The Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (DOL-VETS) is currently seeking to extend approval for the current VETS-4212 form for another three years and is soliciting public comment regarding whether and to what extent the agency should make any changes to the current form. Note that the agency itself is not proposing any changes at this time, but may do so in response to public comment.
Federal contractor employers that are subject to affirmative action regulations pertaining to certain veteran categories defined by the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) are also required to annually file the VETS-4212 report consisting of summary data regarding veteran utilization and hiring activity. Although DOL-VETS administers the reporting, the requirement is enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), traditionally only by requesting a copy of the latest VETS-4212 report from contractors under audit.
The VETS-4212 report is an “information collection” subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act which, among other things, requires the administering agency to obtain approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Contractors cannot be required to respond to a covered information collection unless a valid OMB “control number” and expiration date are displayed on the collection instrument (typically a form). OMB approval is usually granted for three-year periods, after which the agency must obtain an extension. Agencies often use the (re)approval process as an opportunity to make any changes to the information collection, if necessary, but can do so at any time.
OMB approval for the current VETS-4212 form is set to expire on March 31, 2021, so DOL-VETS has plenty of time to obtain approval for its continued use. Note, however, that as long as the agency submits its approval request to OMB prior to the expiration date of the current approval period, approval is automatically extended while OMB completes its review process. At this time, DOL-VETS is seeking public input regarding whether or not the agency should include any modifications in its eventual request for review by OMB. That request has not yet been submitted.
According to the notice in the Federal Register, DOL-VETS is soliciting comments generally, but is particularly interested in comments that:
- Evaluate whether the report is necessary, including whether the information has practical utility;
- Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s burden estimate;
- Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and
- Minimize the burden on those who are required to respond.
In a somewhat unusual and so far unexplained move, DOL-VETS appears to only be accepting comments by mail, email, or fax. It is unclear why the agency is not using the federal government’s online portal at www.regulations.gov. Submitted comments will be available for public inspection at the DOL-VETS home office in Washington, D.C., but it does not appear that comments will be posted at regulations.gov, which has been the usual practice for a number of years now.
Comments are due by January 14, 2021. BCGi does not intend to file comments at this time. If you have questions about this information collection or any EEO/AA requirements, contact us at email@example.com.