A bipartisan coalition of 100+ organizations and former Cabinet Members are calling on the President-Elect to sign on following Executive Order in his first 100 days of office. This Executive Order, developed by partner organization, RespectAbility, is a part of our initiative to increase representation of People with Disabilities in the Federal Government.
RESTORING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AS MODEL EMPLOYER OF WORKS WITH DISABILITIES
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to restore the Federal Government as a model employer of individuals with disabilities, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. One-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group and the only one that, due to an accident or illness, anyone can join at any time. The Federal Government has an important interest in reducing discrimination against Americans living with a disability, in eliminating the stigma associated with disability, and in encouraging Americans with disabilities to seek employment in the Federal workforce. Further the Federal workforce has the opportunity and the responsibility to fully reflect the diversity of lived experience from underrepresented communities across the country.
On July 26, 2010, President Obama signed Executive Order 13548. E.O. 13548 which committed the Federal Government to become a model employer of people with disabilities and directed Executive departments to develop plans to improve their processes for recruiting and hiring qualified individuals with disabilities. By the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 the Federal Government had exceeded the hiring goals created by E.O. 13548. As reported by the Government Accountability Office: “143,600 persons with disabilities were hired during 2011 through 2015—plus an additional 79,600 hires in 2016 and 2017—across the 24 Chief Financial Officers Act agencies.”
Additionally, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the years following the release of EO 13548, did much to implement Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act and ensure Section 501’s affirmative action and non-discrimination mandates. This new Executive Order creates the opportunity to ensure robust enforcement of relevant regulations, ensure more transparency around Section 501 implementation and foster data sharing across agencies.
However, much of the progress made during that time was lost in the years that followed. As captured by the Government Accountability Office (GAO): “About 39% of those with disabilities hired in 2011-2017 stayed less than a year, compared to about 43% of those without disabilities. About 60% of hires—both those with and without disabilities—stayed less than 2 years.”
Identifying the driving factors behind this loss of talent is difficult given gaps in data around retention and the limits of existing tracking efforts. The GAO report went on to note that “without routinely tracking and analyzing data on how long employees with disabilities remain employed in their agencies, federal managers are limited in their ability to assess the performance and effectiveness of the hiring and retention efforts put in place at their agencies.” Better use of agency-specific data, as documented in the annual MD 715 submissions collected by OPM, would allow for more informed policy making.
Past studies of private and public sector efforts around hiring workers with disabilities illustrate some of the reasons behind the lack of retention and the loss of disabled talent. As captured in an article published by the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, “ the three top-ranked reasons” for not retaining workers with disabilities includes “lack of awareness” of how to meet worker needs, concern that workers “acquiring disabilities will become liabilities” and “concern over the cost of accommodations.” Each of these issues can be addressed by purposeful action and dedicated training for hiring managers and agency supervisors.
Congressional leaders have previously expressed their concerns about gaps in federal hiring of workers with disabilities and a lack of data transparency by the previous administration. In a June 2019 letter from Senator Duckworth and Congressman Langevin, they noted “that the federal government is falling short in its efforts to hire more workers with targeted disabilities and, even more troubling, may be removing these workers during their probationary period at rates higher than those for nondisabled workers.”
Lastly, solutions to these critical issues require both agency leadership and buy-in from workers with disabilities themselves. In fact, the same GAO report quoted above identified the Department of Justice and the Social Security Administration as agencies that had outperformed other agencies at recruiting and retaining qualified workers with disabilities in recent years. One thing that distinguishes their efforts and offers lessons to agencies has been the creation of employee resource or advisory groups to support agency success.
Taken together, this represents a major loss of talent for the Federal workforce. It also represents an opportunity for the Federal Government to look internally at the policies, practices and processes involved with the recruitment, hiring and retention of qualified workers with disabilities. Further, there is a clear need for improvements in the training of supervisors and the accommodations process to support the success of Federal workers with disabilities.
