A PDN is the letter a CO must use to notify the contractor of the preliminary finding that the contractor engaged in individual or systemic discrimination. The PDN states the basis for the preliminary findings and offers the contractor the opportunity to respond. This section covers when COs use a PDN, the contents of the notice, who receives the notice and who has signature authority for issuing the notice.
- COs must use a PDN in discrimination cases following compliance evaluations conducted under Executive Order 11246, Section 503 and/or VEVRAA.409 The PDN must describe the indicators of discrimination and any other violations found, affording the contractor the opportunity to respond. COs should not use a PDN in cases in which there are only recordkeeping or affirmative action deficiencies, such as a failure to meet the standards for AAP acceptability. 410 The CO must consult with RSOL, BES, and other appropriate agency personnel in the national office prior to issuing the PDN.
After a CO identifies preliminary indicators of discrimination, the CO must notify the contractor through a PDN before issuing an NOV.
409. See Letter L-35 – Predetermination Notice.
410. See FCCM 8E – Predetermination Notice; Letter L-35– Predetermination Notice.
The PDN typically has three parts: a description of any indicators of discrimination, a list of any other unresolved violations, and an offer of an opportunity to respond to the PDN with additional information or evidence. These three parts are described in more detail below. Letter L-35, Predetermination Notice, is a sample form letter for a PDN.
a. Description of the Discrimination. In this, the first part of the PDN, a CO describes all discrimination findings. This description will include identification of the discrimination victim(s), e.g., the affected class or individual(s); the employment action(s) giving rise to the preliminary findings; and the basis for the liability determination (e.g., disparate treatment in the selection of minority technicians). The PDN should also include facts and the results of analyses that support the preliminary determination and recommended remedies. Typically, the PDN includes the magnitude of the impact in terms of shortfalls or pay disparities and the measure of statistical certainty (e.g., standard deviation).
b. Other Unresolved Issues. After describing the discrimination findings, a CO identifies and addresses other unresolved deficiencies, such as affirmative action deficiencies that did not result in an “acceptable AAP” finding. A CO also identifies and addresses recordkeeping and technical violations, such as the contractor’s failure to post required notices.
c. Offer the Contractor the Opportunity to Respond. The PDN offers the contractor an opportunity to respond in writing within 15 calendar days.
If, after the receipt of a PDN, the contractor does not respond by the indicated date or obtain an extension, the CO will issue an NOV incorporating the preliminary findings after consultation with RSOL, BES, and other appropriate agency personnel in the national office.411 The NOV will indicate that the contractor did not respond and/or did not rebut the discrimination issue (or any other issues raised in the PDN).
411. See FCCM 8F.
COs address PDNs to the top official at the establishment under review or the top official of the construction company in the economic area being reviewed. A copy is sent to the CEO of the corporation if the establishment or construction company is part of a larger corporation. If the contractor has submitted a written request that the CO provide a copy of the review or investigation correspondence to an outside representative such as an outside counsel or consultant, the CO will also send a copy to the designated representative. If the contractor requests that the CO provide the representative with the document, the CO should send a copy to the top official at the establishment and the CEO. When the CO provides copies to a corporate CEO, another contractor official or a designated representative, the CO will include a “cc:” line on all copies indicating the people to whom the PDN was sent.
COs always send a PDN by certified mail, return receipt requested, and email or facsimile.
If the contractor does respond to the PDN, the CO should review the presented information. If there are issues requiring further investigation, the CO should request and analyze the additional information, as needed. The CO may conduct further investigation on-site or through an off-site review of records. The CO should determine whether the contractor’s response satisfactorily rebuts some or all of the allegations of discrimination in the PDN. For example, does the PDN response provide a legitimate, nondiscriminatory explanation (that is, an explanation that is not a pretext for discrimination) for alleged disparate treatment? The CO should also determine whether the contractor’s response satisfactorily rebuts any other violation findings made in the PDN. In evaluating the response, the CO should remember that unsupported contractor assertions, or assertions that the CO previously fully considered, are not sufficient to rebut findings of discrimination.
A contractor may respond to the PDN in one of three ways: with a full rebuttal of all the issues, with a partial rebuttal or with an inadequate rebuttal.
a. Contractor Adequately Rebuts. If the contractor’s response adequately rebuts all of the preliminary findings in the PDN and there are no other remaining issues, the CO will acknowledge acceptance of the response and issue an appropriate closure document.412
b. Some Issues Rebutted. If the contractor’s response adequately rebuts some, but not all, of the preliminary findings in the PDN, the CO should issue an NOV accepting the response in those areas where it was sufficient. The CO should address the remaining findings of violations with recommended corrective actions.
c. All Issues Inadequately Rebutted. If the contractor’s response does not rebut any of the preliminary findings in the PDN, the CO should acknowledge the response. The acknowledgment should also explain that the contractor’s response did not sufficiently rebut the preliminary findings and give an appropriate explanation. The CO should incorporate the PDN’s findings and recommended corrective actions into an NOV.
412. See Letter L-5 – Notice of Closing: No Violation Found.