The federal program, Ability One, that helps disabled people in job placement is being investigated as a possible nationwide corruption scheme.
Goodwill stores and operations mostly seen by the public are not believed to be under investigation, but corporate offices that get lucrative AbilityOne contracts are believed to be under investigation by feds. A Memphis corporate office was raided 9:00 a.m. Wednesday.
AbilityOne and its management operation, SourceAmerica, and many of the contracts they administer, are being investigated over allegations of financial fraud, operating illegal contracts, not employing the legally required number of disabled workers, bid-rigging, contract “steering,” and possible racketeering, according to sources. The program is one of the nation’s largest taxpayer contracts programs, awarding some $2.3 billion annually to contractors across the country.
Since 2010, Memphis Goodwill Industries has received more than $22 million in AbilityOne contracts to provide services such as janitorial work for the IRS and Public Buildings Service and to operate call centers for the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a government database of federal contracts.
SourceAmerica, established in 1974, is one of two U.S. nonprofits designated in the Javits–Wagner–O’Day Act to support nonprofit agencies participating in the AbilityOne Program. Under the Javits–Wagner–O’Day Act, federal law requires participants to provide employment opportunities for people who are blind or have other significant disabilities by providing them opportunities to produce goods and services under federal contracts. Before July 1, 2013, SourceAmerica was previously known as NISH.
AbilityOne and SourceAmerica had denied wrongdoing in their operation, and provided numerous statements in recent weeks in communications with their contractors and associated organizations that there is no problem in the program. Initially, officials in AbilityOne and SourceAmerica said they had no knowledge that any investigation was under way by the Justice Department.
In recent weeks, the officials with SourceAmerica confirmed the investigation IS ongoing. According to CNN, AbilityOne and SourceAmerica, are under investigation by at least four separate Offices of Inspectors General, and also by the U.S. Department of Justice, according to inside sources.
There is a Goodwill Store & Donation Center in Arlington Heights at Dryden Avenue and Rand Road.
On Goodwill’s official website, their about page states “Goodwills meet the needs of all job seekers, including programs for youth, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities, criminal backgrounds and other specialized needs. Last year, Goodwill helped more than 26.4 million people train for careers in industries such as banking, IT and health care, to name a few — and get the supporting services they needed to be successful — such as English language training, additional education, or access to transportation and child care.”
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