Under the Bush administration, the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued guidelines for federal contractors that allowed them to conduct voluntary self-evaluations of pay policies to determine whether there were systematic problems with compensation based on race or gender. Presumably, contractors that followed these guidelines and self-corrected identified issues with pay disparities would not be subject to OFCCP enforcement actions.
On January 3, OFCCP proposed withdrawal of this voluntary standard. The agency stated that the self-auditing mechanism was little used by federal contractors, and that the agency could better rely on normal investigation tools to determine whether contractors are in compliance with pay equality rules. OFCCP claimed that the current standards interfere with the agency's ability to vigorously investigate allegations of pay discrimination by federal contractors.
This proposal is the latest in a series of similar moves by DOL seeking to reverse or deemphasize voluntary compliance and consultative services in favor of traditional administrative investigations and civil penalties. As part of its announcement OFCCP stated that it is preparing a new data collection tool to assist the agency in its investigation of contractor pay practices.