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AbilityOne Employment for People with Disabilities

  • Publish Date : 2010/05/06 - (Rev. 2016/11/06)
  • Author : Thomas C. Weiss
  • Contact : Disabled World


The Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled is the Federal agency that is authorized to administer the AbilityOne Program.

Main Document

The year 1938 found Congress creating a program that enabled agencies servicing people who were blind to sell products to the federal government. By the time the year 1971 rolled around, the original Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act was amended to permit people with additional severe forms of disabilities to benefit as well.

The Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled is the Federal agency that is authorized to administer the AbilityOne Program. The Committee has the responsibility for determining which products and services are suitable to be placed on its Procurement List for the federal government. The Committee also determines the fair market prices for the items on the Procurement List.

The Committee

The amendment of the Javits-Wagner-O-Day Act in 1971 found the creation of the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, an independent federal agency that administers the AbilityOne program, being created. The Committee is comprised of fifteen Presidentially-appointed members, eleven of whom are representatives of governmental agencies such as the Departments of Agriculture, Army, Air Force, Defense, Commerce, Justice, Education, Labor, Navy, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the General Services Administration. The remaining four members are private citizens who are knowledgeable about the employment issues faced by persons who are blind or experience additional forms of severe disabilities, to include those who are employed by nonprofit agencies affiliated with the AbilityOne Program.

The Committee has designated two central, 'NPA's,' that have the goal of assisting with program implementation. These NPA's are the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and NISH - Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Severe Disabilities. Greater than six-hundred NPA's associated with either NIB or NISH produce both products and services through the AbilityOne program. The main criteria for NPA eligibility is that seventy-five percent of the total labor hours have to be performed by persons who are blind, or have additional forms of severe disabilities.


NISH, or Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Severe Disabilities, provides employment opportunities for persons with severe forms of disabilities through federal contracts for both goods and services. The NISH network supports greater than five-hundred and fifty NPA's and their federal customers through provision of legislative and regulatory assistance, marketing materials, communications, engineering and technical assistance, information technology support, and extensive professional training.


The National Industries for the Blind (NIB) has achieved some highly-notable milestones in the decades of its existence. Since the year 1938, the NIB has enhanced both the economic and personal independence of people who are blind through creation of employment opportunities. Under its brand name SKILCRAFT, the NIB and its associated agencies supply federal customers with a selection of greater than three-thousand high-quality products. The NIB's customers find themselves with a dependable workforce, as well as the ability to take advantage of the value and quality of the products and services produced through the program. NIB workers are capable, bringing exceptional and award-winning work ethics to every single one of their projects.

The AbilityOne Apparel and Equipage has received awards and recognition. AbilityOne was named, 'Grand All-Star,' winner of the prestigious Apparel magazine All-Star Awards. The annual awards recognized the ten foremost progressive firms in the apparel, retail and soft goods businesses. AbilityOne has also received the Gold Medal Award at the Defense Supply Center, Richmond Automated Best Value System annual awards ceremony, an award that recognizes excellence in supplying quality products, as well as meeting delivery schedules. AbilityOne has received the 2008 International Spirit of Service Award, as well as the 2005 Al Gore Hammer Award. According to the 2007 GSA survey, AbilityOne custodial services ranked above commercial custodial services in seven out of seven industry-recognized benchmarks.

AbilityOne's awards are stunning in their breadth. For Facility Management in relation to Custodial Services, the program has received numerous awards.

  • Preferred Supplier Award for Facility Services from numerous federal government locations
  • ISO 9001:2000 Quality Control Standard
  • ISO 14001 Certification
  • LEED Green Cleaning Certification
  • Commendations from the Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine (CHPPM)
  • Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) Certification
  • AbilityOne was recognized by California Fleet News for Exceptional Results with Extraordinary People. AbilityOne received honorable mention for providing "innovative and creative spirit of the nation's fleets and finding new and effective ways of providing programs and services to their fleet customers."
  • AbilityOne's Fleet Management Services also helped Ft. Lewis Army Base in Washington earn a 6th place ranking from the 100 Best Fleets in North America.

