On January 30th, 2014, the Office of Public Engagement (OPE) resumed its monthly White House Disability Community Call. The call was led by Claudia Gordon, Associate Director of OPE and the White House liaison to the Disability Community. Ms. Gordon spoke briefly on President Obama’s State of the Union address from January 28th, 2014 – specifically touching on three themes: opportunity, goals, and action and how they apply to the disability community. Ms. Gordon also spoke about the update to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This new update deals with affirmative action and how it relates to people with disabilities who are working with or want to work with federal contractors and subcontractors. If you are a federal contractor, federal subcontractor, or person with a disability, please visit the Department of Labor’s (DOL) page on frequently asked questions to learn more about the Section 503 Final Rule. Ms. Gordon then shared the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announcement from December of 2013 that the government had hired a greater percentage of people with disabilities.
Ms. Gordon introduced Katherine Archuleta, the 10th Director of OPM, as the primary speaker for today’s call. Director Archuleta is the first Latina to lead OPM and was very clear in her speech that she is open to suggestion on initiatives for people with disabilities in the federal government and encouraged listeners to increase the number of people with disabilities hired by their companies. To go along with her encouragement of hiring more people with disabilities, Director Archuleta discussed the increase in federal hiring of people with disabilities. She also stated that, although federal budget cuts have had an impact on the hiring of people with disabilities, OPM wants to build on the accomplishments already achieved and plans to create better diversity training for hiring managers on people with disabilities. Director Archuleta also defined targeted disabilities for affirmative action in employment in the federal government, which include deafness, blindness, learning disabilities, dwarfism, and cerebral palsy. Director Archuleta closed with encouraging people to contact her through OPM with ideas for initiatives for people with disabilities.
The last portion of the call dealt with the Presidential Personnel Office. The PPO deals with presidential appointments and listeners were encouraged to either apply themselves and to encourage people with disabilities to apply. The application process was described as follows:
- Get the Plum Book, which is a report that is released every four years and lists every political appointment available. Applicants are encouraged to go through the Plum Book to see what appointments interest them or visit www.usajobs.gov.
- Apply online using the whitehouse.gov website.
- Once you have submitted your application, your application will be processed and you will be contacted. If you have any questions or would like to follow up, you can email these questions or follow up to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, Ms. Gordon shared that there is a newsletter available for the disability community. To sign up, email email@example.com to receive the newsletter.
The White House Disability Community Calls are a monthly event. NARIC will share the information for future calls as soon as we receive it or you can sign up for the newsletter mentioned above. These calls are off the record and not for press purposes. NARIC shares the information received through these monthly calls as a service to our patrons.