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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  May 20, 2016 2:26pm-4:27pm EDT

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in 1991 -- one of the worst things you can do. i made that unfortunate decision at the age of 19, and devastating the family, a son, a brother, father, and a family member, one of the things -- the reason i have done what i doo done in a city, the number one challenge, that -- one of those things -- >> author of "righting my wrongs" discusses his 19 years in prison and his life after. go to booktv.org for the complete weekend schedule. >> house speaker paul ryan will be hosting indian prime minister
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modi in a joint meeting of congress on june 8th. we'll have live coverage of his speech on c-span. employing people with disabilities and disorders was the subject of a hearing on capitol hill yesterday. members of the small business committee heard testimony on the role the businesses play in creating job opportunities for the disabled. this is just over an hour. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> committee comes to order. i want to thank everyone for being here today. before i give my opening statement i'd like to welcome here the co-chairs of the conference. chris smith from new jersey is here, and mike doyle from pennsylvania is the democratic counterpart and we thank you for your work. and when this committee meets it's to discuss the challenges facing small businesses. today, however, we get to talk about some of the truly inspiring opportunities they have been offering. small businesses are not just the backbone of the american economy but they're also at the heart of our communities, and so today the committee will hear about the role small businesses
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are playing in expanding employment opportunities for all americans. i'm proud to welcome our four witnesses today, who have had such a positive effect on their and our communities. i'm especially pleased one of the -- miss hogan is from my home town of cincinnati and we welcome you. i'll introduce all of you here. for adult with intellectual or developmental disabilities or disorders, finding sustaining employment can be a real challenge. these individuals can be overlooked when employment opportunities arise and too often they're shut out from the workplace altogether. yet across the country we're seeing examples of how small businesses with their ability to adapt and accommodate are able to provide employment opportunities to those who might not otherwise get a chance. today we are excited to hear about some of these stories and learn more about the ways individuals who may have special needs are contributing to small business successes all over the country.
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as we approach the end of may, graduation season is officially upon us. thousands of young adults will be leaving school, ready and eager to join the work force. this new chapter in their life can present challenges for everyone, but for those with intellectual or developmental disorder order disabled this can be especially daunting, the these men and women might face a prospect where finding employment is unknown and options seem limited. thank through mall intense is working to expand opportunities to allow individuals with special needs to enter the work force and grow. ... remarks. >> thank you for putting together this hearing. i'm very excited.
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for most people work is closely aligned with feelings of self worth and a general sense that one is contributing to society. the result is greater employment opportunities for more americans. small businesses create jobs in their communities, and the us economy recovered from the great recession. and sector job growth in history, in fact 10 million jobs have been created since 2009 thanks largely to small businesses, from 10% to 5%, one particular demographic continues persistent challenges when facing employment with an
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economic downturn but other times as well. sadly those with autism spectrum disorder or down syndrome have an unemployment rate significantly higher than the national average. it is estimated 90% are unemployed. regrettably this is an uphill battle to overcome false perceptions of their ability and capacity of employees. many of those on the outpatient spectrum in specialized kinds of work like software testing and proofreading, they observe details others miss and are not able to focus for long periods of time. they take well-deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and ways of viewing the world. similarly individuals with down
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syndrome are valued members of the workforce when given the opportunity. they are proven to be efficient and loyal employees but despite their proven abilities, desire to work and the benefits to all parties involved, lack of opportunity remains. enhancing opportunities for these employees is not only beneficial from a business perspective but also an overall societal perspective as well. research shows employing individuals with disability reduces reliance on publicly funded adult services. with increased public awareness and inclusion efforts, many false notions about those with outpatient and down syndrome have been dispelled. today thousands of small businesses are providing not only job opportunities but career opportunities to these individuals. we are happy to have some of them here with us today to share
