Dozens of federal programs exist to help people with disabilities get and keep jobs. But a new government report finds many of the initiatives are wasteful and produce questionable results.
Some 45 programs — run by nine different federal agencies — are tasked with supporting employment for people with disabilities, but many of them have overlapping agendas and coordination between programs is limited, according to the report from the Government Accountability Office.
For example, there are five programs focusing on youth and young adults with disabilities. At the same time, 36 of the government’s 45 programs offer employment counseling, assessment and case management services, investigators found.
So bloated is the current system that the report indicates that some of the programs currently available were created simply to help people navigate the fragmented government assistance offerings already in place.
What’s more, while the disability employment initiatives received more than $4 billion in 2010, investigators found that what was achieved with that money is largely unclear. Just 10 programs had conducted an evaluation in recent years and only one had completed an impact study, the report said.
Meanwhile, Congressional oversight of the initiatives is spread over some 13 committees.
“The number of programs providing similar employment services to people with disabilities — and the range of requirements and approaches they entail — raises questions about the current structure of federal disability programs,” auditors wrote.
The report was one of several initiated by Congress’s investigative arm to identify waste and duplication in government programs.
Investigators recommended that governmentwide goals be established for disability employment so that officials can determine the most efficient ways to administer services that are needed.
Officials at the agencies responsible for the disability employment programs had varying responses to GAO’s findings. Some concurred while others insisted that even in cases where programs had similarities, they offered distinct benefits.