Agencies Increase Disability Hiring But GAO Says More Retention Data Needed

The Government Accountability Office looked at federal agencies’ efforts to hire and retain individuals with disabilities.

Agencies hired about 143,600 persons with disabilities from 2011-2015—exceeding the federal target of 100,000. Agencies made an additional 79,600 hires in 2016 and 2017.

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.

GAO made 6 recommendations, including that the Office of Personnel Management track and report retention data of employees with disabilities to help determine why they leave.

Although targeted data tracking and analyses could help pinpoint root causes contributing to departure rates, OPM does not track or report retention data on disabled employees. Doing so, and making such data available to agencies would facilitate more comprehensive analyses of the retention of employees with disabilities and identify needed improvements.

Officials at three agencies GAO examined—Department of Justice (DOJ), Small Business Administration (SBA), and Social Security Administration (SSA)—used various practices to increase hiring, such as training staff on Schedule A—a commonly used hiring authority to employ individuals with disabilities. However, the agencies neither assess the impact of training nor how it relates to contributing to performance goals of increasing the number of disabled hires.

Agencies are expected to track performance related to providing reasonable accommodations. The selected agencies reported having processes in place for receiving reasonable accommodations requests, but only SSA has procedures for obtaining feedback from employees after an accommodation is provided. Without such feedback, DOJ and SBA are limited in their ability to assess the continued effectiveness of reasonable accommodations provided to employees.

Read the GAO report

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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