Building a Workforce That Reflects the People We Serve

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Photo of Katherine Archuleta, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management
By Guest Blogger Katherine Archuleta, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Four years ago, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order (E.O.) stressing the importance of hiring people with disabilities in the federal government. He set a goal of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities. I am proud to say that we are more than halfway toward reaching that milestone.

The Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) latest report on the employment of people with disabilities shows that the federal government has hired people with disabilities at a higher rate than at any time in the past 33 years. In fiscal year 2013, 18 percent of new federal hires were people with disabilities, a 1.9 percent increase over fiscal year 2012. In the first three years of enacting the E.O., we have hired a total of 57,491 permanent employees with disabilities. Because of the hard work and dedication of federal employees and the disability community, we have made outstanding progress toward meeting the President’s goal.

But the E.O. on hiring people with disabilities is one of many initiatives aimed at building a workforce that reflects the bright mosaic of the American people we serve. It is strengthened by President Obama’s efforts to increase the number of veterans serving in the federal government. It is bolstered by the President’s POWER Initiative, which ensures reemployment of people injured in the workplace. And it is a critical component of OPM’s new Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Roadmap, which reflects our commitment to the People and Culture pillar of the President’s Management Agenda.

Working with OPM, the White House, the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor and others, agencies across the federal government have developed many innovative and promising practices that are enhancing employment of people with disabilities. The work is getting done because agencies are taking this seriously.

We are determined to ensure that all federal hiring managers are able to recruit and hire Schedule A employees frequently and effectively. Here are a few specific examples of how we’re making this happen:

Agencies are making training and education of their current employees – especially HR employees – a top priority.
Employees from more than 56 agencies have been trained on recruitment techniques, how to grant reasonable accommodations and about the Department of Defense’s Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program.
OPM launched a free online course that provides basic information and resources about how to hire, retain and advance employees with disabilities. All employees are invited to take it and HR professionals and hiring managers are required.
Of course, if you qualify for Schedule A hiring, you probably want to know how you go about using it. Agencies work hard to make sure that the disability community knows the steps that need to be taken to land a federal job through Schedule A. Here is a simple breakdown of how to go about the job search process:

First, get a “Proof of Disability” letter from a licensed medical professional, a certified vocational rehabilitation professional or the agency that provides you with disability benefits. It’s a crucial piece of the process.
The journey then continues to USAJOBS.gov. There you can identify the jobs that match your skills and experience, and that you may qualify for.
Prepare your resume and any other required documents, such as a college transcript.
Once you are ready to apply, be sure to note in the application that you are eligible to be considered under Schedule A.
You can often upload your “Proof of Disability” documentation through the application tool. You can also email it to the HR contact listed on the job announcement. And you can send it to the agency’s selective placement program coordinator, who you can find on our website.
We are in the process of making improvements to USAJOBS and the application process to make it simpler and as user-friendly as possible. As we work to improve the website, we’re keeping in mind the needs of people with disabilities. We want to get this right for you.

We know our work with the disability community is not done. We must do more to recruit people with targeted disabilities. We must continue our efforts to hire and retain employees with disabilities at all levels of government – from resume through retirement – so that we have the strongest workforce possible.

As OPM Director, I am committed to making sure that the federal government is a model employer for people with disabilities. I hope you’ll join me at 1:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 5 as I host a live event to kick off our new REDI Roadmap. To learn more, check out www.opm.gov/REDI.

About the Guest Blogger

Katherine Archuleta is the director of the Office of Personnel Management. She is the first Latina to lead the agency and has dedicated herself to being a champion of a diverse, engaged and inclusive federal workforce. Director Archuleta began her career in public service as a school teacher in Denver. She has worked for two Denver mayors, founded nonprofit organizations and was a key administrator for the departments of Transportation, Energy and Labor. You can follow Director Archuleta at @OPMDirector.

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