Promising Practices

Grow Success: Accountability and Measurement

In the 2012 report, Federal Agency Employment Strategies: A Framework for Disability Inclusion, the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor outlines federal best practices for recruiting, hiring, and advancing people with disabilities. The Grow Success recommendation was described as a process of accountability and continuous improvement, which will help federal agencies to establish criteria with which to measure and evaluate outcomes related to disability employment practices.

Collecting data on employment outcomes is about setting goals, and creating accountability for meeting those goals. Beginning with passionate leadership and managerial commitment, the following policies and practices should be evaluated in relation to applicants and employees with disabilities:

  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Recruitment and retention
  • Communication and accountability
  • Measurement and Evaluation

Once objectives have been prioritized in each area, effective measurement tools can be established. Ideally, goals should be connected to the performance evaluations of the people responsible for meeting those objectives.

Accountability and Measuring Success

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has incorporated many of the above recommendations into its plan to implement Executive Order 13548. The VA established disability-related hiring goals across all levels of management, and reviewed those goals on a quarterly basis. According to Georgia Coffey, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diversity at the VA:

"It's not just about hiring. It's not just about retention. It's about performance, it's about maintaining an inclusive work environment and all of that is contained by reference in their performance plans now. We hold them specifically to making sure they achieve the Secretary's hiring goals for people with targeted disabilities. That is the one area where we can lawfully, proudly establish a numerical goal."

Accountability and Measuring Success
at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Accountability and Measuring Success Video Click to watch "Accountability and Measuring Success" video

The Right Information at the Right Time

The VA provides mandatory training to managers and hiring officials because, as the VA Director of Outreach and Retention Tinisha Agramonte said:

" can't set a goal and not give people the resources and tools they need right then to meet those goals. We made sure that we included a Schedule A module in our mandatory supervisors and managers training...We let them know about the Workforce Recruitment Program...That gives some information competencies for our hiring officials to make sure that they're giving full consideration to individuals with disabilities. Making sure they know what questions not to pose during an interview, how to provide effective and timely accommodations, how to address some of those attitudes that may serve as barriers to employ."

Providing Resources

The cost of providing accommodations can be perceived as a barrier to federal employment. Part of the VA's efforts to be accountable to meet hiring goals is to centralize the funding of accommodations -- and to keep track of all expenditures. Tinisha Agramonte put it this way:

"When you set a hiring goal you let people know that you're serious about employing this group of people. When you have money to procure reasonable accommodations and a system that tracks all accommodation requests that are submitted throughout the department. I think that is senior leadership's demonstration of their commitment to hiring people with disabilities and that's what sets the culture and climate."

Building on Success

Measurement is only effective when it is evaluated in comparison to your goals, and how those goals are being met over time. Reporting must be interactive, targeted and informative about activities and their impact. Christy Compton, VA's Disability Program Manager from the Division of Outreach and Retention, explained it this way:

"We set a hiring goal and we didn't meet it the first year. We met it the second year. This year we increased the goal from 2% of all of our hiring to people with targeted disabilities to 3% of all of our hiring and they are averaging like 2.6, 2.7%...So we're very, very proud of the increase. We're very proud of the support we've gotten all the way across all across the country. It's in the performance plans of the executives all through the VA. So they're always asking what we are doing towards the goals. I send out quarterly updates."

"I think progress builds progress. You know, when people can see that they are meeting the goals or even coming close to the goals, they know exactly what to do the next time."

U.S. Department of Labor (2012). Federal agency employment strategies: a framework for disability inclusion. Retrieved from

Linkow, P., Barrington, L., Bruyere, S., Figueroa, Y., &Wright, M. (2013). Leveling the playing field: Attracting, engaging, and advancing people with disabilities. New York: The Conference Board. Retrieved from