For months, the federal contractor community has been waiting for OFCCP to release the new Technical Assistance Guide (TAG) for higher education institutions. While OFCCP continues to finalize the TAG, in the meantime, it has released a new Directive that provides guidance on student workers as well as an FAQ on campus-like settings and rolled out a new HBCU page.
Directive 2019-05, Contractors’ Obligations Regarding Students in Working Relationships with Educational Institutions, clarifies OFCCP's position that it will focus its compliance evaluation efforts on non-student employees. The directive reiterates similar guidance the agency gave in the FAQ it released in early August. For a long time now, this issue has been a source of frustration among higher education federal contractors: should student employees such as work-study employees, resident assistants, teaching assistants, and research assistants, be included in a university's Affirmative Action Plan (AAP)? As you might expect, having to include student employees in one's AAP is rife with challenges. Not only are they transient by nature, the selection process for such positions is influenced by other factors such as academic focus, financial need, among others. Thus, this guidance is a welcome development.
The OFCCP also released a new FAQ that addresses higher education institutions, though not exclusively. In its latest FAQ, Developing and Maintaining Establishment-Based Affirmative Action Programs for Campus-Like Settings, OFCCP defines what it considers an "establishment" and how contractors with multiple buildings in a "campus-like" setting may have one AAP that covers multiple buildings, provided that they meet the factors laid out in the FAQ, such as whether recruitment, hiring, compensation, and other personnel decisions are consolidated across the multiple buildings, and if they recruit from the same labor market. This is certainly applicable for universities, but also for hospitals and technology companies, among others.
In keeping with its commitment to provide more technical assistance and resources, OFCCP also rolled out a new page to help contractors recruit from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The HBCU page contains outreach resources, best practices, including D&I program samples from leading companies, contact information for various STEM programs across the country, conference and networking opportunities, as well as information on the White House HBCU Initiative.