The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ own policies are limiting its ability to enforce affirmative action and anti-discrimination obligations of companies working under contracts with federal agencies, GAO has said.

That agency, an arm of the Labor Department, “directs contractors to set placement goals for all minorities as a group rather than for specific racial/ethnic groups. OFCCP also has not made changes to its establishment based approach to selecting entities for review in decades, even though changes have occurred in how workplaces are structured. Without taking steps to address these issues, OFCCP may miss opportunities to hold contractors responsible for complying with affirmative action and nondiscrimination requirements,” a report said.

It added that while the EEOC has identified barriers to recruitment and hiring in the technology sector as a strategic priority, when that agency conducts investigations, “it does not systematically record the type of industry, therefore limiting sector-related analyses to help focus its efforts.”

The report noted that women and minorities traditionally have been under-represented in that sector versus the workplace as a whole. Over the 10 years through 2015, it added, the percentage of women in such jobs has held steady at 22 percent, while the percentage of minorities has increased from 26 to 33 percent.

GAO said that the percentages of women and minorities who pursue studies leading to such jobs explains much of the under-representation, but that company hiring and retention practices also play a role, one that falls within the obligations of contractors to comply with affirmative action and other equal employment opportunity laws.