2021 marked an important milestone in America’s efforts to advance workplace inclusion: the 20th anniversary of ODEP’s establishment. It was a time for both celebration and reflection, so we conducted a range of activities throughout the year to explore the impact of our work—and reaffirm our commitment to driving change and creating opportunity in the years to come.
The ODEP Story
How did ODEP begin? We were officially established in 2001, but our origins trace back a few years further. In 1998, President Bill Clinton, through Executive Order 13078, formed the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities. Convening expertise from an array of federal agencies, this Task Force evaluated existing federal programs to identify changes and innovations needed to improve employment opportunities and outcomes for adults with disabilities. One of its key recommendations was the formation of a permanent sub-cabinet level agency within the U.S. Department of Labor focused on disability employment policy. Congress then authorized ODEP in its Fiscal Year 2001 appropriation.
Upon opening our doors, we also assumed responsibility for a number of initiatives managed by the President's Committee on Employment of People with disabilities. This merging of policy and programmatic expertise laid the groundwork for the interagency connections and cooperative partnerships that are the hallmark of our work today.
Driving Change, Creating Opportunity Blog Series
ODEP’s 20-year body of work covers a wide range of policy issues that impact the employment of people with disabilities, including initiatives focused on transitioning youth with disabilities, workplace policies and practices, and employment supports such as accessible technology and transportation. We’ve also been responsive to new issues as they arise, including those created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the voices of ODEP team members, our “Driving Change, Creating Opportunity” blog series shares more about our main areas of focus for the past 20 years and provides insights into the depth and breadth of our programs, services and policy priorities.
- ODEP at 20: Driving Change and Creating Opportunity
- ODEP at 20: Driving Change through Accessible Technology
- ODEP at 20: Driving Change Through Inclusive State and Local Policies
- ODEP at 20: Driving Change Through Employer Engagement
- ODEP at 20: Leading Voices – Becky Ogle
- ODEP at 20: Driving Change Through Mental Health-Friendly Workplaces
- ODEP at 20: Driving Change Through Customized Employment
- ODEP at 20: Driving Change Through Workplace Accommodation Assistance
- ODEP at 20: Leading Voices – Neil Romano
- ODEP at 20: Driving Change Through Youth Policy
- ODEP at 20: Leading Voices – Kathy Martinez
- ODEP at 20: Driving Change by Helping People Stay at or Return to Work After Injury or Illness
- ODEP at 20: Leading Voices – Dr. Roy Grizzard
- ODEP at 20: Driving Change Through NDEAM
- ODEP at 20: Driving Change Through Federal Disability Employment
- ODEP at 20: Driving Change Through a Focus on the Future
ODEP began in Fiscal Year 2001 when Congress "…established in the Department of Labor an office of disability employment policy which shall, under the overall direction of the Secretary, provide leadership, develop policy and initiatives, and award grants furthering the objective of eliminating barriers to the training and employment of people with disabilities." 29 U.S.C. 567b