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Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

From 2/13/09 eWeek.com...
Federal agents arrest 11 people in seven states for allegedly submitting false statements and documents in support of their H-1B visa petitions. The Department of Justice has also issued a 10-count indictment against IT services company Vision Systems Group, of New Jersey, for conspiracy and mail fraud involving H-1B visas. The indictment seeks $7.4 million in forfeitures against Vision Systems while warning that other IT companies are under investigation.

Federal authorities have busted an alleged nationwide H-1B scam ring, arresting 11 people in seven states and bringing a 10-count indictment against a New Jersey IT services company. The indictment charges Vision Systems Group with one count of conspiracy and eight counts of mail fraud and seeks $7.4 million in forfeitures.

The individual arrests were carried out Feb. 11 by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Iowa, California, Massachusetts, Texas, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and New Jersey.

According to Matthew G. Whitaker, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, the federal investigation involves companies that sponsor primarily H-1B nonimmigrants. Vision Systems and five other companies under investigation have said their H-1B workers have been brought to the United States to fill existing IT vacancies. Whitaker claims the companies have not always had jobs available for these workers, placing them in nonpay status after they arrive in the United States.

n some cases, according to the charges, the H-1B workers have been placed in jobs and locations not previously certified by the Department of Labor, replacing qualified American workers and violating prevailing wage laws. The companies and foreign workers have allegedly submitted false statements and documents in support of their visa petitions.  

Since the allegedly false statements and documents were mailed or wired to state and federal agencies in support of the H-1B applications, the companies are suspected of visa fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. In addition to Vision Systems, which maintains a branch office in Coon Rapids, Iowa, Whitaker said Worldwide Software Services and Sana Systems in Clinton, Iowa, are under investigation for document fraud. 

"This is a prime example of how the Department of Homeland Security identifies fraud," USCIS (U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services) Acting Deputy Director Michael Aytes said in a statement. "Our adjudication officers can spot inconsistencies during the application process that ultimately lead to the successful outcome we're seeing today. Visa fraud undermines the integrity of the immigration system."

A favorite of American technology companies, the H-1B program is a temporary work visa program allowing American companies and universities to employ foreign guest workers who have the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree in a job category that is considered by the USCIS to be a "specialty occupation." The idea is to help companies hire foreign workers on a temporary basis when there is not a sufficient qualified American work force to meet those needs. H-1B visa winners can work in the United States for three years, with an option for an additional three years.

The Silicon Valley has repeatedly urged Congress to raise the H-1B cap, which is currently set at 65,000 visas per fiscal year, but lawmakers have resisted, citing concerns over fraud in the H-1B program.

In October 2008, a USCIS report found that the H-1B program has more than a 20 percent violation rate. The fraud identified in the report included jobs not located where employers claimed, H-1B visa holders not being paid the prevailing wage, forged documents, fraudulent degrees and "shell businesses."  

Even before the report was issued, Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Bernie Sanders of Vermont were seeking reform of the H-1B visa program. A bill introduced in the 110th Congress by Grassley and Durbin would require employers to make a good-faith effort to hire American workers first. Employers would also have to show that the H-1B worker would not displace an American worker.

The bill, likely to be reintroduced in the new Congress, would require employers to advertise job openings on a Department of Labor Web site before submitting an H-1B application. In addition, the bill would give the Department of Labor a mandate to conduct random audits of any company that uses the H-1B program and would require annual audits of companies with more than 100 employees that have 15 percent or more of those workers on H-1B visas.

"This is about protecting the American worker," Grassley said in a statement accompanying the bill. "We're closing loopholes that employers have exploited by requiring them to be more transparent about their hiring, and we're ensuring more oversight of these visa programs to reduce fraud and abuse. A little sunshine will go a long way to help the American worker."

From 2/09 Dice...
Are you paying your IT professionals too much - or too little? And how does your salary scale compare to other companies in your industry? Find out with Dice's Annual Salary Survey Results. Dice polled more than 19,000 technology professionals across the nation to measure salaries, learn which skills are in the high demand, and compare salary growth between cities. The survey gives you valuable insight for recruiting and hiring IT professionals. Review the results here

From Contingent Workforce Strategies...
Here's a brief outline you may find helpful in crafting your RFI/RFP's as it pertains to your contingent workforce.