The Food Processing and Packaging Awards and Recognition the AbilityOne Program has received are equally notable. The program has received several very highly-notable awards for service that is clearly above and beyond anyone's expectations. The Food Process and Packaging Awards these people with disabilities have earned in the last ten years alone include:

  • 2009 Air Force John L. Hennessy Award Multi-facility - First Place Eglin AFB, FL
  • 2009 Navy Capt. Edward F. Ney Award Continental U.S. General Mess category - First place Naval Station, Norfolk, VA 2008 Navy Capt. Edward F. Ney Award Continental U.S. General Mess category - First place Naval Weapons Station, Charleston, SC
  • 2008 Marine Corps Major General WPT Hill Memorial Awards Best Full Food Service - First place Mess Hall 620, Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA
  • 2007 Air Force John L. Hennessy Award Single Facility - First place Vandenberg AFB, CA
  • 2007 Navy Capt. Edward F. Ney Award Continental U.S. General Mess category - First place Navy Mid-Atlantic Naval Amphibious, Little Creek, VA
  • 2007 Marine Corps Major General WPT Hill Memorial Awards Best Full Food Service - First
  • 2006 Air Force John L. Hennessy Award Single Facility - First place Travis AFB, CA Multi-Facility - First Place Eglin AFB, FL
  • 2005 Air Force John L. Hennessy Award Air Force Reserve Unit Winner 919th Service Flight, Duke Airfield, FL
  • 2004 Army Philip A. Connelly Awards Large Garrison Winner: 2D Brigade, 25TH Infantry Division (Light), Schofield Barracks, HI

The services to America provided by the AbilityOne Program include Secure Mail and Digital Document services. The portion of the AbilityOne program that provides these services has earned a number of awards for exceptional services as well. The people involved in Mail and Digital Document services through the AbilityOne Program absolutely shine.

Secure Mail/Digital Document Awards & Recognition:

  • GSA Award for Mail Center Excellence
  • Peace Corps, Washington, DC (2004)
  • FBI Building, Washington, DC (2001)
  • U. S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC (2000)
  • ISO 9001:2000 compliant and registered
  • 99.1% order fill accuracy
  • 96.0% employee retention rate
  • 2 million squ. ft. of accessible warehouse space
  • 550+ trained specialists in national network
  • 99.9% inventory accuracy
  • 99.0% on-time delivery rate
  • $35 million+ in current federal logistics contracts

Administrative Services at Randolph Air Force Personnel Center, Texas

The AbilityOne program, in only one example of service provided to America, presents Automated Records Management Systems (ARMS) services within the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) at Randolph AFB in Texas. There are currently one-hundred and four employees who provide administrative support services in the critical project, which began in October of 1999. AFPC at the base currently needs additional personnel for administrative support services, which consist of maintenance of Air Force civilian personnel records, postal operations, administrative support, military and civilian recognition programs, military records management and promotion board support, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)/Privacy Act (PA) request processing, administrative records file plans management and forms management.

AbilityOne has a number of service areas. These service areas cover a very wide-range of services, in a great many areas. What follows is a synopsis of AbilityOne's services.

Civilian Personnel Records: Civilian Personnel Records services consists of checking civilian personnel records in and out of filing locations, scanning and profiling of hard copy and electronic documents for greater than eighty-three bases in an electronic filing system, as well as maintaining older, hard copies of personnel records.

Administrative Support: Administrative Support consists of acquiring administrative supplies for civilian personnel folder maintenance, picking up and delivering mail for each section, transmitting and receiving messages to Air Force locations as needed.

Postal Operations: Postal Operations consists of processing of both incoming and outgoing mail, which include official and accountable mail, and transmitting and receiving Defense Messaging Systems electronic messages.

Military and Civilian Recognition Program: The Military and Civilian Recognition Program consists of ensuring timeliness and completeness of awards, decorations, plaques, trophies, and certificates submitted for recognizing military and civilian employees through board process for award determination.

Military Records Management and Promotion Board: the Military Records Management and Promotion Board consists of checking in and out officer and senior NCO records to customer, maintaining and updating records, creating records for promotion board review, copying records for customers, and preparing records for shipping as needed.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)/Privacy Act (PA) Request Processing: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)/Privacy Act (PA) Request Processing consists of receiving requests for information under the FOIA/PA, must be knowledgeable of case law, processing FOIA appeals, collection of fees for FOIA, request processed, and certification of systems requiring FOIA/PA information.

Administrative Records Plans Management: Administrative Plans Management consists of ensuring files for all offices in the Personnel Center have proper file plans, training of personnel for maintaining file plans, storage and disposition of records, and performing staff assistance to offices where files plans are located.

Forms Management: Forms Management consists of administrative form designing from an existing or new requirement, maintaining record sets for developed/redeveloped forms, and preparing reports on form development.

In addition, AbilityOne has been asked to take on the Worldwide Locator Service for the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base. The Worldwide Locator Service is an administrative service function; it allows individuals to call into the Air Force Personnel Center to locate active duty or retired military personnel.

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