AbilityOne Contracting Goal
The AbilityOne® Program is among the nation’s largest providers of jobs for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. This program uses the purchasing power of the federal government to buy products and services from participating nonprofit agencies that train and employ workers with disabilities. Despite being one of the oldest socioeconomic programs in the United States, the program is underutilized within the federal government. A statutory goal would empower and incentivize agencies within the federal government to consider AbilityOne solutions and would create new employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities as well as veterans with disabilities.
A goal would be consistent with other socioeconomic goals established by Congress that have achieved results and would increase accountability and foster greater utilization of AbilityOne products and services. While other federal socioeconomic procurement programs (Small Businesses; Small Disadvantaged Businesses; Women-Owned Small Businesses; Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses; and Historically Underutilized Business Zones) have grown by tens of billions of dollars over the last decade, the AbilityOne Program has remained relatively stagnant over the same period.
BackgroundIn Fiscal Year 2022, federal agencies awarded $3.76 billion in AbilityOne Program contracts. While noteworthy, AbilityOne contracting only equated to 0.555 percent of total federal procurement in Fiscal Year 2022, and there has been minimal growth in the program over the last decade. The Department of Defense (DoD) is the largest customer of the AbilityOne Program, purchasing over $2.5 billion in products and services annually and creating employment for approximately 30,000 people who are blind or have significant disabilities.
The Panel on Department of Defense and AbilityOne Contracting Oversight, Accountability, and Integrity, established under Section 898 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, delivered its fourth and final report to Congress in December 2021. One of the panel’s recommendations was the establishment of a contracting goal to increase employment for people with significant disabilities and veterans with disabilities through the AbilityOne Program, which would create tens of thousands of new employment opportunities for people with disabilities.