of action prior to an audit.
At the end of the day, the best practice in managing an OFCCP audit is to be well prepared in advance. That means
- Plans are prepared based on good data and goals are communicated to key stakeholders
- You periodically track progress against your goals
- You analyze your pay practices.
With these basic recommendations, you’ll be fully prepared to submit your plan and accompanying documentation, respond to any inquiries, and for an audit.