The great challenges faced by our nation today require a governmental workforce that reflects the insights that people with disabilities bring to the table. This Administration is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in the Federal workforce and promote the retention of those individuals in compliance with Executive Order 13548 and specific goals defined therein.
Sec. 2. Recruitment and Hiring of Individuals with Disabilities.
(a) Within 60 days of the date of this order, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, the Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), shall design new recruitment and hiring strategies for federal agencies charging them to increase their employment of people with disabilities, to develop new training programs for agency hiring managers, human resources staff, and supervisors, and to review how agencies track and report retention data on employees with disabilities. The cumulative goal of these recruitment and hiring strategies will be 100,000 additional hires with disabilities. Further, to the extent possible, the strategies will work to ensure that the division of these jobs between the Senior Executive Service (SES), The Executive Service (ES) and General Schedule (GS) categories for mirrors the overall composition of the federal government.
(b) Within 120 days of the date that the OPM sets forth strategies and programs required under subsection (a), each agency shall develop an agency specific plan for promoting employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, assess the impact of training provided to agency hiring managers and human resources staff, and review procedures for obtaining employee feedback about the agency’s reasonable accommodations efforts.
The plan shall be developed in consultation with and, as appropriate, subject to approval by the Director of OPM and the Director of OMB, and shall, consistent with law, include performance targets and numerical goals for employment of individuals with disabilities and sub goals for employment of individuals with targeted disabilities as well as strategies for leveraging Executive Service (ES) and Senior Executive Service (SES) as an avenue for placing qualified senior leaders with disabilities and their proven allies into positions responsible for shaping policy that impact millions of Americans with disabilities.
(c) Each agency shall designate a senior-level agency official to be accountable for enhancing employment opportunities for qualified individuals with disabilities and individuals with targeted disabilities within the agency, consistent with law, and for meeting the goals of this order. This official, among other things, shall be accountable for developing and implementing the agency’s plan under subsection (b), creating recruitment and training programs for employment of individuals with disabilities and targeted disabilities, and coordinating employment counseling to help match the career aspirations of individuals with disabilities to the needs of the agency.
(d) In implementing their plans, agencies, to the extent permitted by law, shall increase utilization of the Federal Government’s Schedule A excepted service hiring authority for persons with disabilities and increase participation of individuals with disabilities in internships, fellowships, training opportunities, and mentoring programs. In support of this effort, the Director of OPM shall create a pre-vetted list of Schedule A eligible candidates on USAJOBS available to every federal agency. This list will be consulted by human resources prior to publicly posting any position, and, where permitted by law, candidates determined to be qualified should be considered before posting.
(e) OPM shall assist agencies with the implementation of their plans. The Director of OPM, in consultation with the Director of OMB, shall implement a system for reporting regularly to the President, the heads of agencies, and the public on agencies’ progress in implementing their plans and the objectives of this order. OPM, to the extent permitted by law, shall compile and post on its website Federal Government wide statistics on the hiring of individuals with disabilities.
Sec. 3. Increasing Agencies’ Retention and Return to Work of Individuals with Disabilities.
(a) Agencies must go beyond plans for recruitment and hiring, and systematically engage with, review and improve the collection of retention data, assess organizational cultures, climates for inclusive practices, review and assess reasonable accommodation efforts, and the impact of training provided to the hiring managers, human resources staff, and supervisors responsible for the implementation of this Executive Order. This review shall be ongoing and should be coupled with the implementation of the most successful retention and inclusive practices identified,. While this effort will be undertaken by each agency, several agencies will have key roles to play.
(b) The Director of OPM shall implement a process for collecting disability demographic data and make it available to agency leadership and the public, through a centralized online database that is updated monthly with hiring and rendition data. Each federal agency shall utilize the portal to analyze their efforts and report regularly to agency leadership on various trends impacting the successful implementation of the Executive Order.
(c) EEOC shall work with the relevant agency leaders to ensure that the process of providing reasonable accommodations includes the regular solicitation of feedback from workers accommodations and supervisors and managers who engage in providing accommodations and to use such information to evaluate potential improvements to the process.
