Data to accomplish this objective also could be gathered in a third way, not mentioned in your post but raised by several commenters who responded to the 2011 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The OFCCP has an existing database of compensation information submitted by contractors who have been audited. This database should cover most if not all of the universe of industries over which the agency has jurisdiction. Audit data has several advantages over any information the OFCCP could reasonably hope to collect in an annual Equal Pay Report. Audit compensation information is annualized, allowing comparisons on a one-to-one basis. The information also is organized in accordance with classifications determined by contractors to be most appropriate. Going forward under the new scheduling letter, the OFCCP will have even more detailed individualized compensation data. If the objective is to derive industry-wide estimates, this pre-existing data source could surely provide all of the information OFCCP would need to accomplish that end.
Your suggestion also raises some interesting parallels to the methods used by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to target employers for inspection. Some important lessons might be learned from this history. OSHA has a long track record of selecting industries for “emphasis programs” based on data indicating elevated injury, illness, or fatality rates. OSHA relies heavily on existing BLS surveys to identify these high-hazard industries, much like the second alternative suggested in your comment. OSHA, however, also uses a Site-Specific Targeting (SST) program to identify individual workplaces within specific industries that it will inspect. Data for the SST program come from a separate OSHA Data Initiative (“ODI”) survey. In contrast to the BLS survey, the ODI collects information on an individual establishment level. Unlike the proposed OFCCP data collection effort, however, the ODI survey is not sent to every employer under OSHA’s jurisdiction, but rather to a randomly selected sample of employers. This sample is weighted to increase the selection likelihood for employers from high-hazard industries, aligning nicely with the objectives suggested in your comment. If the OFCCP feels the need for a means to look beyond aggregated industry data in order to hone in on specific contractors, one wonders if a similar sampling approach might work.