“My wife is always trying to
get rid of me. The other day she told me to put the garbage
out. I said to her I already did. She told me to go and keep
an eye on it.”
Such is the problem with affirmative
action plans – adverse impact reports evaluating applicants vs.
hires are only as good as the underlying data that goes into them
(i.e., garbage in, garbage out). As a result, federal contractors
should “keep an eye on it” and devote the necessary time and
resources to consistently monitor and clean-up their applicant flow
log (AFL) databases. If they don’t, the result is a ticking data
time bomb that can explode in a contractor’s face (or wallet) during
an audit by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
However, it doesn’t have to be this
way. Contractors can instead take basic preventative steps to look
for and correct the following Top 5 AFL mistakes before an audit
1 Applicant, 1 Hire.
Subject to certain caveats related to an
individual’s basic qualifications and candidates who remove
themselves from consideration, federal contractors must
generally track expressions of interest for a position
opening where the contractor “considered” such individuals
for employment. However, if an AFL shows only 1 applicant
and 1 hire for a given job opening, this often means that
the only applicant recorded on the log is the one who was
hired. Thus, all other applicants screened, interviewed or
otherwise considered for the opening are likely missing.
1 Applicant, 2 Hires.
Unlike Mistake No. 1 (which is at least possible if there
were no other applicants for a given position), an AFL that
shows 1 applicant and 2 hires (or 2 applicants, 3 hires,
etc.) for specific openings or a given Job Group is
obviously incorrect on its face. In other words, at
least 1 or more additional applicants considered for the
position or the openings within the Job Group are missing.
5 (But Really 15) Applicants, 1 Hire.
A variation of Mistake No. 1 occurs when an AFL
includes only a small number of candidates for a position
but the contractor actually received and considered numerous
other expressions of interest. This problem can arise when
a contractor lists on the AFL only those applicants who were
interviewed for a given opening. However,
this again is incorrect, as all “applicants” who were
considered for an opening must generally be listed on the
log, even if they did not advance to the interview stage
(e.g., “applicants” who underwent paper or phone screening).
Mixing Internal vs. External Applicants.
Although different approaches can be adopted, many
contractors take the position that information contained on
AFLs for “hires” logically should be limited to external
expressions of interest for position openings that were
ultimately filled by external candidates (i.e.,
candidates outside of the contractor). Under such approach,
AFLs that correspond to external
hires should not include expressions of interest from:
- Internal candidates for positions that were
ultimately filled by external candidates; or
- Internal or external
candidates for positions that were ultimately filled by
Mixing Affirmative Action Plan Years.
Lastly, AFLs are often compiled using two different
methods: (1) based on all expressions of interest received
in a given plan year, regardless of the date a given
position opening is filled; or (2) based on all expressions
of interest for position openings filled during the same
year, even if the expressions themselves were received
outside of the plan year. Regardless of the method used,
expressions of interest that are outside of a
chosen AFL compilation window should not be included
on the log. For example:
An AFL for the period 1/1/07 - 12/31/07 compiled
based on position openings filled
during the plan year should not include
candidates for positions filled before 1/1/07 or
- An AFL for the period 1/1/07 - 12/31/07 compiled
based on all expressions of interest received
during the plan year should not include expressions of
interest received before 1/1/07 or after 12/31/07.
In the end, a contractor’s AFL should
ultimately match one thing – reality. However, what does or does
not get counted in a given plan year from a regulatory standpoint
can get confusing, especially when overlaid with the OFCCP’s
Internet Applicant rules that went into effect in 2006. Federal
contractors should, therefore, consult with their counsel when
developing “applicant” tracking procedures to ensure that the AFL
which supports an affirmative action plan is as accurate as