News & Events
April 30, 2013
U.S. AbilityOne Commission® FY2012 Annual Report Published
Washington, D.C., April 30, 2013 – The U.S. AbilityOne Commission® today released its FY2012 Annual Report to the public. Published under the theme “AbilityOne-People Above All,” the report chronicles key highlights of the AbilityOne Program in the past year, and features 14 profiles of exemplary individuals who are blind or have significant disabilities and are employed through the AbilityOne® Program. The publication also highlights the 75th anniversary celebration of the AbilityOne Program’s founding legislation which runs through October 2013.
AbilityOne is the single largest source of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities and currently provides employment opportunities to more than nearly 50,000 people nationwide. The Program is administered by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission®, an independent Federal agency, with assistance from National Industries for the Blind (NIB), and NISH-Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Significant Disabilities.
To view the U.S. AbilityOne Commission FY2012 Annual Report, click here.
March 29, 2013
AbilityOne Producing Agencies Win Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Food Service Awards
Washington, D.C., March 29, 2013 – AbilityOne® Authorized Providers recently won three out of four awards for land-based food service operations in the U.S. Navy’s 2013 Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Food Service Awards.
The Ney Awards, co-sponsored by the International Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA) encourage excellence in Navy Food Service Programs with the objective of improving the quality of life for Navy personnel.
AbilityOne is the single largest source of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities and currently provides employment opportunities to nearly 50,000 people nationwide. NISH (www.nish.org) is one of two national nonprofit agencies designated by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission® to support nonprofit agencies participating in the AbilityOne Program.
To view the full announcement, visit http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/reference/messages/Documents/ALNAVS/ALN2013/ALN13019.txt
February 20, 2013
U.S. AbilityOne Commission Highest Honor Call for Nominations
Washington, D.C., February 20, 2013 – Today the U.S. AbilityOne CommissionTM announces its call for nominations for the E.R. "Dick" Alley Career Achievement Award (Alley Award). The Commission is the independent Federal agency which leads and administers the AbilityOne® Program, the single largest source of employment in the United States, providing employment opportunities to nearly 50,000 people who are blind or have significant disabilities nationwide. The Alley Award is the highest honor the Commission bestows on a Federal employee.
The award was established in 1998 in honor and memory of Dick Alley, who provided more than 25 years of dedicated service to the AbilityOne Program as the Deputy Executive Director of the Commission staff. The award recognizes extraordinary achievements and sustained efforts of individuals in utilizing the Federal procurement system to create AbilityOne employment and training opportunities for people who are blind or have significant disabilities.
Only one Alley Award is given each year. Eligibility and criteria information can be found online at www.abilityone.gov. Nominations, which must be submitted in an accessible electronic format (i.e., Word, Word Perfect or accessible Adobe PDF), must be submitted to email@example.com by March 15, 2013.
The 2013 Alley Award recipient will formally be presented the award at both the NISH National Training and Achievement Conference in May 2013, and the National Industries for the Blind National Training Conference in October 2013.
January 30, 2013
First AbilityOne Executive Director Passed Away at 92
Washington, DC, January 30, 2013 – It is with a great sense of loss that the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, which operates as the U.S. AbilityOne CommissionTM, acknowledges the passing of its former and first Executive Director, Charles William Fletcher, BG (Ret) US Army. A life-long humanitarian and proponent of people who are blind or have significant disabilities, Fletcher died on January 2, 2013. He was 92.
After graduating from West Point in 1941 and engaging in a prestigious 30-year military career, Fletcher became the first Executive Director of the independent Federal agency now known as the U.S. AbilityOne Commission. The Commission administers the AbilityOne® Program, the largest source of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities in the United States.
“For nearly two decades Charlie Fletcher served with distinction as the first Executive Director of the U.S. AbilityOne Program,” said Tina Ballard, current U.S. AbilityOne Commission Executive Director. “His willingness to open new doors of opportunity for people who are blind or have significant disabilities set a high bar for subsequent Executive Directors. We collectively thank him for what he did to advance the program mission and improve the lives of the population we serve.”