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their experiences. if there is one thing they are good at it is creating opportunity. today small businesses are at the forefront of creating innovative business models that employ hard-working resources. i hope today's hearing will clear up misperceptions and make clear that we can do what we can do to further facilitate small business employment for all americans. on that note i think the witnesses for testifying and look forward to your story. thank you. >> thank you very much. i will explain our lighting system here. each of you gets 5 minutes to testify and we will ask questions for 5 minutes and the green light will be on for four minutes, the yellow light will be on for one minute, let you know time is wrapping up. we ask you to stay within that. if you need extra time that is
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okay but stay within the system as much as possible. i might note that we will be interrupted by votes at some point around 10:30 or so. if your buzzers go off and members scream out of the room we will adjourn for a while and some of us will come back, some will go to our district, i will come back, we will be back. without further ado i would like to introduce our distinguished and interesting panel here today. our first witness is lisa gorey, vice president of programs and services that autism speaks, where she has worked since 2006. under lisa's leadership, autism speaks has provided researches and support to hundreds of thousands of families and individuals with autism all across the country. lisa has implemented many grant programs to provide services in support for people of all ages with autism and is working with
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autism speaks on a small business initiative and we welcome you here this morning. our next witness is miss terry hogan who is coming to us from the great city of cincinnati. the chairman and ceo of contemporary cabinetry east, small business with 70 employees. seeing the need for inclusion and diversity in the workplace miss hogan has through her business look to provide opportunities to individuals who might otherwise be overlooked or shut out from employment. her business has partnered with local schools and organizations to provide career exploration tours, connect real-world labor schools with academic and life skills. this helps students gain skills into the labor force. i would like to yield to the ranking member for the purpose of introducing another witness. >> thank you, mister chairman. it is my pleasure to introduce
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the cofounder of also testing high-quality software testing company, employing individuals on the autism spectrum. he began his career at microsoft and joined the company that focused on business incubation and growth strategies. for the past decade he has worked in setting up, running the private-sector division of the global forum to fight aids and malaria. a member of the advisory board of the asperger syndrome employment partnership steering committee of the unicef global innovation center and served as advisor, he holds degrees in computer science and electrical engineering from the massachusetts institute of technology. welcome. >> thank you. we thank the ranking member for that introduction and i
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introduce our final witness who is coming from lewisberg, kansas, where he is known as popping joe, owner of popping joe's gourmet kettle court. he is shining example as to the tremendous promise everyone is capable of achieving. when others sought to limit his potential, he and his family developed a business plan, and through his hard work he has grown his business to where it can be found at walmart, craft shows, car shows and events throughout kansas and george and hopefully someday in my office. he has also shifted kettle corn to troops serving overseas. we would have welcomed in bringing popcorn today but rules prohibit bringing food into the room. we won't be doing that today unless he is really persistent. he is accompanied by his father, ray, who was available to answer questions and we welcome his father as well.
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we thank all the witnesses for being here. you are recognized for five minutes. >> good morning, ranking member velazquez, mister chabot and ranking members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you about a topic that is very important to the autism community. advancing the role and impact of autism and employing individuals with autism. as mentioned i am executive vice president programs and services at autism speaks, the world's leading science advocacy organization dedicated funding research to improve the lives of people with autism and create awareness of autism spectrum disorders, advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. autism speaks supports adult in the spectrum in part by creating tools and resources to expand employment opportunities and workplace support for
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individuals with autism. the largest wave of children with autism aged out of our school system one of our communities's most daunting challenges is finding employment. is being tackled by entrepreneurs and small businesses. across the country small businesses are utilizing unique flex ability to create accommodating and innovative business models that sustainably employ individuals with autism, expose students earlier in their education to real work, real-world work experience and provide opportunities for work-based learning and technical skill attainment. national data indicates the vast majority of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed. 50,000 young adults with autism each year age out of the school system in the united states but only a fraction of those are gainfully employed in jobs that match their capability.
