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In 2010, the President laid down a challenge to his Administration: hire 100,000 people with disabilities into the Federal workforce within five years. This was one of the many ways the President has demonstrated his strong commitment to broadening career opportunities for people with disabilities, and I’m happy to report we are making steady progress toward meeting that important goal.
With one year of data still to analyze, we are on track. From 2011 to 2014, the Federal government hired nearly 72,000 full-time permanent employees with disabilities. When we add in part-time permanent employees, the number is nearly 80,500. And, if we include temporary employees, the total is more than 115,000.
OPM’s latest report on the employment of people with disabilities shows that at the end of fiscal year 2014, there were more people with disabilities working in the Federal government – by percentage share and by real numbers – than at any time since we started record-keeping 34 years ago. In the past year alone, the share of people with disabilities in the Federal workforce went from 12.8 percent to 13.6 percent. Of the new hires of people with disabilities, 16.4 percent were at the GS 14 and 15 levels.
I’m proud of the work we have done with agencies across government to help make this happen. We are also looking to improve on these totals. We will share the data from fiscal year 2015 when it’s ready.
This important story is about more than numbers. By demonstrating our commitment to providing equal employment opportunities for Americans with disabilities, we are also tapping into a talent pool that enriches the 2-million strong Federal workforce.
In my view, we need people with disabilities in every agency and at every level of Federal service if the government is going to provide the excellent service that the American people expect and deserve. We cannot fulfill our mission without such diversity.
As encouraging as the numbers are, our work is not done. We need to make sure that after we hire these accomplished and motivated employees, they have opportunities for advancement. We need to do more to provide them with training and mentoring. We need to focus on retaining them in Federal service.
We’re holding leaders accountable. We’re working with agencies and affinity groups to build mentoring programs, because we know how important great mentors are to fostering confidence and success. And, we are committed to working with agencies in an effort to provide people with disabilities the reasonable accommodations they need to do their jobs.
I want to thank the team at OPM and all those throughout the Federal service who have been working diligently to fulfill the President’s vision of a workforce that is a model employer for people with disabilities. We will continue to make this effort a priority as we sustain and improve on these results.
Today, OPM released the “2012 Employment of People with Disabilities in the Federal Executive Branch Report.” This report has some very exciting news. At no point in the past 32 years have people with disabilities been hired at a higher percentage than in FY 2012. People with targeted disabilities are also being brought into the Federal workforce at a higher percentage now than at any time in the past 17 years. This success has led to more people with disabilities in Federal service, both in real terms and by percentage than at any time in the past 32 years.
We have made outstanding progress toward meeting the President’s goal of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities in 5 years (Executive Order 13548- Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities). I applaud my fellow Federal employees for their hard work and dedication. As I have said before, when we set the bar high, when we strive to push our own boundaries of thinking, we move the needle. And that is what we have done. By including more people with disabilities in the Federal workforce, we are stronger and better able to serve America.
Still, our work is not done. I want to encourage Federal employees and the disability community to continue the work of recruiting, retaining and including employees with disabilities at all levels of government. We must do more to recruit people with targeted disabilities and to make sure that we are retaining this talent. We must continue to build stronger pipelines into Federal service and ensure that we are cultivating and attracting the talent that we need so that -- from resume through retirement-- we have the strongest workforce possible.
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