Senate Panel To Reform 68-Year-Old Jobs Program
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 17, 2006
WASHINGTON, DC--A U.S. Senate committee plans to introduce legislation next year designed to reform a Depression Era federal program created to employ workers with disabilities, but that has recently been under investigation for fraud.
The legislation is currently being drafted by Republican Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, outgoing chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, who has been holding hearings and investigations into fraud and corruption of contracts under the 1938 Javits-Wagner-O'Day program.
The incoming chairman, Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, has said he would propose the bipartisan measure, drafted by Enzi, to tighten regulations under which $2 billion in no-bid set-aside contracts are granted each year to nonprofits to manufacture such things as chemical warfare protective suits, military uniforms and accessories, and cardboard boxes.
Last October, the committee heard testimony that executives of many nonprofits under JWOD contracts were earning salaries well into six figures, at the same time that many workers with disabilities were stuck in sheltered workshops, discouraged from seeking work in the community.
The largest nonprofit in the nation to benefit from JWOD contracts last year was the National Center for Employment of the Disabled, which has since changed its name to Ready One Industries.
The federal government paid $275 million to NCED, with the understanding that employees who were "blind or severely disabled" perform 75 percent of the work. But investigators found that the company could only account for 7.8 percent of its work being performed by such employees.
At the same time, The Oregonian found that NCED's former president, Robert E. "Bob" Jones, paid himself as much as $4.5 million a year in management fees while using the nonprofit's assets to finance his own business ventures.
Jones resigned in March after The Oregonian detailed how NCED had, among other things, listed an inability to speak English as a disability.
During a recent four-hour meeting with the nonprofit's attorneys, Jones refused to answer 543 questions asked of him, choosing instead to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
Congress aims to fix job program for disabled (The Oregonian)
Charity no closer to recovering millions it says ex-chief lost (The Oregonian)