The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has announced an expansion of the agencies Mega Construction Project (MCP) Program. The program was built to ensure federal construction subcontractors and contractors receiving government funding to construct highways, buildings, and other government funded projects, provide equal employment opportunities in the construction industry to potential workers regardless of their color, race, gender identity, sex, national orientation, sexual orientation, veteran or disability status. This will signal the first time the OFCCP has allocated agency resources both regionally and nationally, to ensure the country’s construction projects will provide equal opportunities to all construction workers. BackgroundConstruction workers are generally paid well, approximately 13% greater than the median hourly wage (OFCCP Fact Sheet), and the majority of construction workers receive health and retirement benefits. However, these coveted jobs have been a source of race and gender discrimination for over 40 years. Women, minorities, veterans and individuals with disabilities have consistently struggled with discrimination in being hired in the construction industry and have continued to push for construction jobs to open to a more diverse population.Furthermore, in cases where members of underrepresented groups are hired for construction positions, they are often faced with exposure to more dangerous working conditions, discrimination, and harassment.The Mega Construction Project ProgramThe goal of the MCP Program is to overcome barriers and increase diversity in construction. The OFCCP is focusing on a proactive approach instead of only on enforcement after a project has been completed. The OFCCP believes that the MCPs are the most effective strategy for increasing the representation of minorities, women, protected veterans and individuals with disabilities as well as achieving compliance with current OFCCP’s regulations.In order for the MCP Program to be successful in improving outreach and hiring members from underrepresented groups, the OFCCP focuses on three key components,community outreach, compliance assistance, and compliance evaluation.Looking closer at these three components, according to the OFCCP, the MCP Program provides a structure in which OFCCP:
- Conducts community outreach, regularly assembling all the stakeholders in Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Committees including: the project funding agency, subcontractors, prime contractor unions, pre–apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, community colleges, worker centers, American Job Centers, Women’s Apprenticeship Tribal Employment Rights Offices and Non–Traditional Occupations grantees, any additional community resources that can source qualified workers— to share ideas, linkages, resources, and data.
- Provides ongoing compliance assistance to the subcontractors and prime contractors on the MCP Program concerning their affirmative action obligations and nondiscrimination.
- Evaluates the subcontractors’ and prime contractor’s EEO compliance and works with the contractor to improve compliance in real time, as job opportunities become available.
The OFCCP claims MCP Programs can have an immediate effect on a contractor’s and subcontractors’ hiring and recruiting processes and aid in building a funnel of applicants that include qualified minorities, women, protected veterans and individuals with disabilities, who will then be linked with open positions in the construction industry.How the OFCCP’s Selects Mega Construction ProjectProjects selected for the MCP Program are:
- Valued at $25 million and above
- Expected to last for one or more years.
- Located in an OFCCP region.
- Reflect a mix of highway and other construction projects, confirming that OFCCP has the authority to address the inclusion of individuals with disabilities and protected veterans.
- Some projects are located nearby or on an Indian reservation, and will eligible for Indian preference.
As of August 2016, there are 35 open mega construction projects, in all six regions and across 27 district offices. The projects are worth $25 million to $5 billion and range from 1.5 to 35 years. They have an estimated combined total of nearly $29.5 billion. Additional Information and OFCCP Resources:
- Fact Sheet
- Frequently Asked Questions
- FAQs and Best Practices on Nondiscrimination in the Construction Industry
- OFCCP’s Memorandum of Understanding with GSA
- OFCCP’s Regulations Governing Construction Contractors and Subcontractors
- OFCCP Director Shiu’s blog post on the MCP Program
How should Federal Construction Contractors Prepare?As OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu stated in her blog post on the MCP Program, “Proactive outreach is far more effective than after-the-fact enforcement alone can ever be. That’s why we’re reaching out to contractors, unions, and communities where projects are taking place on the front end before ground is even broken.” Federal construction contractors should be proactive and ensure they have an affirmative action plan in place and comply with all federal contractor regulations.