OFCCP’s Ombuds Service Now Open For Business
On May 6, 2020, OFCCP announced that its Ombuds Service is now available to the contractor community. The agency initially announced its plan to create an Ombuds Service in the fall of 2018 as part of its overall initiative to increase efficiency and transparency. In announcing the official launch, OFCCP stated the service “delivers an additional layer of certainty, efficiency, recognition, and transparency while preserving the typical principles of ombuds work.” As described by OFCCP, “[t]he ombuds is an independent and neutral public official with the authority to both receive and informally address concerns and complaints about OFCCP policies, procedures, or actions.”
OFCCP has devoted an entire section of its website to the Ombuds Service. On this dedicated website, stakeholders can find frequently asked questions regarding the Ombuds Service, the Ombuds Service Protocol, and an Ombuds Service Referral Form.
In this latest announcement, the agency states that the “architect and director of the program, Ombudsman Marcus Stergio welcomes referrals.” The announcement also contains a link to Ombudsman Stergio’s contact information and asks stakeholders to “consider this an invitation to call or email him.” The Ombuds Service website provides that “every effort is made to respond to inquiries within one business day.”
The Ombuds Service provides contractors with a forum to bring concerns about the agency and a process by which to address those concerns. While the concept is commendable, time will tell whether the service will provide an effective method for contractors to raise and obtain resolution of legitimate concerns regarding their treatment by OFCCP.