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Focus on Disabilities: Making the President's Vision Come to Life

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Four years ago, President Obama signed an executive order stressing the importance of hiring people with disabilities into 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 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 2013, 18 percent of new federal hires were people with disabilities, a 1.9 percent increase over fiscal 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.

One of the things I love best about being director of OPM is that I get to meet some of the dedicated and amazingly talented people who are devoting their lives to public service.

Let me tell you about Cynthia Hamilton, who works here at OPM. Cynthia came to us as an intern during her senior year at Gallaudet University, where she was finishing her degree in business management. When she graduated, Cynthia was able to move right into a full-time job as a human resources specialist. But she wasn’t sure whether the federal government would accommodate her needs. Not only is Cynthia doing a great job, some of her colleagues at OPM have taken American Sign Language classes. She now wants to become a manager and let others who are deaf and hard of hearing know what’s possible in federal service.  And she wants to see more people with disabilities get hired. So do I.

We need and we will hire more people like Cynthia, and we know we still have so much work to do. Our commitment to hiring, developing, and retaining more people with disabilities is not just about the numbers. It’s about making sure that we have a rich diversity of thought, of expertise, of experience, and of perspective throughout the government. 

As OPM director, I am committed to making sure that the federal government is a model employer. And that means our workforce must reflect the rich mosaic of the American people we serve.

I’m proud of the progress we have made. Stay tuned. There is more to come.

(Image via fotogestoeber/Shutterstock.com)

Katherine Archuleta is former 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. 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.

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