ITAA, PSC want changes to E-Verify rule

Two industry groups are urging the Federal Acquisition Council to rethink ? and possibly delay ? a proposed rule that requires contractors and subcontractors to use the E-Verify system.

The system checks employees' citizenship and immigration status to determine if they are eligible for employment.

Contractors should be held to the same standard as federal agencies when it comes to how and when they are required to use the E-Verify system, the Professional Services Council said in comments filed Aug. 11.

The Information Technology Association of America wants the rule delayed until Congress can re-authorize E-Verify.

"The government and industry need time to improve the system and to scale it from limited use to the millions of private-sector employees working for the federal government," said Olga Grkavac, an executive vice president at ITAA.

The proposed Federal Acquisition Regulation rule would require contractors and their subcontractors to verify the employment status of all their employees. They would have to comply within 30 days of enrolling in the E-Verify system.

One of PSC's complaints is that federal agencies are only required to verify the status of new employees, not all employees.

"Federal contractors should not be subjected to any greater requirement than federal employees, and today, only new federal employees are required to be verified through the E-Verify system," said Alan Chvotkin, PSC's senior vice president and counsel.

PSC, which represents a wide range of government contractors, said it supports verifying employment eligibility but opposes the rule in its current form.

Among the changes the group wants are a phased-in implementation plan, clarification of the subcontractor requirements and a broader definition of commercial items.

ITAA, which represents IT manufacturers, software developers and service providers, said that in its current form the proposed rule could be read too broadly. The organization maintains that there are flaws with the existing E-Verify system; namely, it fails to verify eligibility in more than 8 percent of the cases.

In addition to postponement, ITAA said, the Federal Acquisition Council should consider phasing in the requirement over a five-year period to ensure that the system can handle the expected volume.

The organization also wants to limit the rule to contract employees working in the United States and said prime contractors should not be responsible for verifying the status of subcontractors' employees.

ITAA officials also expressed concern about the delays and costs that companies could incur if the government mandates the use of the E-Verify system.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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