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autism speaks is working with small business to employ improvement outcomes. over the past three years our collaborative efforts with the small business community strive to spread awareness about the benefits of employing people with autism to develop innovative and sustainable business models, hiring practices and provide technical assistance and implement best practices. the innovation and flexibility unique to small businesses and entrepreneurs enable them to lead the way. >> the thoughts that are buzzing around -- >> small businesses are in position not only to develop new models that employ individuals with autism but to innovate in a way that directly responds to local labor market needs. the connection many small
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businesses have with their community is vital to creating partnerships necessary to transition students into local workforce and share best practices with other businesses that nurture workforce comprised of people of all abilities. businesses hire employees to build needs and fill a need and support their business's bottom line. small businesses with workforce that include employees with intellectual or developmental disabilities consistently report that these employees performance equals or exceeds their coworkers. the popular narrative largely based on corporate social responsibility must shift to business centered and represent the work, the capabilities and efficiencies that individuals with autism can bring to the workplace. employers are often unaware of the low-cost, high-impact of work accommodations and benefits of hiring individuals with
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autism. all employees need the right tools and work environments to support their jobs. similarly people with autism may need some adjustment or accommodation to maximize their productivity. employers report that a high percentage of jobs accommodations cost nothing and the rest typically cost less than $500. from small business initiative we learned creating communities of experts and investment partners who share information about accommodation and best practices is essential to help businesses utilize this untapped workforce. looking forward, leveraging small business as a key partner in workforce development strategies, better prepare students with autism for employment and provide employers with pipeline of skilled workers. national, state and local workforce development strategies should collaborate with small businesses to increase access to work-based learning and work
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experience for secondary school students to raise employment and independent living aspirations of people with autism and their families while demonstrating local employers the value of individuals with autism bringing to the workplace. individuals with autism deserve the opportunity to contribute as productive workers and actively improve their quality of life and businesses today have the opportunity to access a largely untapped labor pool of qualified job candidates that happen to be on the autism spectrum. once again, mister chairman, ranking member velazquez, i thank you and the committee for the opportunity to testify today. i have submitted additional remarks for the record and i look forward to answering any questions you may have. thank you so much. >> it has been brought to my attention that popping joe actually does have popcorn here
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that will be available at the end of the hearing so it is an encouragement for folks to stick around through the end. let's hear it for joe. thank you. you are recognized for five minutes. >> good morning, chairman chabot and ranking member velazquez and members of the committee. i'm terry hogan speaking on behalf of contemporary chemistry located in cincinnati, ohio. my title is ceo and chairman, we are certified woman owned business. we began as a small family business in 1984. my husband and i purchased the company from the family in 2003 and have grown steadily and today employ 70 individuals. my husband paul and i volunteer in a special needs community raising our 17-year-old son who has autism. we understand the concern of families who are facing transition into adulthood and
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those who have reached this stage. what happens now is a question frequently asked. how can our young adults become independent members of the community. thank you for this opportunity to speak before you to discuss how we can address these concerns and discuss inclusion in the small business workplace. we need to educate others so they can begin to take the dif out of disabilities and replace them with abilities. we also need to make small businesses aware of the untapped resource, people with diverse abilities. hiring people who are physically, genetically or cognitively diverse is not just the right thing to do but the smart thing to do. i believe cincinnati's small business community needs to work harder to address inclusion in the workplace. over a year ago our company hired mike, mike is with us today. when he started he had a job coach working with him and after a few months became
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self-sufficient. dobbs coaches shadow employees and empower them to improve performance. since mike has been with us he has become a model employee. he comes to work on time, he is reliable, he has raised more out, brought community awareness and cause others to have a broader perspective. he has also development friends in the company. for the business mike helped to develop a healthier bottom line and everyone works harder because of him. when businesses identify strengths of employees with disabilities and put them in jobs to match their skills those employees turn out to be faithful, low turnover hard-working employees. these special employees come to work on time and when scheduled and lower sick time off. in conclusion i would hope you would leave here today with a better understanding how inclusion in the workplace adds to the diversity of the workplace environment and may need to a more diverse customer
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base. the positive effect of these individuals have on lifting the morale of our employees, role model work, begin career technical education, middle and high school so students can learn these skills before they face transition into adulthood. take the dis out of disabilities and focus on abilities. here is a quote i recently read that i feel is applicable to this discussion. we become like our friends, the people we surround ourselves with, raise or lower our standards. mike has raised everyone's standards, hiring mike was the best decision -- business decision i ever made. thank you for your time and attention. let's go to work. thank you, congressman chabot for supporting the ability to work act. >> appreciate it. you are recognized for five minutes.
