The federal budget proposed by the Trump Administration would merge the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs into the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Testifying before Congress in June, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said the merger would represent a “commonsense change” that “combines two civil rights agencies that already work together closely.”
He also said the merger would result in cost savings without reducing enforcement capabilities.
Part of the U.S. Department of Labor, OFCCP is responsible for making sure that employers doing business with the federal government comply with nondiscrimination rules and laws. Federal contractors are estimated to make up as much as 20% of all employers in the United States.
In the later years of the Obama administration, OFCCP was responsible for enforcing the President’s executive orders imposing on federal contractors many of the same requirements that Congress had refused to impose on employers in general, such as protections for gay employees (which Trump reaffirmed since taking office).
Under Trump’s proposal, the OFCCP’s transfer to the EEOC will encompass every aspect of the federal contractor agency’s operations, including compliance evaluations and assistance.
The merger idea was first floated by the Heritage Foundation and seems to make sense because both agencies’ responsibilities overlap.
However, the proposal has run into near universal opposition from both civil rights and employer groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They note that the two agencies have different missions, deal with different employer populations, and sometimes different laws.
One concern is that the merged entity would combine the worst aspects of both by taking the broadest powers from the EEOC and from the OFCCP and combining them in a single agency.