A new federal regulation took effect in September requiring compliance with the E-Verify system for all companies selling to the federal government. Iowa companies currently selling or wanting to sell products or services to the federal government must use the online E-Verify system to electronically verify that employees are authorized to work in the United States. Extension’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) is offering workshops to help companies become registered and work effectively in the system.
According to Kristin Bowen, a CIRAS government contracting specialist, the E-Verify workshops continue through early February 2010 around the state. The workshops are free to Iowa businesses, but pre-registration is required. Any Iowa company that sells or has an interest in selling products or services to the Federal Government should participate.
E-Verify is a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) oversees the program. According to the USCIS Web site, 96.9 percent of employees are automatically confirmed as work authorized either instantly or within 24 hours.
If companies that have federal government contracts don’t comply with E-Verify, they may face monetary fines of $100 to $11,000 per employee as well as other civil and criminal penalties, Bowen said. “They also may lose their existing federal contracts, and we want Iowa companies to avoid these potential consequences.”
After this initial round of workshops, E-Verify training will be integrated into CIRAS’ regular menu of training opportunities for Iowa companies, said David Bogaczyk, CIRAS program manager.
Government contracting gives Iowa businesses access to another lucrative market in challenging economic times. Approximately 1,500 Iowa companies are already doing business with this market that purchases products and services in excess of $400 billion. CIRAS is working to increase the number of companies winning government contracts to benefit the Iowa economy, especially during these tough economic times, Bogaczyk said.
CIRAS guides companies interested in government contracting through the Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP), a national program administered through the Department of Defense. CIRAS helps companies find and respond to appropriate bids, market their products and services to government agencies and contractors, and increase their sales in the government marketplace — steps that can prove critical to success in uncertain economic times.