A Contingent Workforce RFP

There are many different styles and variations of RFP's for contingent workforce services. Listed below are some of the most important topics your RFP should address.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is the half-page of text that puts buyers and sellers on the same page. It is your opportunity to position clearly what's most important to you in the RFP and how you expect it to be presented.

Introduction

The introduction is your opportunity to provide the information bidders need in order to know where your program stands today, where you're trying to take it, and what known obstacles stand in the way.

Supplier Profile

This section requests background of the supplier, including geographic scope, experience, awards, references and some indication of the financial stability of the firm.

Capabilities

This section requests a description of the main components of the service that a provider will offer and its experience delivering that service. It also should uncover such things as how your account will be managed and how communication will flow between organizations.

Additional Services

This section collects information on any special services that suppliers can provide such as data analysis or less typical service offerings such as payrolling services, 1099 qualification services, or consulting.

Technology

Depending on the sort of solution you are seeking you will need to inquire at various depths about the type of technology that suppliers will bring to bear to your account. If your organization is seeking an MSP/VMS relationship then the questions in this section need to be quite detailed.

Implementation

This section requests the approach to implementation that your suppliers will take, the resources that they will bring to bear for the project and their expected timeline.

Training/Support

How will your suppliers help your organization get up to speed with the tools, technologies and processes that must be mastered with your new supplier relationship? And what support will they provide for ongoing education?

Pricing

This section is perhaps the first thing most RFP readers jump to, but should really serve as the start of a discussion rather than the endpoint.

Service Level Agreements

Companies often require that their providers meet certain levels of service delivery and have some of their profits at risk if those levels are not met.

Appendix

The user of any RFP will benefit from having a glossary of terms to ensure that there are common understandings of important terms.

From Contingent Workforce Strategies... 
Make sure your vendor metrics are realistic and fair.  Including your vendors in defining vendor scorecards and performance measurement criteria, not only "buys them in" to the process but produces more effective ratings and service level agreements.

Peek Under the Hood:  Trust, But Verify

 

All too often, corporations enter a staffing vendor relationship with the mindset that the vendor is untrustworthy. Whether it is on the contract staffing side or the direct hire side, most human resources departments approach the relationship cautiously and often try to keep the vendor at arms-length. But such a negative approach practically guarantees failure. When there is trust in the relationship, though, it's perfectly reasonable for the buyer to expect that trust to be justified - and that results from mutually agreed-upon measurements.

It is a common practice for buyers and managers of contingent workers to dictate outcomes and measures to staffing vendors. Such an approach is certainly more streamlined and easier to implement. However, including staffing vendors in the task of setting outcomes and metrics will prove to be a superior method.

Successful implementation of a program where staffing vendors are part of the process of setting outcomes and measures starts with an important shift in how buyers think. The first step in shifting that thought process is viewing staffing vendors as an extension of the human resources department.

Change in Perspective
This shift by HR or even procurement departments does not happen overnight. It requires senior leadership to establish a policy of viewing vendors as an extension of the company itself. Ultimately, a plan will need to be built out that includes conducting a gap analysis, establishing an envisioned future, educating employees, setting relational guidelines and conducting regular follow-up meetings.

Developing a mindset and mode of operation that staffing vendors are part of a team will engender loyalty and flexibility. One positive effect is that your company will become a priority account. Additionally, it can yield a whole host of information, from a staffing vendor's perspective, regarding best practices in the talent acquisition game.

I am not proposing that a corporation become completely transparent to its staffing vendors. These relationships function best in a checks-and-balances system. And they work better when all parties are involved in creating the measuring stick. "Better" in this case is the implementation of an organization's overall staffing strategy.

Assume that a company has a healthy, open relationship with its staffing vendors. How do the two entities set outcomes and measurements that deliver value and are fair?

Strategic Alignment
In a perfect world, the outcomes that one would be setting with staffing vendors are pulled directly from the organization's staffing strategies, which, in turn, are aligned with its corporate strategies. Such results could be global, such as accomplishing key initiatives (staffing a new plant or staffing a project). Others could be smaller in scope, such as increasing utilization rates or conversion rates.

With the outcomes in hand, it is best to ask staffing vendors such questions as:

  • Are the metrics we are currently using helping us to reach these outcomes?
  • Are they realistic?
  • Are they generating the best and most useful information?
  • Are they helping us all to succeed?

