DLA earns DoD recognition for hiring people with disabilities

By Beth Reece

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The Defense Logistics Agency was recognized by the Department of Defense as a model employer of people with disabilities during a July 22 ceremony in Washington, D.C., honoring individuals and organizations that exhibit extraordinary support to the Workforce Recruitment Program. The agency was named “Component of the Year” and DLA Disability Program Manager Eric Spanbauer was named “WRP Coordinator of the Year” for his work managing the program agency-wide.

The WRP places prescreened college students and recent graduates with disabilities in 14-week internships at federal agencies. DLA’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office doubled the amount of interns it hired this year, going from 38 in 2015 to 62 in 2016. Interns were placed throughout the agency in positions including management assistant, supply technician and mobile vehicle dispatcher. Although interns are on DLA rolls, their salaries are paid for by DoD. 

“WRP is an excellent program that helps offset personnel shortages and allows us to take advantage of the talent of students and recent graduates. And with 14 weeks, managers have enough time to evaluate individuals for possible permanent hiring,” said Carl Downey, EEO’s diversity-inclusion team lead.

The awards were presented by Peter Levine, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. He applauded the efforts of DLA and other organizations that partner with the Department of Labor to make the WRP a success. A 2010 executive order signed by President Barack Obama makes it mandatory for federal agencies to increase the hiring of people with disabilities. 

Spanbauer has overseen DLA’s participation in the WRP since his arrival in 2003. Having spent the previous seven years managing the Department of Army’s WRP involvement, Spanbauer worked to increase the number of students and recent graduates the agency hired through the program. 

“Our hiring numbers climbed each year, and in 2008 everyone was surprised that DLA toppled the Army with the highest hiring numbers. No one imagined that a mid-size component could take on any of the giant DoD components,” he said. 

Of the 944 WRP interns DLA has temporarily hired since 1995, 122 have been permanently hired through the noncompetitive “Schedule A” authority or the agency’s Pathways to Career Excellence Program, a two-year program designed to train entry-level personnel for subsequent advancement. Some of those permanent hires have reached the upper tiers of the General Schedule pay scale, and Spanbauer said he won’t be surprised if several become members of the Senior Executive Service.

“DLA is making a positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities by giving them a chance to prove their talents and be successful,” Spanbauer said.

The awards are the result of hard work by employees across the agency, including individuals from DLA Human Resources, DLA Finance and EEO, as well as supervisors who’ve hired WRP interns, added Bridget Lanier, DLA’s deputy director of EEO and diversity. 

For a more in-depth feature on DLA’s commitment to employing people with disabilities, see the September/October issue of Loglines.