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Affirmative Action Planning

Get the ‘Big Picture’ about Regulations and Compliance


What is an AAP?

As a condition of doing business with the U.S. Federal Government, companies meeting certain contract and employment levels must prepare, in accordance with U.S. federal regulations, an Affirmative Action Program (AAP).

Fundamentally, an Affirmative Action Program is a management tool to ensure equal employment opportunity (EEO).

A quick overview of an AAP based on the U.S. federal regulations is as follows:

  • Affirmative action programs contain a number of quantitative analyses designed to evaluate the composition of a contractor's workforce as compared to the composition of the relevant labor pools.
  • Affirmative action programs include action-oriented programs. If women and minorities are not being employed at an expected rate given their availability in the relevant labor pool, the contractor's affirmative action program will includes specific practical steps designed to address this underutilization.
  • Effective affirmative action programs also include internal auditing and reporting systems as a means of measuring the contractor's progress toward achieving the workforce that would be expected in the absence of discrimination.

In short, an AAP Includes the policies, practices and procedures that a U.S. federal contractor implements to ensure that all qualified applicants and employees receive an equal opportunity for recruitment, selection, advancement, and every other term and privilege associated with employment.

AAPs must be developed for:

Criteria Requiring an AAP

U.S. federal contractors and subcontractors must create an AAP as a condition of doing business with the U.S. Government. Some organizations for internal, political or other reasons may choose to produce a voluntary AAP.

If the contractor:

  • Has a contract of at least $50,000 or more
  • Has Government bills of lading which in any 12 month period total $50,000 or more
  • Serves as a depository of Government funds in any amount
  • Is a financial institution, which is an issuing and paying agent for U.S. Savings bonds or notes in any amount

Then the contractor must develop and maintain AAPs for all establishments (locations) with 50 or more employees (total workforce) according to the U.S. Federal Government's criteria (Per41 CFR 60-1.40);

This definition of a contractor would include, for example, defense contractors and companies leasing buildings to the government, banks, hospitals/medical centers, and universities.

Regulations Government AAPs

Executive Order 11246 was signed into law in 1965 and forms the basis for the regulations governing the preparation of the AAP. A copy of the AAP regulation can be accessed at www.dol.gov.

The enforcement agency, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), has issued a Compliance Manual for use by their staff.

Enforcing Agency

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), an agency in the U.S. Department of Labor, is primarily responsible for conducting compliance evaluations of contractors' AAPs.

The OFCCP has approximately 48 local offices, known as District or Area offices, under the direction of six regional offices throughout the country. Personnel in these offices, usually compliance officers, are responsible for conducting compliance evaluations. Although each government contractor must prepare and update their AAP annually, these documents are not automatically submitted to the government. Instead, the OFCCP selects contractors for compliance evaluations (much like the Internal Revenue Service conducting audits) and sends scheduling letters informing the contractors that they have been selected.

The scheduling letter may request a copy of the written AAP and other data which is then reviewed at the OFCCP office as part of a desk audit and which can be followed by an on-site review at the contractor's facility. There are also other types of evaluations which can be used by the OFFCP to review contractor compliance with the AAP regulations.

Additionally, Contractors are required on an annual basis to file EEO-1 and VETS-4212 reports.