Troubled Employment Program Gets Approval To Continue Federal
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 21, 2006
EL PASO, TEXAS--A federal oversight committee has ruled that Ready One Industries can continue to receive government contracts designed to employ people with disabilities.
The unanimous vote by the President's Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled means that Ready One, formerly known as the National Center for Employment of the Disabled, will not be forced to lay off an additional 1,000 employees.
Last year, the federal government paid the company $275 million to manufacture such things as chemical warfare protective suits, military uniforms, and cardboard boxes under contracts set aside for workers with disabilities under the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act (JWOD). The company faced losing contracts after investigators found that the nonprofit could only account for 7.8 percent of the work being performed by employees who were "blind or severely disabled". The JWOD program requires 75 percent of the work to be performed by workers with disabilities.
In announcing its July 13 decision, the committee said that the company had made significant improvements in recent months. Even though Ready One does not yet meet the 75 percent requirement, it is expected to by the end of the year, the El Paso Times reported.
Since those violations became public this spring, several government agencies have withdrawn or refused to renew contracts, forcing the company to lay off more than 1,000 of its 4,000 employees.
In recent months, many programs that receive funds under JWOD have been criticized for employing workers with disabilities in sheltered workshops and discouraging them from finding employment in the community, while paying top executives six- and seven-figure salaries.
"Ready One employees happy jobs won't be eliminated" (El Paso Times)
"FBI searches the home of Ready One consultant" (El Paso Times)