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Employer Assistance & Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN): A service of The Viscardi Center.
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Federal Employer Requirements

The federal government has established the employment of individuals with disabilities in the federal workforce as a priority for over a decade. These disability employment goals are embodied primarily through Management Directive-715 and Executive Orders 13163 and 13548. Furthermore, proposed changes to Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act announced in March 2016 aim to set representation rates and combine and clarify numerous existing requirements for affirmative action plans for federal agencies.

Management Directive 715 (MD-715)

MD-715 requires that all federal agencies design model recruitment and hiring strategies for people with disabilities and implement programs to retain these workers. To ensure transparency and accountability, agencies must report on their progress in hiring people with disabilities, and the Office of Personnel Management posts the results of agencies’ efforts online for public evaluation.

Executive Order 13163 (EO 13163)

In 2000, President Clinton issued Executive Order 13163 to prompt the addition of 100,000 employees with disabilities to the federal workforce within five years. However, by 2010, employees with disabilities still only represented five percent of the nearly 2.5 million workforce and those with targeted disabilities constituted less than one percent.

As a part of EO 13163, each agency was directed to prepare a plan to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities at all levels and occupations within government. This included utilizing available hiring authorities, expanding outreach efforts, and accommodating individuals with disabilities.

Executive Order 13548 (EO 13548)

In light of the lack of gains in disability employment following EO 13163, in 2010 President Obama issued another Executive Order recommitting to compliance with EO 13163 and positioning the federal government as a model employer for individuals with disabilities.

This recommitment emphasizes greater compliance and accountability. This includes performance targets, numerical goals and sub-goals for individuals that have targeted disabilities. Consequently, executive departments and agencies must improve upon their efforts to employ workers with disabilities through increased recruitment, hiring, and retention.

The Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was charged with designing model recruitment and hiring strategies for agencies and developing mandatory training programs for both human resources personnel and hiring managers on the employment of people with disabilities. OPM is also expediting the hiring process to fill vacancies within 80 days instead of 105 days.

Other components of EO 13548 include:

  • Designation of senior-level agency officials to be accountable for developing and implementing employment goals in recruitment, training, and advancement of individuals with disabilities, including targeted disabilities.
  • Utilization of the Schedule A Hiring Authority and increased participation in internships, training, and mentoring programs for individuals with disabilities.
  • Institution of a reporting system to track agency progress in implementation of objectives.

Other Resources

Increasing Disability Employment in the Federal Government: A Toolkit for Federal Agencies on Implementing Executive Order 13548<>
This Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy toolkit provides a wide range of resources to assist federal employers increasing their employment of people with disabilities, including information on training, recruitment, hiring, creating a welcoming environment, and retention.

Questions and Answers: Promoting Employment of Individuals with Disabilities in the Federal Workforce<>
This U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guide provides an overview of legal issues that affect the hiring and advancement of people with disabilities in the federal government. It is intended as a reference tool for federal government managers and supervisors.

Promising and Emerging Practices for Enhancing the Employment of Individuals with Disabilities Included in Plans Submitted by Federal Agencies Under Executive Order 13548<>
This summary report identifies promising and emerging practices for advancing the recruitment, hiring, and retention of individuals with disabilities identified in 10 selected agency plans submitted under Executive Order 13548. This summary report may be used by Federal agencies to learn about practices that may facilitate achievement of the overarching goal of the Executive Order—to ensure that the Federal government becomes a model for the employment of individuals with disabilities.

Executive Order 13163 and 13164: Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities & Reasonable Accommodations<>
Executive Order 13163 was signed into effect by President Clinton to increase the opportunity for people with disabilities to be employed by the Federal government. Executive Order 13164 requires agencies to offer reasonable accommodations to these employees. This entry in the Federal Register documents each of these Executive Orders.

Frequently Asked Questions about Management Directive 715<>
This U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guide provides information for federal employers on the most commonly asked questions about Management Directive 715.

Executive Order 13548: Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities<>
On July 26, 2010, President Obama signed into effect an Executive Order to increase the federal employment of individuals with disabilities. This web page provides the full text of that executive order.

Page last updated on Monday, February 17, 2014