OPM eases burden to hire people with disabilities

Thursday - 2/21/2013, 4:43pm EST

Agencies seeking to hire people with disabilities no longer have to ask for a "certification of job readiness."

A final rule scheduled to be published tomorrow in the Federal Register by the Office of Personnel Management codifies this major change with a goal of making the hiring of people with disabilities easier and more efficient.

"The regulation removes an unnecessary burden for these individuals when applying for federal jobs and modernizes the terminology used to describe people with disabilities," OPM stated in the final rule.

OPM said the advantages of eliminating the certification requirement outweigh any potential disadvantages.

"One commenter noted that the certification had been 'a source of delay and red tape' in the past and that this change was long overdue," the final rule stated. "One disability advocacy group stated that removing the certification of job readiness would both normalize and improve the timeliness of the hiring process. A professional organization agreed with both of the proposed changes. It noted that there had been confusion regarding the meaning of 'job readiness.'"

OPM issued the proposed rule in February 2012 as part of the follow up to President Barack Obama's May 2010 memo calling for the elimination of unnecessary complexities and inefficiencies in the federal hiring process. The President called for agencies to hire 100,000 people with disabilities by 2015.

OPM reported in July 2012, people with disabilities comprised 11 percent of the federal workforce in fiscal 2011, a slight increase over 2010. The annual report found people with disabilities represented 14.7 percent — 18,738 employees — of the entire federal workforce.

OPM has taken other steps to make the hiring of people with disabilities easier.

In November 2010, OPM began implementing Obama's memo by creating a database of pre-qualified candidates who are eligible under Schedule A for agencies to hire without competition. It also developed online training on how best to use Schedule A and a broader training course aimed at both federal HR managers and applicants.

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