Stop federal contractors from profiteering off people with disabilities
The AbilityOne® program is mandated to award federal contracts to employ people with disabilities. Last year those contracts totaled $2.8 billion. However, some of those contractors are not hiring enough people with significant disabilities to comply with their federal mandates, or, when they do, contractors are paying some disabled workers sub-minimum wages and overwhelmingly employing them in segregated environments – all while they rake in tens of millions of federal dollars for their executives.
Investigations by federal agencies and news media have alleged massive corruption in the AbilityOne program. According to sources who spoke with CNN, it’s “one of the worst cases of fraud and mismanagement they’ve ever seen in a federal agency.”
On September 15, 2015, the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), National Federation of the Blind (NFB), TASH, and United Spinal Association called for reform of AbilityOne.
Following is a summary:
- Ensure Transparency and Accountability - AbilityOne contract use of taxpayer funds must be transparent and readily available (online) to the public at every level, and an Inspector General must be appointed to provide rigorous oversight to ensure that the days of exploitation and fraud are brought to an end.
- End Workplace Segregation - AbilityOne must stop awarding contracts to companies that create “separate but equal” workplaces. People with disabilities must be supported to lead fully integrated lives in their own communities, including throughout their workday. Segregating people with disabilities violates the ADA and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead Decision.
- Pay Fair Wages - Some AbilityOne contractors are not paying people with disabilities the prevailing wage for the tasks they perform -- that must stop. Payment of subminimum wages to people with disabilities is intolerable in the United States.
- Provide Real Job Training - Contractors must be required to connect employees with supported or customized employment programs, additional training and other best practices that promote career building skills to seek integrated jobs in the community.
- Award Contracts to People with Disabilities - Rather than contracts going solely to service providers currently involved in the AbilityOne program, people with disabilities and disability-led organizations must be encouraged to compete for those contracts.
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