What Government Contractors Need to Know about the President’s Executive Orders

President Obama has released several executive orders this year that will bring changes in the government contracting world. Starting with his most recent order, we’ve compiled some “need-to-know’s” to help you understand what’s coming in the future.

President Obama’s most recent executive order now prevents federal agencies from making applicants reveal their criminal history as an up-front step in the hiring process, in what is being called the “Ban the Box” action. This is a crucial part of his effort to overhaul criminal justice and create new job opportunities in the U.S. The executive order stipulates that federal employers delay asking applicants about any convictions until after a conditional offer of employment has been extended.

According to Law 360, more subjective considerations will arise after the questions have been addressed. President Obama says that millions of Americans with a criminal history have problems getting their “foot in the door’.” This is designed so that potential employees are given a fair opportunity from the start.

Additionally, a pool of untapped potential is now going to be trained for skills in demand. Victor Dickinson, president and CEO of Safer Foundation, says training hubs are being set up to train people with criminal backgrounds for specific skills in demand. These programs are helping federal industries fill open positions.

Another executive order announced this fall establishes paid and sick leave for employees of federal contractors. Government contractor employees can earn up to 7 days or more of paid sick leave annually, including paid leave allowing for family care. (Whitehouse.gov) The hope is to improve both an employee’s health and their work performance. As announced, this order is intended to allow federal contractors to remain competitive when searching for top talent.

In August, President Obama issued an executive order to prevent federal contractors who have violated labor laws from competing for certain types of work and gives agencies greater guidance on how to take violations into account while awarding contracts. Now, contractors have to keep track of their own mistakes by self-reporting violations and updating government agencies every six months. (Washintgonpost.com)

Lawrence Prosen, a lawyer who represents contractors, believes this is a remarkable change from the status quo. “Now you’re shifting the burden to contractors to comply with another bureaucratic step,” he says.