Nov. 23, 2020
WASHINGTON—Chairman of the National Council on Disability (NCD) addressed Defense Department leaders on the government-wide impact of funding cuts to an accessibility program for people with disabilities.
In a letter to Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller and Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Matthew P. Donovan, NCD Chairman Neil Romano encouraged reconsideration of the recent budget cut made to the DOD-housed Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP).
“I recommend that this cut to CAP’s budget be delayed for one year and that you join NCD in seeking alternative options, including approaching Congress to instead call for additional funding,” wrote Romano.
Reasonable accommodations are required by law under the Rehabilitation Act (29 USC §794). CAP recently became a procurement resource funded only to provide assistive technology to DOD employees, and active duty Service members.
In the letter Romano acknowledged the importance of the program.
“There is no doubt that the DOD deserves thanks for the decades it has been helping to provide reasonable accommodations to countless federal employees across the federal government.”
CAP had partnership agreements in place with 70 non-DOD federal agencies. The partnership meant that it, in effect, was serving as a centralized accommodation provider for those partner agencies.
“The Federal Government’s ability to provide reasonable accommodations to its employees with disabilities is a fundamental obligation and is also aligned with the goals of hiring and retaining a qualified federal workforce,” wrote Romano.
Delays in obtaining accommodations can have an adverse effect on recruitment and retention of employees with disabilities.
“The inability of non-DOD agencies to use CAP as a way of providing accommodations to employees with disabilities after years of doing so marks a significant departure for those employees and the agencies that have relied on CAP for so long,” he wrote.
Romano recommended that DoD not cut CAP’s ability to serve the larger federal workforce, but work with NCD in approaching Congress to pass funding bills allowing a centralized accommodation fund for federal workers that each federal agency can contribute to.
“NCD acknowledges and continues to be grateful for the service of the DOD and CAP in helping federal government employees with disabilities obtain reasonable accommodations, and we believe our recommendations will be useful in that continued endeavor.”
Read the full letter at NCD.gov