Magazine article The Small Business Advocate

Federal Small Business Contractors May Be Required to Use Mandatory Employment Verification System

Magazine article The Small Business Advocate

Federal Small Business Contractors May Be Required to Use Mandatory Employment Verification System

Article excerpt

On August 7, the Office of Advocacy filed a comment letter with the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council, Civilian Agency Acquisition Council, and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council, in response to their notice of proposed rulemaking entitled, "Employment Eligibility Verification" (73 Fed. Reg. 33374, June 12, 2008). In its letter, Advocacy advised the councils to better calculate the impact of the E- Verify program on small business contractors and to delay implementation of E- Verify for small business contractors until greater accuracy of the system is guaranteed.

The E- Verify system is intended to prevent the hiring or continued employment of aliens by govern- ment contractors. It dates to 1996, when Congress included it as part of the amended Immigration and Nationality Act. The act authorized the President to establish a demon- stration E- Verify project. The pilot program is scheduled to expire in November 2008 unless Congress renews it. On June 6, 2008, President Bush issued Executive Order 13465, directing federal agencies to use the E- Verify system as a mandatory employment veri- fication system for federal contrac- tors. The councils' draft regulations of June 12 are meant to implement this mandate.

Advocacy held an E- Verify roundtable on July 17. Small business stakeholders from various industries attended and participants flagged several issues. Since the current E- Verify system is webbased, there is very little software cost. But small businesses without computers or with older ones will incur hardware costs, and there are costs for personnel to be trained to use the system. Business also identified flaws within the system, which will be made worse when the system becomes mandatory and the number of businesses using it doubles. …

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