On May 23, 2017, the Department of Labor released its budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018). The budget contains several cost-cutting measures that reflect the new priorities of the Trump administration.
A notable aspect of the proposed budget is a request to merge the EEOC and OFCCP. The proposal aims for “full integration” of the two agencies by the end of FY 2018. To begin that transition, the proposal suggests sizable drops in the OFCCP’s current funding and staffing. The OFCCP’s budget is proposed to drop from $105,275,000 to $88,000,000 (a reduction of $17.3 million). The headcount is proposed to drop nearly 25%, from 571 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees to 440.
The DOL says consolidating the two agencies will: ensure a seamless sharing of expertise and enforcement data, increase operational efficiencies, improve customer service, and expand compliance assistance to employers.
Federal contractors may welcome this change, as the OFCCP has subjected them to increasingly burdensome requirements and reviews in recent years. But, there is no guarantee that would lessen under the combined entity. Also, the EEOC has subpoena authority, which the OFCCP does not, and that could subject contractors to a new level of aggressive data collection.
Employee rights advocates, on the other hand, warn that EEO and diversity in employment will suffer. They maintain that both agencies are crucial to the government’s mission of workplace equality.
Some say such integration will eliminate redundancies. But, those familiar with the EEOC and OFCCP know they have very different regulations, enforcement approaches, and sources of legal authority.
Besides the merger with the EEOC, the proposed budget also lists pay discrimination as a top priority for the OFCCP. In particular, the OFCCP will continue its focus on systemic pay investigations.
This is not the first discussion of eliminating the OFCCP, but no such suggestion has been successful to date. And, this is merely a proposed budget, so the EEOC/OFCCP merger may or may not come to fruition. Time will tell.