During his 17-year tenure, Fletcher tirelessly dedicated himself to providing jobs to people who were blind or had significant disabilities through the manufacture of products and services for the Federal Government, under the auspices of the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act (the enabling legislation for the AbilityOne® Program). By the time of his retirement from civil service, he left the program with a then-record-high 13.5 direct labor hours and $58.7 million in wages paid. The program minimum wage was $4.61, slightly higher than the prevailing wage of that period in time. From 1971-1988, he was a driving force in increasing program employment from 4,000 to nearly 20,000 people who were blind or had severe disabilities.
“In addition to his program accomplishments, Charlie Fletcher was also known to his staff as a kind, warm-hearted individual, who will be missed dearly,” said Ballard.
December 18, 2012
Department of Defense Contract Will Create More Than 200 New Jobs for People with Disabilities through the AbilityOne Program
Contract will focus on providing opportunities for wounded warriors.
Vienna, VA – Dec. 18, 2012 – NISH--Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Significant Disabilities, announced today that one of its member nonprofit agencies has received a $120 million five-year contract to consolidate units of the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) which supports all Defense Human Resources Systems. The contract will be serviced through InspiriTec, Inc. under the Federal AbilityOne® Program and over the next several years will create around 240 jobs at Fort Knox, KY, for wounded warriors and people with significant disabilities.
The DMDC supports active duty, Reserve, Guard and retired military members and their families, as well as civilian contractors who work at the Department of Defense (DOD). The call center serves to verify military benefits as well as providing identity management for the DOD. Originally, this contract was serviced by three call centers in different locations. This consolidation will not only save money by eliminating overlaps, but will also increase customer satisfaction by having a “one stop” approach to customer service.
“This contract award is an affirmation of the potential of people with disabilities to perform at a high level when given the opportunity and support to succeed,” said John Connolly, president & CEO of InspiriTec. “We are especially pleased to be working with the disabled veterans and wounded warriors’ community as we look to staff several contact centers and help desk analyst positions.”
Currently, InspiriTec manages a Human Resources Contact Center for the U.S. Army at Fort Knox where all employees are wounded warriors or people with significant disabilities. Given that AbilityOne’s turnover rate is one-third that of commercial sector service providers, this contract is projected to provide higher quality and productivity rates for our service members. Moreover, this contract provides wounded warriors an opportunity to continue to contribute to their military community.
“Working in this military environment allows me to utilize my military skills and experiences. This job gives me a real sense of accomplishment and provides me a chance to take care of others again like I did in the Army,” said Jeff, a customer service representative at InspiriTec in Fort Knox. “I hope other vets with disabilities will hear my story and see what’s possible.”
DOD Human Resources Activity created the DMDC in 2009 to consolidate the three separate contact centers: the Personnel Security Assurance Help Desk, the DMDC Support Center and the DMDC Support Office. The goal is to provide a single contact experience for the customer that will eliminate overlap and maximize customer satisfaction.
“The Department of Defense needed a solution. Through the AbilityOne Program in collaboration with InspiriTec we were able to provide one. This contract will not only represent 20% to 30% savings for the DOD, but also a huge increase in productivity,” said Bob Chamberlin, president and CEO of NISH. “Furthermore, together we are all working to achieve our shared mission to ensure that people with disabilities are given the opportunity to achieve upward mobility and professional success, and contribute with their skills not only to the workforce but also to their communities.”
AbilityOne is the largest single source of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities and currently provides employment opportunities to more than 50,000 people nationwide. NISH (www.nish.org) is one of two national, nonprofit agencies designated by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission™ to support nonprofit agencies participating in the AbilityOne Program.
New employees at Inspiritec will join the more than 131,000 people with significant disabilities who are already employed through NISH affiliated nonprofit agencies across the country.
November 28, 2012
Survey Shows Greater Acceptance, Confidence and Support for Employing People Who are Blind or Have Significant Disabilities
Private Sector and Individuals, Along with the Federal Government and Nonprofits,
Have Important Roles to Play.