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>> i would like to start with a video. >> my name is david mcnabb. i am from illinois. i work as a quality assurance tester. like others imap and model things, connect them in different ways. people solve problems and express surprise at the solution. because of this difference i'm good at imagining combinations that may cause errors that are not obvious. i'm different because i connect in different ways. i am better because those connections help me find what is essential. >> chairman chabot, ranking member velazquez and members of
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the committee, thank you for your continued efforts to support small business in the us. i am one of the cofounders of ultra testing, a company that started three years ago with my old college roommates from mit. our check man is not here today, someone has to run the business. today we started a company we believe will revolutionize the software testing industry. we are building a business we hope will prove the tremendous economic opportunity to be unlocked by employing individuals on the autism spectrum. david, who you saw in the video is one of our team members, david graduated in 2001 with a science degree and was eager to start work. he interviewed for dozens and applied for dozens of positions but was not able to find a job in his field or any field. he was here to work so started volunteering at a computer repair shop and helping friends and family with their it issues.
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david tried to find paid work without success. in 2014 he applied for a position at ultra and successfully completed rigorous recruiting process and after starting work, working on bills of the able project generating income for himself, revenue for the company and value. within a year based on consistently excellent results david produced, we offered him a full-time position and thanks to his heightened abilities on pattern recognition, logical reasoning, innate curiosity about technology, to learn and improve, his willingness through difficult and challenging projects and his commitment to work hard and do his best every single day, david is one of the best software testers we have on our team and i would argue in the world. there are 3.5 million americans on the autism spectrum and by
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some estimates a third of them graduate from school and sometimes college. many individuals are capable and willing to work hard and would make a fantastic addition to any organization and over 80% of this population are not employed. when my cofounder and i founded ultra three years ago we set out to prove that we could build a technology company that brought excellence to our industry by employing a truly diverse workforce of people with different abilities. today we have team members working in 13 states across the us including the home states of many and most members of this many. over 75% of our employees have asked berger's syndrome or similar profile. 100% of us believe it is our differences that make us better.
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thanks to our exceptional team ultra has tripled our revenues two years in a row. we have achieved profitability and we consistently outperform our competition. to do that we haven't used a single dollar of philanthropic or government support. we developed an entirely new operational model for running a business. one that reinvented how recruiting and training works, that reimagines how projects and teams need to be managed and redesign how we communicate with each other. today thanks to widely available tools and technologies that allow for data-driven hiring that still require resumes or interviews that promote digital first communications and don't mean you have to be showing up to an officer work from an environment that is comfortable for you and allow remote teams to work as efficiently as teams that are co-located. any business, small or large can
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leverage talents of individuals anywhere in this country including individuals on the autism spectrum. our experience has proven by doing so companies can not only gain highly capable employees but can also achieve consistently superior results and a competitive advantage, thank you. >> thank you very much. you are recognized for five minutes. >> good morning chairman chabot, ranking member velazquez and members of the small business committee, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you about my journey from no expectations to becoming a successful business owner.
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i was welcomed to life, welcomed to school with here is your label. then came welcome to adult life with here is where you belong. labels create low expectations but the worst disability of all my parents attended a kansas partners and policymaking training that was presented, they learned i and others with significant challenges could own their own business. dad continue the trial work period with me, data collected, working was useful developing the business plan. my future in the kettle corn business looked promising. my startup team included the kansas council for developmental disability. another member of my startup team was social security. vocational rehabilitation provided support for the
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specific business and supplies. my past plan led me assigned money to achieve my specific goals. i submitted my business plan to each member. their support made it possible to be the sole proprietor in april 2005. the first five years shows a steady increase in sales each year, remains constant, 2015 gross, $60,000. please watch with me a few minutes of my work day. ♪ ♪
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>> work is about the person in the next question -- >> from people with disabilities, entrepreneurship is a good way to make a living. if you can create your own workplace environment you are going to be much better at creating one you can live with and thrive in. popping joe's is a popular addition to our market. when they are not here on wednesdays people ask for them. >> cattle corn is a multistep process. there is always something different to do. he can always find something when he gets bored with one task there is another task to do. popping, bagging, salting, all kinds of different things and delivering and interacting with the community. >> had a glint of the economic situation when building a business plan. first year being in business net
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profits were averaged $900 a month versus he was working a home and that this other traditional view of him for $20. >> i love being popping joe. i love being around a lot of people, it connects me to the community. >> the idea that people with disabilities are going to be coworkers in workplaces is an emerging idea. >> we probably are somewhere in the neighborhood of $5000 to $6000 a year of joe's product. that is a lot of popcorn. a lot of happy customers. >> caramel corn. >> 1234. >> i love to see him counting,
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adding, handing the invoice for the signature, gives me a great feeling. >> it is phenomenally different economically than it would be. it is not some trivial pursuit, serious work he is doing every day and he seriously enjoys it. >> owning my business works for me. it creates opportunities for me to grow as a person and be an engaged valued member of the community. with the right support system being a self-supporting entrepreneur can happen. i love being papa joe. thank you for inviting me. have a popping great day. >> excellent. the gentleman's time is expired. thank you very much. four excellent testimonies.
