A federal program designed to help the disabled find work and the nonprofit agency, SourceAmerica, that manages it is under investigation by multiple government agencies including the Department of Justice.
The investigation into corruption, financial fraud and other legal violations at AbilityOne sounds very much like it could be a whistleblower lawsuit under the False Claims Act. Back in 2012, there was a settlement of a lawsuit under the False Claims Act involving ReadyOne Industries based in El Paso, Texas for $5 million.
If this investigation was indeed started by a whistleblower, it could be a large one. The program spends about $3 billion a year in taxpayer money. The companies that contract with AbilityOne must have 75% of their work performed by severely disabled or blind employees. According to CNN, as many as half of the companies receiving federal funds through AbilityOne may be in violation of the law due to insufficient employees disabled employees. Since approximately 10 large companies are getting contracts funneled to them through the program, their employment of an inappropriate number of non-disabled workers could result in a huge fine either by the companies doing the work or the nonprofit selecting them.
The allegations broke as the nation celebrated the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 25th anniversary. The law was enacted by Congress and signed into law by then President George H. W. Bush in 1990.