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Fed policy changes leave 60 ABVI jobs at risk, Schumer warns

Rochester Business Journal
June 23, 2014

A change in the federal government’s distribution and procurement policy has cost the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Greater Rochester $1 million over the last 12 months and threatens the jobs of 60 blind workers who make the products, Sen. Charles Schumer said Monday.

The ABVI is part of the federal AbilityOne program, which employs the blind to make SkilCraft products, such as Post-It notes and cleaning supplies, Schumer said during a news conference at ABVI.

A 1971 law requires the federal government to purchase certain supplies and services from ABVI and other non-profits participating in AbilityOne when it places an order with the General Services Administration or a GSA-approved private supplier, Schumer said. However, oversight has been lax in recent years and orders for SkilCraft products have not been fulfilled as required.

Moreover, Schumer said, the GSA is about to close its last remaining product depots, putting all supplies in the hands of private suppliers and making enforcement even more difficult.

Schumer called on the federal government to abide by the 1971 law.

“I understand it is important to find ways to cut costs and make government more efficient,” Schumer said, “but I am equally concerned that some of these cost-cutting initiatives, and changes in the way the GSA does business, could cause over 60 blind Rochester residents to lose their jobs.” 

The Rochester-based non-profit organization gets much of its funding through federal contracts.

(c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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