You’ve been asked to submit a bevy of audit-related information by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). You diligently and methodically prepare your submission. After sending it in, you wait. And wait. Suddenly, you may feel like you’re waiting longer than expected.
How long is too long? Should you assume your role in the audit follow-up process is wrapping up if you don’t get a rapid response? Unfortunately, that’s not how an OFCCP audit works.
Audits don’t magically disappear, even if they seem to have faded into the background. Though the OFCCP has taken strides to become more responsive, delays can happen. Even if you don’t receive immediate responses to your initial audit submission, you shouldn’t assume that you won’t be asked for further materials.
Quite the contrary. If it takes a month or longer for a compliance officer to make contact, something is probably happening. For instance, there are many audit requirements that haven’t been made part of the standard scheduling letter that outlines what you should expect to submit. Consequently, your compliance officer may be spending time to figure out what’s missing.
A good example of this is the job group analysis.The OFCCP would prefer to have individual racial and ethnic breakouts, but it hasn’t added those specifications to the regulations. As a result, your compliance officer may compel you to provide the underlying data necessary to flesh out the report — and may ask for other follow-up items.
How can you stay in control of this experience as much as possible? Here are a few steps you can take to ensure you’re making smart, objective decisions during the post-audit phase:
1. Submit everything you’re asked to provide.
Take your audit seriously. Make sure you hold back nothing that you’re required to submit. Sending exactly what’s needed to the compliance officer will lessen your odds of receiving emails asking for missing information or clarifications.
2. Look at the audit from the compliance officer’s perspective.
Contractors should find and use the Standard Compliance Evaluation Report (SCER) located in the Federal Contract Compliance Manual. Compliance officers use the SCER to complete their audits. As you review it, you’ll better understand how an officer will likely view your submission. Remember: Compliance officers are tasked with determining compliance for businesses they know little to nothing about. Any effort to help them complete their work efficiently will always be appreciated.
3. Anticipate that you’ll be asked for more information.
It’s not unusual to receive a flurry of emails requesting additional documents, data, and information related to potential problems. Respond to these communications in a timely fashion, and monitor your email to avoid missing any requests. This should ensure you don’t unintentionally frustrate the compliance officer or miss any deadlines.
4. Touch base after 30 days.
Has it been at least four weeks since you last heard from your compliance officer? Send a quick email. Checking in won’t prompt the DOL to dig deeper into your audit. Instead, it may illuminate the cause of the delay.
For instance, you could discover that the compliance officer is awaiting statistical analysis data or a response from the Office of the Solicitor. Though it can be stressful to realize you’re being scrutinized for potential violations, knowing early is still preferable.
5. Proceed with confidence.
You have ready answers. You’ve met quick deadlines. Let this put your mind at ease. Projecting a strong compliance posture presents an air of calm and self-assuredness. Sometimes, compliance officers test contractors to see whether they drag their feet or scramble. Approaching the audit with confidence buoyed by transparency will set you apart.
An audit doesn’t have to end in a fine or violation finding. If your compliance officer begins to switch from pointed communications to innocuous email requests, they might be signaling that they’re preparing to close your audit file. Even if that’s not the case, it’s never a bad idea to be attentive, proactive, and composed throughout the audit follow-up process.