 

The better staffing vendors will have numerous metrics that they will share gladly in exchange for deepening their relationship with an organization. Those metrics that were created by both parties will actually improve results.  

Avoid Errors
A common and critical error is to make dollars and cents the dominant measurement of a vendor relationship. That is because it will affect all decisions governing staffing vendors - including those that don't hinge on economics. If the need to spend less money is not balanced with other outcomes, it will have a deleterious effect in many ways. The best approach is to put the dollars spent against priorities. If something costs more, but is also more important to achieving a company's goals, then it is money well spent.

It is a critical error to push unrealistic metrics on staffing vendors. Vendors then find it difficult to buy into the program. If they are part of the process, and if their input is heard, good things will result.

Some metrics simply do not make sense. Take performance metrics, for example. On any given day, see if your company's best internal recruiter can match the performance required of a staffing vendor. If not, then those higher expectations of the vendor should be reviewed.

Meanwhile, some metrics make sense on the surface, but not when you dig deeper. For example, establishing a four-hour turnaround time on requisitions or requiring a certain number of submissions on requisitions seem logical. Yes, companies want a quick turnaround time and want to ensure that staffing firms on their list are working diligently on their job orders. In reality, though, such requirements encourage vendors simply to submit resumes in quantity. Over time, quality goes out the window.

By viewing staffing suppliers as an extension of an HR department, by setting outcomes and measurements in conjunction with staffing vendors, an organization enhances the value of what is delivered and at little or no cost. Otherwise, the supplier might chafe under arbitrary control to the point where it will seek other opportunities. Or, the company might be faced with a constant churn of vendors that can't meet its arbitrary standards.

The ultimate goal for any organization that relies on contingent work is flexibility, cost-efficiency and quality work. All of those can be met with a different way of thinking and some cooperation.

From NACCB Vendor Management Best Practices...
This list of 10 questions is the result of a survey conducted by the NACCB (National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses) based on input from 4 stakeholders - clients, vendors, managed service providers and consultants.

1. Have you included hiring managers/users and vendors in the design and periodic evaluation of the VMS program?

The needs of all the constituencies must be taken into account when designing a VMS program. A balance must be created between the needs of the end user (the department that employs the contingent worker), the needs of procurement and HR, the needs of the VMS program managers, and the needs of the staffing companies (who also represent the needs of the consultants). Everyone is on the same team working towards the same objectives: program success, payback and ensuring an efficient and proactive hiring process that results in hiring the best people at the most reasonable rates.

2. Do you have the proper number of preferred vendors to work with?

Too many vendors and you will lose the interest of vendors who perceive the probability of making a placement as too low. Not only would even their "fair share" be small, but at the same time their recruiting costs go up in parallel with worse fill ratios. For example, if there were 10 vendors, a fair share would logically average out to 1 placement for every 10 times a vendor recruits. Increasing that to 50 vendors means a vendor must recruit 50 times to make that same 1 placement.

Too few vendors can also be problematic, so you have to closely examine your anticipated needs, factor in reasonable fill ratios to keep vendors interested, and determine the optimum number. Also, many VMS programs have "secondary" or "tier 2" vendors. Do you have a sound procedure for using secondary vendors? Secondary vendors understand their position, but in order to maintain a quality secondary list it's important to offer them realistic opportunities - you may need them someday.

3. Do you provide the means for responsive communications?

If you don't allow this, you will lose the interest of vendors that place great importance in directly understanding the needs of your managers and in playing a consultative and advisory role to your organization. These high-service vendors are the vendors that you want.

Contrary to what many think, allowing controlled communication with hiring managers actually increases the VMS program efficiency because the candidate/client match is focused and the total time spent sorting and interviewing is shortened. Also consider the need for proactive management of consultants currently on assignment.

4. Do you encourage candidate quality over resume submittal speed?

If you're receiving too many resumes very quickly with disappointing results, it may be that vendors are skipping important recruiting, screening and evaluation tasks in order to submit a resume before the requirement is closed. Tell your vendors you will collect resumes for 3-5 days before you make any hiring decisions. This will result in their presenting you with "best fit" candidates versus "first fit" ones.

