Starting in February 2022, federal contractors who are required to develop and maintain a written Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) will now need to certify their compliance through the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) new Affirmative Action Program Verification Interface (AAP-VI), referred to as the “Contractor Portal.”
In general terms, AAPs describe how contractors provide equal employment opportunities and generally support the advancement of their employees regardless of gender, race, disability, or veteran status. Federal regulations require contractors that meet certain employee and contract-value thresholds to create and maintain written AAPs within 120 days of entering into a federal contract, and that they review their AAP annually. Currently, contractors certify whether they have developed an AAP via the Representations and Certifications section of their SAM.gov registration. Contractors have only needed to produce their AAPs during an OFCCP audit.
A 2016 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found the OFCCP had no way to collect and monitor contractors’ compliance with their AAP obligation. The Contractor Portal is a result of this GAO report and was started by the Trump administration based on the GAO’s recommendation.
OFCCP plans to use the Contractor Portal as an additional resource for ensuring covered contractors are developing and maintaining AAPs for each of their covered establishments or functional units, and for scheduling compliance reviews. Contractors who fail to certify and those who certify they are not in compliance are more likely to be scheduled for a full compliance review and/or be subject to enforcement actions.
Although few concrete details are available, the OFCCP has created a website with published responses to Frequently Asked Questions about the Contractor Portal. It can be accessed here.
Registration for access to the Contractor Portal begins Feb. 1, 2022. If OFCCP has contact information for a contractor, it will send an email inviting the contractor to register for the Contractor Portal. To register, the contractor will need their EIN number, headquarter/company number, and establishment/unit number from their EEO-1 Reports.
On March 31, 2022, contractors can start certifying they have developed and maintained an AAP(s). Certifications must be completed by June 30, 2022, so contractors that are required to prepare an AAP need to make sure they do so before this deadline.