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the buzzer you heard, we have time for one group of questions before we break so i will go ahead and recognize myself for five minutes and then we will adjourn, go vote and be gone for a while and come back. let's see, i will begin with you. .. the, what are some of the challenges that you faced in the business getting it off the ground and how did you overcome those challenges? what recommendations would have to others that might want to do something similar? >> basically in the beginning as, joe was, he had a transition meeting with the school and they
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said that basically he had no attention span, couldn't keep on task, would probably never hold a job and that he would live in a group home the rest of his life. well, no one wants that said about their child. so i was determined i was going to prove to this committee he could work. from there we found kettle corn being a business with number of different processes to make the product. that way joe could move one phase to another phase as he chose. so he could keep his attention span involved with it. so that was one of the main things in the beginning. funding, we were able to work with david haymas and kerry griffin and they showed us resources that we could go to social security, counseling in kansas, all of those entities contributed money for him to get his equipment to start with.
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and it was there, from there that we started in just doing it to prove joe could work and it was within a five-year period of time that they indicated that we would be able to, joe would be able to own the business. and so it was, that is how we got started in. we made the application the fifth of april in 2005, was when he became the owner. he has been the owner ever since. >> excellent. in the film there they sold $6,000 worth of product. that is just that business, right? my understanding the business makes -- >> that is a cider mill locatedd in lewisburg, that is how much they paid joe for his corn. today they're selling over 10,000. they're selling close to $100 a week during the fall. when you get into the fall, cider season he will sell win thousand a month.
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>> that is one business. >> one business. >> overall, not to be nosey, irs want me to ask this question. >> no, right. he has been audited too. basically he is selling upward to $70,000 worth of popcorn a year. going to festivals. he has five or six outlets where he sells retail to people that, convenience stores that kind of thing. >> tremendous. >> thank you. >> next question, miss goring, let me ask you this real quickly, what perceptions do you hear from other businesses and the public out there about hiring folks that have challenges? what, and, how would you respond, how do you address those challenges predisposition some folks have about hiring folks like this. >> well, i think on a whole a lot of them have hesitations because they're not educate an and they're not aware.
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one of the things i went to my advantage, i'm raising a son with autism. i understand the language. i get it. we get out there educate small business owners are not like me. how do we tap into them to tell them it he okay? i have quote from our employees today, the things they have said that mike is just totally brought their morale up. made them all better employees. some of them, most of them have never been around anybody with special needs before. so it created awareness for them. it is done a lot better for our business. so we need, because we are doing it, we need to work with you zoom how and how can we get out there talk to these people? how do we reach them. so give them such a positive story about how good it is for their business. >> thank you, in 25 seconds, miss goring, that's all i have
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left, how would you respond. >> i think it is important to use people skills with autism have and they are good at complex, repetitive tasks others may not be as good at. it is really competitive advantage. >> thank you. unfortunately as i mentioned votes have been called. we have to adjourn. we have votes that take up to 45 minutes. remember there is popcorn waiting after we get back so stick around and we're adjourned .
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[inaudible conversations]. [inaudible conversations].
