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Disability Employment

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 infographic accompanies the FY2014 Report on the Employment of Individuals with Disabilities in the Federal Executive Branch.   Title:  The President's Challenge: Hire 100,000 People with Disabilities in 5 Years   Middle section: From 2011 to 2014: •	71,967 full-time permanent employees with disabilities •	80,469 full-time and part-time permanent employees with disabilities •	115,221 all permanent and temporary employees with disabilities  Bottom section:  Transforming Leadership: 16.4% of new hires of people with disabilities were GS-14s and GS-15s  Visual in the bottom right corner is a stylized organization chart of one larger human icon with three smaller human icons as subordinates.   The bottom of the page contains the main URL:   OPM.GOV 

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.

My passion for building a Federal workforce that looks like the America we serve is not just about numbers. It is about the American people benefiting from the talent, the wisdom, the experience, and the insights of people from every community in this great country. We need that diversity at every level and at every decision table.

In August 2011, the President issued an executive order that called for a government-wide coordinated effort to promote diversity and inclusion within the Federal workforce. The President’s Management Agenda builds on that commitment.

At the Office of Personnel Management, we work every day to help agencies build a workforce that reflects the bright mosaic of the American people. We know we must work equally hard to be sure that once hired, employees feel included and engaged at all levels of government. Although we know there’s still much work to do, the data shows us that we are making progress on the President’s vision.

For example, four years ago, the President set a goal of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities. I am proud to say that we are more than half way toward reaching that milestone. In fact, OPM’s latest report on the employment of people with disabilities shows that the Federal Government has hired people with disabilities at a higher rate than at any time in the past 33 years.

Our data also shows a steady increase in making our Senior Executive Service more diverse. For example, in 2009, women represented just 31 percent of the SES. Today, they make up 34 percent of these senior leadership positions. We’re also making progress in improving representation along all racial and ethnic lines.

OPM is expanding the data we collect through the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to capture information from employees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. As more LGBT employees self-identify through this powerful tool, agencies will be better equipped to support this important part of our Federal family.

OPM is providing agencies with the tools, strategies, and guidance to help them continue this progress. This week, OPM unveiled the REDI Roadmap, which stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion, and is designed to make sure that across government, we are using the latest data-driven expertise, digital tools, and collaborative thinking to continue to build, develop, and engage a talented and diverse workforce, now and for years to come.

REDI reflects OPM’s commitment to the President’s vision of ensuring that all segments of society are represented and feel included at every level of America's workforce. You can learn more about the new REDI Roadmap at

This post was originally featured on the White House Blog.

Snippet of data from the REDI Report available at


This Saturday, July 26, marks the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a day for us to celebrate the tremendous contributions of people with disabilities to our country. From classrooms in Sacramento to buses in Denver to sidewalks here in the District of Columbia, this landmark legislation makes sure that Americans with disabilities are guaranteed full access and the same opportunities promised to all Americans.

On July 26, 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13548, Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, to mark the historic 20th anniversary of the signing of the ADA. His order says that the Federal government, as the nation's largest employer, must become a model for the employment of individuals with disabilities.

We have made great progress toward fulfilling the President’s vision. There are more people with disabilities in Federal service than at any time in the past 33 years. The talents, the experiences and the expertise of employees with disabilities are an indispensable part of the Federal workforce. At all levels and in every profession, the contributions of people with disabilities enrich the Federal government. Our nation is absolutely stronger because of their dedication and service.

Yet our work is not done. We must do more to recruit people with targeted disabilities. We must continue our efforts to hire and retain employees with disabilities at all levels of government -- from resume through retirement -- so that we have the strongest workforce possible.

To support Federal employees in this effort, OPM, in consultation with partner agencies, has launched an online course entitled, “A Roadmap to Success: Hiring, Retaining and Including People with Disabilities.” The course, which will be available to agencies at no cost on HR University, provides basic information and resources to help employees and managers hire, retain and advance Federal workers with disabilities. In accordance with the Executive Order, this training will be required for human resources personnel and hiring managers.

Today, let all of us recommit to building an inclusive, vibrant and powerful workforce that reflects the bright mosaic of the American people we serve.

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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