The AbilityOne Program is one of the largest sources of employment in the United States for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. The AbilityOne Program is a $4 Billion annual program that supports all categories of disabilities, provides thousands of essential products and services, and supports small businesses in obtaining socio-economic independence. The Program is administered by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission (an independent Federal agency) with assistance from:
- Two Central Nonprofit Agencies (CNAs)
- National Industries for the Blind
- More than 500 Community Nonprofit Agencies (NPAs)
- The Federal Government
Through the Program, individuals who are blind or have significant disabilities provide quality products and services to the Federal Government at a fair market price. The NPAs employ more than 45,000 people who are blind or have significant disabilities, including approximately 3,000 veterans. The Program strives to reduce the astoundingly high percentage (70%) of Americans with disabilities who do not have jobs. Through the AbilityOne Program, people with disabilities enjoy full participation in their community, and are able to market their AbilityOne-learned skills into other public and private sector jobs.
As the government's central buyer, GSA is positioned to substantially support the AbilityOne Program through its many contracting vehicles and government-wide influence on federal purchasing dollars. GSA's vehicles allow federal agencies to purchase products and services directly from AbilityOne vendors -- further boosting sales under the Program.
The Statutory and Regulatory Authorities that govern the Program include:
AbilityOne Representative and Program Pledge
In October 2020, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) directed Federal agencies to each designate an AbilityOne Representative (ABOR). The role of the ABOR is to:
- Advocate for purchasing in accordance with mandatory source contracting procedures
- Engage with the agency’s workforce to build awareness and support for the AbilityOne Program mission
- Monitor and capture GSA’s AbilityOne spend and assist with identifying opportunities that expand utilization of the Program
- Provide feedback to the U.S. AbilityOne Commission to improve the value of the AbilityOne Program
GSA designated an agency level ABOR and two Service level ABORs.
In addition, OFPP asked agencies to commit to a pledge of at least 1% of their FY 2021 total spend to the AbilityOne Program, with an additional increase of .5% for FY 2022. GSA established a base pledge of 2% for FY 2021. GSA increased its pledge to 2.5% for FY 2022.
A Strategic Partner
GSA has had a long-standing relationship with the AbilityOne Program and constantly strives to identify opportunities that support and strengthen the Program. GSA’s major buying organizations, the Federal Acquisition Service and Public Buildings Service have Strategic Alliance Agreements with both AbilityOne CNAs, National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and SourceAmerica. Through these agreements, GSA has developed over 300 contracts worth greater than $500 million through AbilityOne NPAs and distributors. GSA’s spend under the AbilityOne Program accounts for roughly 10% of the Program’s $4 billion in sales.