If your organization adopts the national percentage as the annual protected veteran benchmark, and your AAP start date is on or after March 31, you should use the new 5.6% figure.
Although the OFCCP’s guidance here has never been perfectly clear, the agency expects contractors to adopt the “current” percentage for veteran hiring benchmark purposes as of the AAP start date. If the agency reports a lowering (or raising) of the national percentage during the course of a contractor’s AAP cycle, the OFCCP does not expect contractors to change the benchmark adopted at the start of the AAP year. However, the OFCCP’s regulations do not actually prohibit that.
So, if your AAP cycle started before March 31, the OFCCP would expect you to have adopted the percentage that was “current” at the start of your cycle, 5.7%, and to maintain that benchmark until the start of your next AAP cycle, despite the fact that during the year the percentage dropped 0.1%. For a more detailed discussion of the protected veteran hiring benchmark, see the free BCGi encyclopedia article on Section 503 and VEVRAA Affirmative Action Program Requirements.