Both regulations also have training and record-keeping provisions. For example, the veterans rule mandates that contractors “maintain several quantitative measurements and comparisons for the number of veterans who apply for jobs and the number of veterans they hire.”

Labor estimates that implementing the rule covering people with disabilities will cost all federal contractors—not just those in construction—$1.5 billion to $3.9 billion over 10 years, on a net-present-value basis. The range partly reflects two different discount rates used.

The department estimates the 10-year cost of the veterans’ rule at $899 million to $3.1 billion.

But construction contractor groups sharply criticized the rules and may take the matter to court.

Stephen Sandherr, Associated General Contractors of America CEO, termed the regulations “oppressive.” He said in a statement that the rules will cost federal contractors of all types about $6 billion per year—a much higher figure than OFCCP's estimates—“to produce reams of new paperwork proving they are doing what the federal government already knows they are doing.”

Sandherr said AGC “will closely review all appropriate legal options available to protect employers—who have already made sure veterans and the disabled are well represented in the workforce—from billions in unneeded new regulatory costs.”

The Associated Builders and Contractors “has legal and practical concerns with the agency’s new rules and will explore avenues to challenge the rules in federal court,” said Geoff Burr, ABC vice president of government affairs.

Burr added in a statement, “Although industry studies show that individuals covered by these rules are already appropriately represented in the federal contracting sector, now contractors will be saddled with incredibly expensive record-keeping obligations that will do nothing to increase employment of these individuals.”

In particular, ABC points to requirements to document a contractor's employment statistics to show whether the percentage of "protected" employees adheres to affirmative-action requirements on federal projects. Sean Thurman, ABC director of legislative affairs, said those mandates are new to construction, adding that the industry to date has been exempt from such requirements because of the fluid nature of its work and workforce.

Veterans advocacy groups also weighed in on the rule.