Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940

March 20, 2000

Library of Congress Signs Contract To Hire People with Severe Disabilities

The Library of Congress has signed a $3.7 million cleaning contract for one year with a private nonprofit agency that provides jobs for people with severe disabilities. The Library's cleaning contract with The Chimes Inc., a nonprofit, nonsectarian, Baltimore-based agency, took effect on Thursday, March 16. The Chimes offers job opportunities as well as vocational and skill training for people with developmental disabilities.

Employees for the new contractor will clean the Library's Jefferson, Adams and Madison buildings on Capitol Hill as well as the Little Scholars Child Development Center on Sixth Street N.E. This newly constituted cleaning crew includes 40 employees with severe disabilities, whose number will increase throughout the year until they are providing three-fourths of the labor force required to clean the buildings. The balance of the workers, who were previously employed by the Library's former cleaning contractor, will be offered other jobs as they are displaced by people with severe disabilities.

Joining a number of federal agencies that are hiring people with severe disabilities, the Library has exercised special procurement provisions of a federal law, the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act (JWOD), which directs government agencies to engage the services of people with severe disabilities if certain contracting requirements are met. At the end of one year, the Library and the contractor will have the option of renewing the agreement annually for four years. The contract for custodial service will remain in the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Program as long as the Library receives satisfactory services from the nonprofit agency.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said the new contract gives these workers an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and self-sufficiency and provides the Library with an enthusiastic workforce capable of meeting the Library's standards for keeping its facilities clean, safe, and healthy for employees and visitors.

Leon A. Wilson Jr., executive director of the federal agency that administers the JWOD Program noted that "the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Program, is delighted to have the opportunity eventually to employ more than 50 persons with severe disabilities to clean the Library of Congress. From the Statue of Liberty in New York to the U.S. Mint in San Francisco, the JWOD Program has a history of providing quality service to hundreds of government locations," he added.

Terry Allen Perl, president and CEO of The Chimes, said his agency, established in 1947, provides not only jobs to adults but also a full range of services, including vocational and residential programs, to people of all ages with "barriers to independent living," including mental retardation and other disabilities. Mr. Perl emphasized that these workers have demonstrated their abilities to do the jobs they are hired to do.

Government contracts with community rehabilitation programs for cleaning and many other services and products result from the 1938 Wagner-O'Day Act, which directed government agencies to purchase, under specified conditions, products from certified nonprofit agencies that hired people who were blind. In 1971, Sen. Jacob K. Javits of New York amended this act to include the purchase of services and products from community rehabilitation programs that employ people with severe disabilities other than blindness.

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PR 00-042
3/20/00
ISSN 0731-3527

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