February 22, 2019
SCOPE AND PURPOSE: In this first of a two-part series, NCD assesses the AbilityOne Program and the work of the AbilityOne Commission in the context of federal disability law and policy. The program is centered on the requirements that federal agencies must purchase goods and services from the AbilityOne Program if contained on a procurement list approved and updated by the Commission, and that people who are blind or have a severe disability account for at least 75 percent of the direct labor hours used to provide the service or produce the goods. Since 2013, the program has come under scrutiny from the press, the Government Accountability Office, and Congress for a lack of rigorous oversight and transparency.
In this brief study, NCD finds that the current structure and implementation of the AbilityOne Program calls into question whether people who are blind or have a severe disability are best served by the program. NCD recommends that more in-depth independent research into the impact of the program be conducted, and that Congress make necessary changes so that the program better aligns with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and other federal disability laws and policies which seek the full participation of people with disabilities, including employment and advancement opportunities within the community.