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Bloggings: March 5, 2008

by Joel Stewart

Editor's note: Here are the latest entries from Joel Stewart's blog.

March 04, 2008

All about those audits....

While getting the PERM BOOK II ready to go to press, I've been working with the writers who will contribute articles on PERM topics. The topic everyone wants to write about is the one regarding the recent rash of audits. Although it has been perceived as one problem, it is actually a series of issues, having coalesced into "the audit fiasco," including SVP, SOC, O*Net, JobZoneLevels, Minimum Requirement, and Audits.

My approach is that each part of the SVP audit issue needs to be explained separately.

To begin with, one writer will talk about the origins of the current SVP classification system. As everyone knows, the SVP standard has been changed, but nobody really knows why. The source of this change is found in an article called "Stratifying Occupational Units by Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP)" published in 1999 by the National Center for O*Net Development at the Employment Security Commission in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Those of you who are old-timers will remember that the North Carolina Field Center was chosen by DOL to create the now-defunct Dictionary of Occupational Titles.)  The article appears in its complete form in the PERM BOOK I, however, in its pure form, it is unintelligible, having been written by statisticians. The gist of the government article is that 1 + 1 does not equal 2, but equals less than 2. The new PERM Book will try to explain how this came about!

The next audit issue is the SVP. What is the history of SVP? Where did it come from? What was its purpose? What characteristics did it have? Why was it abandoned?

Following the SVP, there will be a discussion of the SOC. The SOC was chosen to replace the SVP. What is the nature of the SOC? How is it different than the SVP? What are its purpose and characteristics? What are the anomalies resulting from the crosswalk?

The O*Net and its Job Zone Levels present an on-line view of the SOC and other factors bearing on job requirements. Not only SVP, but other job preparatory factors are found on the O*Net. They are all there for a purpose, and the PERM BOOK II will explain in depth how the O*Net may be used as part of the PERM preparation and recruitment process.

Another article will discuss trends in Audits, based on the above problems, so that we will understand how the DOL selects cases for audits. This article will be based on the review of thousands of audits, so that a full understanding of audits may be obtained.

Practical tips will be provided on how to audit-proof a PERM application. While this is not entirely possible, the idea is to alert Employers to issue spotting and identifying questions and problems on the PERM form.

Finally, An article will discuss how to respond to an audit if the DOL claims that the requirements are excessive. Indeed, the PERM form requires the Employer to state whether the requirements are excessive. The current conundrum is that the government findings regarding minimum requirements are based on factual errors, and the choice confronting employers who receive audits based on such errors is whether to fight city hall or to quietly provide documentation. The PERM BOOK II will explain the pros and cons of each.

All the above articles will be drawn together into a special audit section in the PERM BOOK II.

Happy audits!