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McCaskill decries poor oversight of contractors’ hiring of veterans

Jun. 5, 2012 - 06:27PM   |  
By SARAH CHACKO   |   Comments

The government has failed to ensure federal contractors hire veterans as required by law, Sen. Claire McCaskill, chairwoman of the Senate Contracting Oversight Subcommittee, said Tuesday.

Companies with at least $100,000 in government contracts are required to report their veteran hiring and employment numbers to the Labor Department, and those with 50 or more employees are required to develop affirmative action plans for hiring vets.

Two offices within the Labor Department track the information but have not used it to hold contractors accountable, said McCaskill, D-Mo. The Veterans Employment and Training office collects the information but does not review it, and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has done few compliance audits, McCaskill said.

“Frankly, if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing, I don’t think anyone over there would ever know it,” McCaskill said.

Unemployment among veterans is higher than the national average: 13 percent among veterans who have served on active duty since September 2001 compared with the national of 8 percent, according to figures released by the Labor Department last week.

The Labor Department’s information on contractors’ hiring practices is incomplete and inaccurate, McCaskill said.

The department provided the subcommittee with contractor reports from 2009 and 2010, the most recent data electronically available, she said. The data, for example, did not include figures from Booz Allen Hamilton and ManTech International — which combined received about $6 billion in government contracts last year — even though the companies filed the required reports, McCaskill said. Also, figures for Compass Group, a food service management contractor, showed that the company hired four times more veterans than they reported in new hires overall.

Labor Department officials were not invited to testify before the committee, but McCaskill said she intends to follow up.

Last year, OFCCP proposed changes to strengthen the affirmative action regulations. Under the proposed changes, contractors would be required to establish annual veteran hiring benchmarks, report how many veterans were referred by state employment services and how many applied for positions with the contractor, and engage in at least three outreach and recruitment efforts.

OFCCP officials have said they plan to issue final rule changes this year.

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