5. Do you have limits on the number of resumes vendors may submit per job order?

Limits are a good idea for both clients and vendors. They prevent clients from being deluged with resumes and encourage vendors to be selective in whom they submit. A reasonable number of resumes per vendor depends upon the size of your vendor list, but 2-3 per vendor seems to work well. This allows the vendor to be selective and still realize an acceptable fill ratio - assuming your vendor list is not overly large.

6. Do you provide vendors sufficient detail on the job requirements?

Skimpy requirements produce skimpy candidates. Your requirements should be thorough and complete regarding technical skills, application skills, interpersonal skills, position responsibilities, duration, option-to-hire, etc.

When questions arise on requirements, make sure you respond quickly and effectively to the vendors. Respect the fact that the better vendors typically ask more probing questions, which allow them to better pinpoint the most appropriate candidates.

7. Do you have adequately skilled VMS staff reviewing the resumes?

If not, they will likely base their decisions on resume acronyms and buzzwords - which unfortunately may encourage some vendors to embellish resumes to secure an interview.

8. Do you provide vendors with prompt and sufficient resume and interview feedback?

Responsiveness to vendors is a key attribute for VMS success. Without feedback, vendors will not learn or improve from the experience so they can better serve you. Feedback must be prioritized. However, even if you as a VMS manager do not have feedback from the hiring managers, at least be responsive.

9. Do you negotiate "too hard" on pricing and contractual terms with vendors?

If so, you may discourage vendors from submitting their best candidates - which they will present to more favorable clients. You may also find your vendor list consisting of companies that compete on price versus quality - which is probably not what you desire.

10. Do you track vendor and program performance and share it with the vendors?

The good vendors want to know how they are performing so that they can improve.  Likewise, they want your program to succeed so that they succeed...a classic win/win. The exchange of information and ideas provides invaluable insight.

From 2/16/09 ComputerWorld... 
You're a strong advocate of negotiating for a higher starting salary. How is that possible when there's so much competition for every job?

Many job seekers erroneously believe that they can't negotiate wages, benefits or perks in a tight labor market for fear of losing a job offer. Because of this, many people enter new jobs feeling like they've been taken advantage of. As a result, they ultimately lose motivation to excel, which in turn means raises and/or promotions don't come as rapidly -- or not at all.

Job seekers need to understand a few realities about the hiring and negotiation process. First, if you don't ask for more, you will never get more. Even if you don't get everything you want, getting a little bit of something is better than getting a whole lot of nothing. If you end up with nothing, you've lost nothing. Second, compensation negotiation isn't a zero-sum game. Both parties can end up winners instead of one having to lose so the other can win. Third, the employer wouldn't be looking if it weren't in need. This puts some immediate negotiation power into the hands of the job seeker who fits the needs of the employer.

There's a belief that every employer is looking for the cheapest worker it can find. In some instances this is true, but in reality most employers realize that paying a fair and equitable wage is one of the best ways to keep good workers, maintain quality and increase productivity.

What if it's clear that there's just no wiggle room on salary?

If they can't give you any more money, negotiate for things that you'd spend money for, things that make you a more valuable employee, things that enhance your quality of life or things that can be turned into money later.

Examples of things you would spend money for are job-related tools, including computers and software; allowances for clothing, parking, gas and day care; or company products or promotional items the company might receive or distribute, such as event tickets. You can also ask if the company gets corporate product discounts on vehicles, credit card interest rates, food supplies, home furnishings, etc. If it does, negotiate for inclusion of these types of things.

Things that make you more valuable might include an educational allowance, or ongoing and on-the-job training (preferably in Hawaii).

Quality-of-life items include reduced travel, a day of telecommuting or a work schedule that fits around family needs.

And things that can be turned into money later include stock options, profit sharing, deferred compensation, cost-of-living increases and bonuses for exceptional work.

What sort of information should a person have at hand in order to negotiate more effectively?

  • A thorough knowledge of what makes you unique and a list of 30 to 60 of your most marketable skills.
  • A list of previous accomplishments and how those accomplishments benefited the prior company's bottom line.
  • Letters of recommendation from previous employers and co-workers highlighting your immediate value to the company.
  • A solid understanding of the needs and problems you can solve at the company to which you're applying.
  • A salary survey for people with your skills and experience in your general work locale.
  • Considerable practice giving verbal examples of how hiring you will benefit the company's bottom line.

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