(d) OPM in coordination with EEOC shall create and regularly disseminate government-wide disability inclusion trainings for managers and supervisors. Additionally, each agency shall create specific training, on the inclusion of people with disabilities, for hiring managers, human resources staff, and supervisors, and ensure that this training is a specific component of each agency’s planning process. Training materials and content should be specifically assessed for its impact on agency performance goals and hiring efforts for people with targeted and other disabilities. Training materials shall be shared across agencies to foster cooperation, collaboration and compatibility across the Federal Government.
(e) OPM will create exit surveys of departing workers. As such, exist surveys of workers with disclosed disabilities need to identify if accommodations are a factor in that departure and respond with further resources or training for supervisors and hiring managers.
Sec. 5. Establishment of the Interagency Coordinating Council on Federal Workers with Disabilities.
- There is hereby established, within the OPM for administrative purposes, the Interagency Coordinating Council on Federal Workers with Disabilities (“Interagency Coordinating Council” or “Council”).
- The membership of the Interagency Coordinating Council shall consist of:
- The Director of the Office of Personnel Management, the Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).
- The Senior Presidential advisor on disability
- The senior official responsible for inclusion of people with disabilities within each federal agency or department
- The Chair of the National Council on Disability
- Such other Federal officials as the Chairperson of the Council may designate.
- The Director of OPM, or the Director’s designee, shall serve as the Chairperson of the Council. The Chairperson shall convene and preside at meetings of the Council, determine its agenda, direct its work, and, as appropriate to particular subject matters, establish and direct operational working groups, comprised of senior Career staff from OPM and ODEP.
- This Council will embrace and expand upon the past work being done by the Federal Exchange on Employment and Disability (FEED) and advance information sharing, best practices and collaborative partnerships among federal agencies.
- A member of the Council may designate any person who is part of the member’s agency and who is an officer appointed by the President or a full-time employee serving in a position with pay equal to or greater than the minimum rate payable for GS–15 of the General Schedule to perform functions of the Council or its subgroups on the member’s behalf.
- The membership of the Interagency Coordinating Council shall consist of:
Sec. 5. Functions of the Interagency Coordinating Council on Federal Workers with Disabilities. The Interagency Coordinating Council shall:
- promote interagency cooperation and the establishment of appropriate mechanisms to support federal agencies as they work to develop new plans for the recruitment, hiring and retention of qualified individuals with disabilities and workers with targeted disabilities.
- facilitate opportunities for supervisors, hiring managers and agency leaders to learn from one another and find common solutions to key challenges.
- encourage robust enforcement of relevant regulations, ensure more transparency around Section 501 implementation and foster data sharing across agencies.
- formulate and implement administrative, policy, and procedural mechanisms that will meet the priorities and goals outlined in this Executive Order.
- develop and implement a method for monitoring progress on achieving the goals of this Executive Order.
Sec. 6. Definitions.
(a) “Disability” shall be defined as set forth in the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.
(b) “Targeted disability” shall be defined as set forth on the form for self-identification of disability, Standard Form 256 (SF 256), issued by the OPM, or any replacements, updates, or revisions thereto.
(c) Not less than 1 year after the date of this Order and in consultation with EEOC, DOC, and OMB, and OPM shall review the effectiveness of the definition of targeted disability set forth in SF 256 and replace, update, or revise it as appropriate.
Sec. 5. General Provisions.
- Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) Authority granted by law to a department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) Functions of the Director of OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations and shall not be construed to require any Federal employee to disclose disability status involuntarily
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
BY THE NUMBERS
With diversity in government, we can ensure that our leaders will have a variety of policies that take in consideration the needs of all Americans. For far too long, our leaders have failed to represent the rich diversity of our nation. It’s time for a more Inclusive America.
Less than 1% of senior-ranked executive positions are held by People with Disabilities.
1 in 4
One in 4 U.S. adults – 61 million Americans – identify as a Person with Disability.
12% is the minimum target the government has set to hire People with Disabilities.