The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has begun sending out its next wave of Corporate Scheduling Announcement Letters, notifying as many as 2,000 federal contractors and subcontractors of possible upcoming compliance evaluations. But this time around, the OFCCP is switching things up a bit.

CSALs are courtesy notifications to companies that provide advance notice of the locations that likely will be slated for OFCCP audit during its current fiscal year, ending Sept. 30. The list is generated from OFCCP's Federal Contractor Selection System.

After a company receives a “scheduling letter,” which are used to notify a particular contractor establishment that it has been scheduled for a compliance evaluation, it must then respond within 30 days by submitting its affirmative action plan to OFCCP.

As of May 2, however, the OFCCP appears to be moving away from its traditional practice of sending a single CSAL to corporate headquarters with a list of potential locations that could be slated for audit and is, instead, sending individual letters directly to specific establishments that may be subject to a compliance evaluation.

A client alert published by law firm Jackson Lewis provides a sample of an old audit letter (see here) versus a new audit letter (see here).

Due to the OFCCP's change in procedure, “contractors should, therefore, be diligent in alerting individual establishments to be on the lookout for any such letters and to immediately forward them to corporate headquarters,” Regina Grattan, a member of the labor and employment department and OFCCP and affirmative action compliance team with law firm Seyfarth Shaw, said in a client alert.

According to Jackson Lewis, the OFCCP over the last two years has become “more thorough in its audits while being noticeably less willing to extend the deadlines to submit information,” the client alert stated.

During her keynote address at the 2012 Southwest and Rocky Mountain Region Industry Liaison Group Conference held in San Antonio, Texas last month, OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu said OFCCP would not consider extending the time for response to the new scheduling letter. Shiu further noted during her keynote that contractors should be prepared regardless of whether they receive a scheduling letter.

The Jackson Lewis client alert further stressed that OFCCP in its last fiscal year dramatically increased the number of violations issued, resulting in conciliation agreements in almost 25 percent of all audits. Conciliation agreements are binding written agreement between a contractor and OFCCP that details specific contractor commitments to resolve violations.

“Therefore,” the Jackson Lewis alert advised, “it is imperative employers take advantage of any advance notice and start preparations for each location slated for audit to ensure they are prepared when OFCCP comes knocking.”