WASHINGTON, DC, November 28, 2012 – According to a survey released today by the U.S. AbilityOne CommissionTM, Americans have growing confidence in the work capabilities of people who are blind or have significant disabilities, and they support programs such as the AbilityOne® Program even more strongly than results revealed in a similar study conducted in 2009.
Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the AbilityOne Program is a public-private partnership through which community-based nonprofit agencies training people who are blind or have a significant disability can develop and deliver products and services for the U.S. government. More than nine out of every 10 Americans believe the Federal Government should support employment opportunities for people who are blind or have significant disabilities.
In this year’s study, nearly half of all (48 percent) respondents reported knowing a family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker who is blind or has significant disabilities. Survey respondents resoundingly affirmed the importance of across-the-board support for the AbilityOne Program and its mission. The study also reveals a growing awareness of both general and employment-specific challenges and opportunities for Americans who are blind or have significant disabilities.
“As we start our year-long 75th anniversary celebration and awareness campaign, we are using this survey to increase the American public’s awareness of the AbilityOne Program. We ask that the private sector join government and nonprofit communities to support the AbilityOne Program and its mission by employing these very capable individuals,” said J. Anthony Poleo, Chairperson, U.S. AbilityOne Commission. “Awareness and education are fundamental precursors to shifting the employment figures for these highly capable yet chronically underemployed individuals in a positive and meaningful way.”
In fact, the unemployment rate for working-age persons who are blind or have a disability is disproportionately high, and fewer than 32 percent participate in the labor force at all, compared to nearly 77 percent of their peers who are not blind or have a disability.
More specifically, highlights of this year’s survey include:
75th Anniversary Website Launched
October 23, 2012
Largest Single Source of Training and Employment for Americans Who are Blind or have Significant Disabilities.
WASHINGTON, DC, October 23, 2012 – The U.S. AbilityOne CommissionTM today announced the start of a year-long 75th anniversary celebration for the AbilityOne® Program and the enactment of the landmark legislation that created it.
“The AbilityOne Program is a shining example of government at its best – bringing together nonprofits, businesses and government agencies to honor our nation’s most treasured resource,” said J. Anthony “Tony”Poleo, Chairman, AbilityOne Commission and Chief Financial Officer, Defense Logistics Agency. “We felt it fitting to celebrate the 75th anniversary for an entire year and in doing so, tell the amazing AbilityOne story.” In the coming months, the AbilityOne Program will celebrate its long and proud history, sharing the remarkable stories of its employees, and paying tribute to its partners, while educating the country about the model program.
Under the theme “AbilityOne: It Works!” the celebration begins this week with distribution of the annual edition of AbilityOne Magazine. “In addition to chronicling the history of the AbilityOne Program, the publication highlights some of the employees, advocates, partners, products and services that make AbilityOne a resounding success,” said Tina Ballard, Executive Director and CEO of the U.S. AbilityOne Commission. Throughout the year, a wide variety of AbilityOne success stories from across the country will be shared, an AbilityOne 75th anniversary microsite will be launched, and special events will be held, culminating in October, 2013 with a reception commemorating the signing of the original founding legislation.
People who have disabilities are the most chronically underemployed segment of working-age Americans. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics — 2011, there are 15 million working-age Americans with disabilities. Many are willing and able to work, yet nearly 70 percent do not have jobs, compared to 23 percent of those with no disability.
The AbilityOne Program can be traced back to 1938, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Wagner-O’Day Act directing the Federal government to purchase products made by individuals who are blind. The act, now known as the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act, was amended in 1971 to include people with severe disabilities to participate, and called for the provision of services to the federal government.
The AbilityOne Program is a Federal initiative to help people who are blind or have significant disabilities find employment by working within a national network of more than 600 nonprofit agencies that develop and sell products and services to the U.S. government. Today, the Program, administered by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission in partnership with National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and NISH – Creating Opportunities for People with Significant Disabilities, is the single largest source of training and employment for Americans who are blind or have significant disabilities, employing more than 50,000 Americans, including 3,000 veterans and wounded warriors.