People With Disabilities:

Federal Programs Could Work Together More Efficiently to Promote Employment

HEHS-96-126: Published: Sep 3, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 3, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed federal programs targeted to disabled persons, focusing on: (1) how many of the programs provide employment-related services; (2) coordination of information, eligibility criteria, and services among various programs; and (3) the programs' effectiveness in promoting employment among disabled persons.

GAO found that: (1) 130 federal programs provide services to disabled persons; (2) in fiscal year 1994, federal agencies spent over $60 billion on 69 programs exclusively targeted to disabled persons and between $81 billion and $184 billion on 61 other programs targeted to a wider clientele that gave special consideration to disabled persons; (3) most program expenditures supported income maintenance and health care programs; (4) employment-oriented programs constituted only 26 of the 130 programs and received only 2.5 to 4 percent of total federal funding for such programs in 1994; (5) 57 other programs provided indirect employment assistance; (6) most programs provide services through states and local governments, and nonprofit and private organizations; (7) various program funding mechanisms affect the distribution of program funds among states; (8) the federal government funds a wide range of services to address major employment barriers; (9) disabled persons who need services from more than one program find the programs' differing eligibility criteria and numerous service providers burdensome; (10) the lack of program coordination and information sharing leads to service duplication and gaps, and past efforts to improve service coordination have only been marginally successful; (11) some state and local agencies have improved service delivery to disabled persons and reduced program costs; and (12) few programs have been evaluated for their effectiveness, since many agencies do not require or collect data on program outcomes.

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