Obama orders agencies to increase hiring of disabled into federal workforce

Reviving a Clinton-era hiring goal, President Obama on July 26 signed an executive order instructing federal agencies to increase employment of people with disabilities by adding 100,000 disabled employees over the next five years.

The 100,000-employee goal was part of a July 2000 executive order signed by President Clinton. However, little was done to implement that order, Obama said, and disabled employees continue to make up just a small fraction of the federal workforce today.

“As the nation's largest employer, the federal government must become a model for the employment of individuals with disabilities,” Obama said. “Executive departments and agencies must improve their efforts to employ workers with disabilities through increased recruitment, hiring and retention of these individuals. My administration is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in the federal workforce.”

Within 60 days, the Office of Personnel Management—along with the secretary of labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the director of the Office of Management and Budget—must come up with strategies for recruiting and hiring people with disabilities. OPM also is tasked with developing mandatory training programs on the employment of people with disabilities.

Agencies also will be required to develop their own plans for promoting employment opportunities for disabled individuals. The plans must include performance targets and numerical goals for employment of individuals with disabilities, and sub-goals for employment of individuals with targeted disabilities. The order directed OPM to work with agencies in implementing the strategies.

Under the order, workers injured on the job also will get an extra hand. The order mandates that agencies do a better job of helping injured or sick workers return to work, and of removing barriers that prevent Federal Employees’ Compensation Act claimants from getting back to their jobs. The order instructed OPM develop better return-to-work strategies, even if it meant reforming the FECA system.

“Today, only 5 percent of the federal workforce is made up of Americans with disabilities—far below the proportion of Americans with disabilities in the general population,” Obama said. “So we’re going to boost recruitment, we’re going to boost training, we’re going to boost retention. “

To see more, go to: www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/executive-order-increasing-federal-employment-individuals-with-disabilities.

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