Plans to hire disabled people part of overall hiring strategy

Friday - 5/6/2011, 5:09pm EDT

Christine Griffin, Deputy Director, OPM

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By Jolie Lee
Federal News RAdio

Agencies have submitted plans on hiring disabled people as part of an executive order from President Obama to hire 100,000 more people with disabilities governmentwide by 2015.

Overall, agencies have linked their disabled hiring plans to their human capital strategies, said Christine Griffin, deputy director of the Office of Personnel Management.

People with disabilities make up 5 percent of the federal workforce, Griffin said.

"I think agencies for the first time are really looking at their hiring plans, their outreach, their recruitment strategies and building in how they're going to increase their hiring of people with disabilities," Griffin said.

Agencies are also incorporating ideas to increase retention through development, training and promotions, Griffin added.

One of the challenges to disabled hiring - and hiring in general - are uncertain agency budgets. Some lawmakers have proposed bills that call for a federal hiring freeze, including one proposal that would extend an agency freeze until the budget deficit is eliminated.

"No matter how that plays out - if agencies are doing any hiring at all - they have an obligation that some of that includes people with disabilities," Griffin said.

OPM has offered some tools to help agencies hire disabled people, including a database of jobs candidates with disabilities. OPM contracted with a company that finds jobs for people with disabilities. The company does all of the outreach, recruitment and vetting of the people with disabilities, who include veterans, Griffin said.

OPM Director John Berry told Federal News Radio this week that one of the biggest hiring reform successes of the past year was hiring veterans, including hiring disabled vets. Although the government hired 11,000 less federal employees last year, it also hired more than 2,000 more veterans, Berry said. Overall, 30 percent of new hires were veterans last year, he said. Berry added that OPM had the highest percentage of disabled vets hiring of all agencies.