Feds Eye New Tool To Detect Compensation Discrimination.
In a notice published Aug. 10 in the Federal Register, the office requested public comment on how this data tool should be designed, who should be required to submit compensation data, and what steps should be taken to ease the burden on small businesses.
The purpose of the tool is to give the office better data for analyzing whether federal contractors and subcontractors are paying women or minorities less than white men for comparable work. The office is in charge of enforcing an executive order that bars any company that does business with the federal government from employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race or religion. Eliminating pay discrimination is one of the office’s top priorities.
The data tool also could be used by contractors to self-test whether their compensation practices are fair, according to the office.
Women were paid an average of 77 cents for every dollar paid to men in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other research has shown race-based pay disparities.
“The wage gap has narrowed, but not nearly enough,” said U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. “The president and I are committed to ending pay discrimination once and for all.”
“This proposal is about gathering better data, which will allow us to focus our enforcement resources where they are most needed,” said Patricia Shiu, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. “We can’t truly solve this problem until we can see it, measure it and put dollar figures on it.”
Compensation data may be collected not just for current federal contractors, but also as part of bids by companies seeking future contracts, according to the office.
Government seeks ideas on what to do with its foreclosed homes
The Federal Housing Finance Agency issued a request for information on new options for disposing of these homes, including pooling these properties and turning them into rental housing. The goal is to reduce the number of government-owned homes, while getting back as much money for taxpayers as possible. However, the government also is looking for proposals that support affordable housing, address properties that need repair and stabilize distressed neighborhoods.
“Exploring new options for selling these foreclosed properties will help expand access to affordable rental housing, promote private investment in local housing markets, and support neighborhood and home price stability,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
NIST awards $2.7M in research funding to 18 small businesses
The National Institute of Standards and Technology awarded $2.7 million in contracts to 18 small businesses for projects ranging from microscopic robots to an improved system for broadcasting time-of-day signals.
The competitive awards were made through the Small Business Innovation Research program, which requires 11 federal agencies with large outside research budgets to award at least 2.5 percent of this spending to small businesses.
DOE provides $175M for 40 projects advancing vehicle technologies
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded $175 million in funding to 40 advanced vehicle technology projects.
Recipients of these grants will kick in more than $125 million for these projects, which range from developing better fuels and lubricants to improving electric vehicle batteries.
“Investments in the next generation of autos will strengthen our economy and lead to a more fuel-efficient, clean energy future,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Source: Kent Hoover, Business Journal.