Contractors seeking US federal contracts will need to use the E-Verify system come September for maintaining a reliable and legal workforce.
The Obama administration will begin enforcing the mandatory E-Verify employment verification rule for federal contractors from September 8, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.
“E-Verify is a smart, simple and effective tool that reflects our continued commitment to working with employers to maintain a legal workforce,” Napolitano said. “The rule complements our [Homeland Security] Department's continued efforts to strengthen immigration law enforcement and protect critical employment opportunities.”
“After a careful review, the administration will push ahead with full implementation of the rule, which will apply to federal solicitations and contract awards government wide,” Napolitano said.
E-Verify is a Web-based system run by the DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). About 134,000 employers use the system, and 12 states have made E-Verify use a requirement for state workers, state contractors or both.
Employers use E-Verify by entering the Social Security Numbers of prospective new hires and existing employees. If there is a match, the employee is eligible for work. If not, the employee is advised to contact SSA to determine the source of the problem. DHS acknowledges a 3.9% rate of non-matches in the system; however, critics contend the error rate is higher because the system is not designed to catch stolen or borrowed Social Security Numbers.
Implementing the mandatory E-Verify system has been postponed four times, first in January. White House officials said they needed more time to review a pending lawsuit brought by the US Chamber of Commerce that challenged the constitutionality of mandatory E-Verify use by federal contractors, which had started as an executive order by President George W Bush.
Under Bush's executive order, about 168,000 federal contractors were to begin mandatory use of E-Verify starting this January. The order applies to federal contracts valued at more than $100,000 and subcontracts worth more than $3,000.
The lawsuit challenging the rule is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Co-plaintiffs with the chamber are the Society for Human Resource Management, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the HR Policy Association, and the American Council on International Personnel.