Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Civil Rights

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Annual EEO Compliance Review

About

The Minnesota Department of Transportation Office of Civil Rights conducts annual compliance reviews to ensure contractors and subcontractors performing on federal or federal-aid contracts are in compliance with Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) requirements. Mandated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), annual compliance reviews are conducted on projects throughout the state during every construction season.

These frequently asked questions (FAQs) provide some essential background information to contractors or subcontractors undergoing an annual compliance review.

Annual Compliance Review Overview

What is an annual compliance review?

An annual compliance review is the process for determining whether a contractor working on a project with federal funds is meeting EEO program requirements.

What happens during an annual compliance review?

An annual compliance review consists of a desk audit and an on-site visit:

  • Desk audit: A review of the contractor’s policies, practices, and procedures related to EEO compliance and workforce information. Depending upon the results of the initial analysis, additional information may be requested.
  • On-site visit: An on-site interview with corporate officers to review workforce information, make additional inquiries and identify areas for improvement. Brief project site interviews with prime and subcontractor employees are also conducted.

The findings of the annual compliance review are shared with the contractor in an exit conference held at the end of the on-site visit.
NOTE: Desk audits and on-site visits may be conducted independently.

What authority does MnDOT OCR have to conduct an annual compliance review?

Both federal and state law grants MnDOT OCR the authority to conduct annual compliance reviews.

Does an annual compliance review concern a project, business or both?

Both. An annual compliance review is designed to ensure that the contractor is meeting EEO program requirements as they relate to both the project and their core business structure.   
Requested participation in an annual compliance review does not suggest that a contractor has committed any wrongdoing, or is otherwise under investigation.

How is a business selected for an annual compliance review?

Federal regulations dictate that when identifying potential candidates for annual compliance reviews, priority is to be given to contractors that: 

  • Hold a high potential for employment, and promotion of people of color and women (especially in higher skilled crafts or occupations);
  • Work in areas with significant people of color and female workforces located within a reasonable recruitment area;
  • Undertake projects with special training provisions; or
  • Have been in non-compliance or were otherwise uncooperative with equal opportunity requirements in the past.

Are other government agencies involved in an annual compliance review?

While MnDOT OCR’s Contract Compliance Specialists are responsible for conducting annual compliance reviews, the FHWA, Minnesota Department of Human Rights, and/or Tribal Employment Rights Officer may participate in the process.

What role do Contract Compliance Specialists play?

Contract Compliance Specialists are state employees with experience in policies, practices and procedures relating to workforce and Equal Employment Opportunity legal requirements.
A Contract Compliance Specialist with MnDOT OCR conducts the annual compliance review, identifies deficiencies and corrective measures, and makes compliance recommendations.

What authority does MnDOT OCR use to identify deficiencies?

OCR’s authority to identify deficiencies derives from 23 C.F.R. § 230 and the Required Contract Provisions for Federal-Aid Construction Contracts (Form FHWA-1273).

Who is the primary point of contact during an annual compliance review?

The contractor should contact the Contract Compliance Specialist listed in the Notification of Compliance Review letter.

Desk Audit

What is the desk audit?

A desk audit is a review of a contractor’s policies, practices and procedures related to EEO compliance and workforce information. Depending upon the results of the initial analysis, additional information may be requested.

Who conducts it?

The Contract Compliance Specialist conducts the desk audit. 

What workforce information must contractors provide?

The Notification of Compliance Review letter lists the workforce information that must be provided to the Contract Compliance Specialist.

On-site visit

What is the on-site visit?

The on-site visit consists of two phases. During the first phase, the Contract Compliance Specialist meets with the contractor’s EEO officer and a staff member with the authority to make personnel decisions concerning project staff to review workforce information, make additional inquiries, and identify areas for improvement.
During the second phase, the Contract Compliance Specialist conducts interviews with prime and subcontractor employees to learn more about working conditions on the project.

How long does it typically take?

The entire on-site visit typically takes between two to three hours.

Interviews with company officials

Who should attend?

The EEO officer and a staff member tasked with oversight of personnel actions concerning project staff should attend the first phase of the on-site visit.

Where does the interview occur?

The Contract Compliance Specialist has sole discretion regarding the location of the interview, which is typically held at either the local office of the contractor or the project site.

What type of questions are asked?

The questions are structured around the workforce information previously submitted by the contractor.

Should any documents be brought to the interview?

A copy of all documents requested in the Notification of Compliance Review letter should be brought to the interview.

Project site interviews

When does MnDOT OCR conduct interviews at the project site?

Federal regulations dictate that interviews with prime and subcontractor employees must occur during peak employment time.  

Who determines peak employment time for a project?

The determination as to what constitutes the peak employment time for a project is typically made by the MnDOT Project Engineer or MnDOT Office Manager.

Who is responsible for coordinating the project site interviews?

The project site interviews are coordinated by MnDOT field staff, city/county representatives and/or consultants.
Specifically, interviews are scheduled for a date that works for the MnDOT Project Engineer or MnDOT Inspector, either of whom will accompany the Contract Compliance Specialist on the interviews in order to minimize interference and maximize worksite safety.

Who conducts the project site interviews?

The projects site interviews are conducted by the Contract Compliance Specialist and/or an FHWA representative.

Does a contractor have any say in who is interviewed?

No. The Contract Compliance Specialist and/or FHWA representative have sole discretion when it comes to project site interviews.

Is the company EEO Officer involved with the employee interviews?

No.

Post-annual compliance review

What is a Voluntary Corrective Action Plan (VCAP)?

The VCAP is a document that outlines both the deficiencies uncovered during the annual compliance review and the timeframes for implementing corrective measures.

When is a VCAP issued?

The Notice of Voluntary Corrective Action Plan will be sent to the contractor within 15 calendar days of the completion of the on-site visit.

How long does the contractor have to correct any deficiencies?

The timeframe needed to correct deficiencies will be discussed during the exit conference.

What’s the difference between a deficiency and a recommendation?

Deficiencies are violations of the Code of Federal Regulations, Form FHWA-1273, or any other applicable provisions of state or federal law.
Recommendations are actions the contractor can – and should -- take to improve EEO performance.  

What if additional deficiencies are identified after the exit conference or post-VCAP?

If additional deficiencies are discovered by either MnDOT OCR or the FHWA after the exit conference or issuance of the VCAP, it will not prevent the issuance of a subsequent VCAP and/or a finding of noncompliance.

What if the contractor doesn’t agree with the deficiencies?

The preliminary results of an annual compliance review are shared with the contractor during the exit conference. During this time, concerns may be raised with the Contract Compliance Specialist.
If issues remain with the deficiencies and/or corrective measures ultimately outlined in the VCAP, the contractor has the option of first contacting the MnDOT OCR Director. If no resolution is reached here, the contractor may reach out to the FHWA Civil Rights Specialist.    

What if the contractor fails to correct deficiencies by their respective due dates?

Failure to correct deficiencies and/or implement corrective measures by their respective due dates will result in the project contract being placed in non-compliance. This is significant, as it could result in the imposition of sanctions, including withholding of the payment in the amount of the monthly estimate, or the issuance of a show cause notice. If a contractor fails to comply, MnDOT OCR may recommend that the Minnesota Department of Human Rights revoke its workforce certificate.

Legal Authority

MnDOT has made every effort to include all applicable statutes, laws, regulations and other presiding authorities; however, erroneous citations and omissions do not imply there are no applicable legal citations or other presiding authorities. MnDOT OCR program information should not be construed as legal advice.