April 17, 2005


Bush's 'Competitive Sourcing' Worries Disabled Workers: Initiative May Put Employees With Special Needs At a Decided Disadvantage, Their Advocates Say (Christopher Lee, April 18, 2005, Washington Post)

David Goodman, a clerk at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, is caught between two conflicting federal policies, one that helped him get his federal job 14 years ago and another that soon may take it away.

Goodman, 34, has autism, a developmental disability that affects the brain and impairs a person's social skills and reasoning. He landed his job in NIH's Occupational Health and Safety Division in 1991 as a "Schedule A" appointee, the beneficiary of long-standing government policies that promote the employment of people with disabilities in federal agencies.

"It's a nice job. I like the people that work there. They are nice to me," said Goodman, who works from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. every weekday and lives independently in an apartment in Rockville.

Last month, his family learned that Goodman is among tens of thousands of federal employees, the vast majority of them not disabled, whose agencies are evaluating whether their jobs could be performed better and more cheaply by a private contractor. It is all part of President Bush's "competitive sourcing" initiative, which requires civil servants across the government to prove they can do their work more efficiently than private contractors, or risk seeing the work outsourced.

The initiative has thrown a scare into many federal workers, who are anxious about whether they will be forced to go to work for a private contractor or find themselves with no job at all. But the policy is especially vexing for employees with disabilities and their advocates. They fear that a strict economic comparison puts such workers at a decided disadvantage because they often require more supervision and extra help, and therefore cost more to employ.

It's typical that they focus here on what even the author acknowledges is a rather marginal effect of the reform.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 17, 2005 11:53 PM

Watt's World?

Industrial Revolution? Interior Secretary's (reported) comments on diversity?

Posted by: ghostcat at April 18, 2005 12:51 AM

More costly to employ, but I thought there were tax credits to offset that???

Posted by: Sandy P at April 18, 2005 1:36 AM

"World Ends; Women, Minorities Devestated"

Posted by: Chris B at April 18, 2005 8:17 AM

It's a common trick. Recent legislation to tighten up the voting rules here in WA was voted down on a party line vote. My Democratic Representative explained in her newsletter that there are people who are so old and senile they can't remember where they were born and so can't get an ID to show at the polls. Others are disabled and find it too difficult to get the required ID. This is ridiculous, but it is the party line. It is more important that these persons are not "disenfranchised" than that we stop the fraud. She also explained that the issue was just too complicated, so they have decided to punt.

Posted by: Pat H at April 18, 2005 3:12 PM