The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Thompson created the Office on Disability in October 2002 to advise him on disability-based issues and initiatives and serve as the focal point within HHS for the implementation and coordination of policies, programs and special initiatives related to disabilities. His decision supported President Bush's New Freedom Initiative (NFI) Executive Order and the resulting HHS solutions specified in the report to the President, "Delivering on the Promise." The Secretary's four expectations for the Office on Disability are to:
The following provides information on how the Office has met Secretary Thompson's expectations from its beginning through September 2003.
Expectation One: Lead the HHS NFI initiative.
Expectation Two: Oversee, coordinate, develop and implement disability programs and special initiatives within HHS that impact people with disabilities.
Expectation Three: Ensure that persons with disabilities across the lifespan have a voice within HHS.
Expectation Four: Heighten the interaction of programs within HHS and with Federal, State, community and private sector partners.
Convened and facilitated monthly NFI Workgroup update and information sharing meetings with other HHS agencies. These meetings monitor respective solution attainment identified in the NFI Report to the President, and enhance cross-agency NFI and cross-disability activities.
Developed disability-based management tool initially based on Fiscal Years 2002 and 2003 HHS agencies' NFI and disability related funded programs 2003 to demonstrate how HHS is addressing the President's NFI Executive Order for submission to Secretary Thompson (in progress). The tool is based on the President's NFI Executive Order six domains - transportation, education, employment, assistive technology, housing and community integration - and the seventh domain of health added by the Office on Disability.
Established partnership with the HHS Faith-Based Office to hold an input meeting, expected in September, with faith-based representatives, which will carryout the NFI solution identified in the Report to the President on addressing the importance of faith in helping persons with disabilities become contributing members of their communities.
Collaborated with HHS agencies, Federal Departments, and councils (examples provided) to meet and enhance the solutions:
Provided planning support for the National Women's Check-Up Day. This included addressing, for the first time, the healthcare issues and needs of women who are disabled by having them receive physical check-ups at the 61 University Centers of Excellence across the nation.
Co-sponsored a conference with PCMR on asset building for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Co-sponsored a national meeting, "Annual Perspectives on Employment for Persons with Disabilities," with the HHS Human Resource office and DOD on hiring persons with disabilities.
Partnered with the ADD to address and implement the Help America Voters Act (HAVA).
Facilitated four NFI Workgroup subcommittees to enhance and support cross-agency NFI activities, through a health and human services perspective, that address the transportation, caregiver, employment, and housing needs of persons with disabilities. The Office on Disability is developing Fiscal Year 2005 cross-agency technical assistance and demonstration initiatives to help States and local communities with each of these targeted need areas.
Participated in ongoing HHS taskforces to ensure that the needs of persons with disabilities are addressed, such as Office on Disability membership on the Secretary's Rural Taskforce, Interagency Council on Homelessness, Council on Health Disparities, Coordinating Council on Women's Health.
Co-sponsored the NIH National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research July 2003 conference on lifespan aspects of physical disabilities. Ensured that other HHS agencies joined in the co-sponsorship.
Facilitated and managed HHS agencies adherence to Section 508 information technology accommodations.
Enhanced the HHS NFI solutions (as specified in the Report to the President, "Delivering on the Promise") by identifying barriers and solutions to community integration due to current Federal, State, and local budget issues through specific and cross-disability constituency input meetings with disability groups listed below. For example, the Office on Disability held a cross-disability input meeting on June 26, 2003 to obtain information on how State budget issues can be addressed to maintain the NFI and prevent unnecessary institutionalization. Disability groups include:
Provided ongoing support and advocacy to persons with disabilities experiencing barriers in community living.
Disseminated information on evidence-based practices and research outcomes through participation in national disability-based conferences.
Finalized Memorandums of Understanding:
Department of Transportation (in progress).
Included expert input from the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Labor, Education, Transportation, and the Social Security Administration in the development of the Office's NFI Workgroup subcommittees' action plans. The input helped direct FY 05 cross-agency and intergovernmental initiatives addressing the health, social services, transportation, housing, employment, and caregiver needs of persons with disabilities, addressing the NFI domain of community integration.
Co-facilitated Transportation Workgroup with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the HHS IGA to address transportation barriers for persons with disabilities addressing the NFI transportation domain. Workgroup participants represent the HHS service-based agencies.
Convened discussions with policy level representatives from the Fannie Mae Home Ownership Initiative, HUD and CMS on disseminating information and providing opportunities for homeownership for persons with disabilities addressing the NFI domain of homeownership.
Last Revised: May 12, 2004