The Price of a Federal Contract

by Secretary Hilda Solis on November 22, 2011 · 5 comments

“Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing.”

Those are President Obama’s words, but they could easily have been said by me – or anybody who recognizes the importance of transparency to good government.

Transparency means clarity, accountability and open communication, and it is an essential piece of democratic governance, which is why I’m so pleased by a Nov. 14 court ruling ordering a federal contractor to make its compensation data available to the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

As part of a regular compliance review, OFCCP requested basic pay data from United Space Alliance, a spaceflight operations company with $8 billion in NASA contracts. While the company provided some information at the beginning of the investigation, it refused to provide additional records OFCCP needed to complete the review.

When businesses sign contracts with the federal government, they agree to follow certain rules. For example, they agree to pay their employees equally, regardless of their sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran.

Taxpayers should have confidence that their dollars are never being used to discriminate. That may sound obvious, but discrimination happens, and when it does, OFCCP uses every tool it has to correct the problem and ensure that victims are compensated. As OFCCP Director Pat Shiu has said, “Workplace discrimination is not universal, but it is far too common – and we can’t close the pay gap unless we get access to the information we need to conduct full and fair investigations.”

So how do we know which companies are playing by the rules and which are not? We conduct reviews of company records – records employers agree to keep and share with us when they sign their contracts. Instead of supplying this information, United Space contested OFCCP’s request for its pay data. And when the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges told them to turn over the information or risk losing their contracts altogether, United Space appealed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

In his decision, Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled in favor of OFCCP on all issues, rejected all of United Space’s major arguments, and ordered the contractor to provide the requested information by Nov. 28. Lamberth’s ruling explains the decision clearly: “Submission to such lawful investigations is the price of working as a federal contractor.”

In other words, the price of a federal contract is transparency.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gregg November 22, 2011 at 5:26 pm

What about the tax payers dollars used against me by my employer fireing me for protected activity Ms Solis?They recived tax payers dollars with fedreal construction jobs that had there machines on.We provided DOL complete company documentation of what was going on and how we we retaliated against for protected activity.
This was clear discrimination against us Ms Solis.
With the documentation we provided if someone were killed or injured someone would have gone to prison.So lets have a little transparency here Ms Solis.
Lets see who plays by the rules.
Gregg S
PROUD NAVY DAD

2 Gregg November 23, 2011 at 9:03 am

Transparency is a great thing for our government and how they hold contractors resposible if they use tax payer dollars to discriminat against employees. That reminds me of how a coworker contacted me 15 months after i was terminated for protected activity.This coworked stated that he confronted management about how they were not OSHA complient with there safety inspections on the machines,Management responded with this “You don’t want to go there look what happened to gregg”..Thats what pat shiu was refering to in the article above.It’s really great how our government is holding them accountable for these actions.Yes my employer has recived tax payer dollars from federal construction projects.
Gregg S

3 Gregg December 10, 2011 at 10:36 am

The second coworker who came forward in my whistleblower case met the OSHA investigator had given this investigator the companys inspection stickers that he removed from the employers machines that show how they were not being properly inspected.These dated inspection stickers came off machines that were on a new IRS construction site.The OSHA 11(c) investigator even showed them to me at the meeting i had with him.The second coworker even stated to this 11 (c) investigator that those machines should never have been on that IRS construction site.
So Ms Shui do you think someone is not playing by the rules here?
Ms Shui this employer discriminated against us fo blowing the whistle,
Will you please help us?
We did nothing wrong.

4 Current Postage Rates December 11, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Transparency is always a good thing, especially when it comes to federal contracting.

5 Gregg December 15, 2011 at 10:49 am

How it it Ms Solis that my former employer who has equipment on federal job sites kept seperate documentation that was ment for management only eyes in case there was an accident just like the way UBB mine did and i gave copies of this to DOL/OSHA and nothing was done?
How is it that we were warned by our employer when OSHA was in the area and we had to cover up things just in case OSHA stoped in and we provided DOL/OSHA this and nothing was done?Sounds just like how UBB mine workers were warned that DOL/MSHA was coming in right Ms Solis?.
How is it DOL/OSHA was given more information from a current employee that this employer was still doing this almot two years after my blowing the whistle and nothing was done?
Why did DOL only take my employer’s position that they claimed they did not know it was me that contacted DOL/OSHA even when told by coworkers to OSHA investigators that this employer knew i was the one who contacted OSHA?
These coworkers stated they were intimidated in what to say to OSHA about me when questioned by OSHA and this info given to DOL/OSHA.The workers were intimidated by management at UBB mine like it’s stated in DOL/MSHA investigation right Ms Solis?
I even had coworkes tell me that they were told not to talk to me because of me contacting DOL/OSHA and this was time lined and given to DOL/OSHA but DOL/OSHA still only took the employer’s position right Ms Solis?
Can someone at DOL tell me who is playing by the rules here or does DOL make up the rules as they go along?

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