Announcing the proposed regulations for the quota last Dec. 8, Patricia Shiu, director of the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), declared: "For nearly 40 years, the rules have said that contractors simply need to make a 'good faith' effort to recruit and hire people with disabilities. Clearly, that's not working."
The evidence? Primarily that the percentage of disabled with jobs is lower now than it was in the 1980s. Yet as HR Policy, an association of chief human-resource officers, notes, the federal government itself has only 5% disabled on its payrolls—and the Labor Department's percentage of disabled employees has decreased every year since President Obama took office, despite a sharp increase in the number of department employees.
The notice in the Federal Register about the hiring quota was more than 53,000 convoluted words, and many businesses and trade associations are vehement that the Labor Department's $81 million estimate of the costs of compliance is greatly underestimated. HR Policy estimates the total cost would be at least $1.8 billion, not counting the losses resulting from companies hiring less-productive employees.