As previously reported, the Trump Administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 includes a plan to merge the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) into the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Pragmatically, this would add the OFCCP’s broad responsibilities to an already overburdened EEOC, without providing the EEOC any additional funding to accomplish its newly added workload.
On June 7, 2017, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta testified at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing in support of the proposal. The Labor Secretary touted the merger as a “commonsense change” that “combines two civil rights agencies that already work together closely.” The merger, according to Secretary Acosta would achieve a cost saving without reducing enforcement.
President Trump’s proposal appears to stem from a long standing recommendation by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, to eliminate the OFCCP on the ground that its function has become redundant. The proposal is also defended as part of President Trump’s goal – made explicit in the Executive Order issued on March 13, 2017 – to improve the efficiency of the executive branch by eliminating unnecessary agencies and components of agencies, and merging agency functions as necessary.
However, for the moment, the proposal appears unlikely to gain traction. As pointed out at today’s hearing by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif), the NAACP and the US Chamber of Commerce – two entities that rarely agree with each other – both oppose the proposal. Indeed, seventy three civil rights groups, including the NAACP, sent a letter to Congress and to Secretary Acosta condemning the measure. And, as Secretary Acosta recognized at today’s hearing, any merger would require separate legislation to streamline the different functions of the two agencies.
We will continue to monitor developments on this issue.