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> i apologize tell be everybody it would be 45 minutes it ended up being a lot longer than that please accept our apologies. i would now like to turn to the ranking member for five minutes. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me first thank all the
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witnesses for your moving, toughing, testimonies. i went to the floor to vote. everybody member participating in the hearing how an incredible experience. it is not every day that we have the opportunity to make a positive contribution in making sure we open the door of opportunity for everyone in america. so thank you so very much. mr. anandan one of the misconceptions hiring people with disabilities the need for costly accomodations in the work place. can you talk about the actions ultratook to accommodate its workforce. >> of course. as a startup, we don't have the ability to do costly anything.
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we run a lean company and profitable business. a lot of the things we have put in place, i would argue are things that any business should do to be more efficient. so we have communication tools we use and communication rules we put in place that take a lot of the unwritten rules in a work place that can be confusing and inefficient for anyone and make them explicit. so, for example, at ultra , if you say don't email the client directly unless it is important, keep it short. what is important and what is short and is it worth anyone's time to spend minutes and hours to figure out what is less. at ultra, 700 characters and a few bullet points and if not you should talk live.
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>> how can the government incentivize larger contractors to utilize the diverse workforce and talents of innovative small businesses like yours? >> so as you know section 503 of the rehabilitation act includes a goal of 7% of a contractor's workforce being individuals with disabilities. that goal doesn't do a lot to support small businesses who are not likely to be government contractors. on the other hand quick service subcontractors. small businesses are much more likely than large companies to be innovative and proactive employing people on that spectrum. a change in policies allow subcontractors employees to counts toward a large contractor's 7% goal could catalyze a new ecosystem of small businesses employing people with disabilities partnering with large contractors and ultimately doing better business and being better for society.
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>> thank you. >> miss goring, as you mentioned, your organization has hosted various programs including town halls and small business accelerator to get the word out about employing those with asd. what are some of the biggest lessons you learned from these programs and there are there any takeaways that would be helpful as the committee looks into further non-traditional employees? >> [inaudible]. >> it is off, your mic. >> we learned a couple of things. first we learned that you need to do what is best for the business and that it needs to make sense for the business and you need with that. you lead with the quality of the product or the service that you're providing. and then the second piece can be that it happens to be a person with autism but first and foremost you lead with that. to that point we found many small business and entrepreneurs
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maybe didn't have as much business sense they needed to so we provided them with information how they can build their business and how to make eight profitable biggs of the third piece was to provide very specifics about what the job entails and what you're looking for and break it down into small steps taught and chained together. those were some of the things we found to be helpful. >> miss hogan, in your testimony you discussed how your company partners with local schools. can you elaborate on how partnering with school benefits both, small businesses and individuals with disabilities seeking employment? >> so are you asking how, what do we do to partner with these schools and how do we make this work? one thing that is really important to me, we bring educators into our company and give them tours so they can see
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the type of jobs that are out there they need to go back to their schools to teach the skills. we've done this with several of the schools that are involved with the transition schools like, from 18 to 22. there are transition schools type available for those that want their students to keep learning unless they go to project search or something like that. what is important they come to see what we have, so they go back to the transition schools and teach the skills. >> thank you. >> gentlelady yields back. we'll go into a second round. i know mr. smith is coming back to ask some questions. as i mentioned before, what happens often times, this is our leave town today, once votes are over they scatter like scalded dogs out of this place all back
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to their districts. i will start with you if i can this time. how is employing individuals with autism impacted your business's bottom line? is there any advice you might want too give to other businesses out there that might consider working with folks with autism? >> so, i would say we consider ourselves one of the best software testing companies in the world because of the teams we have and team members we have shown over and over again that when we have been benchmarked against other competitors, whether they're onshore or offshore, we do better. we tested the wehbies which are like the oscars of the web. within a week found 20% more bugs and issues in the system than the partner they were working with. we won a project away from ibm around redid their work and found 56% more bugs than the ibm team.
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for a fortune 100 financial services company. the reason we're able to do that because 3/4 of our country have asperger's syndrome and autism profile and have the exact profile we're looking for to do software testing, have the raw talent, perseverance, ability to learn and work with teams and we have managers that work with our teams who are veteran technologists who join our company to be part of a company that has purpose and a mission. so we're able to attract fantastic talent into all roles. >> thank you very much. miss hogan i will turn to you next if i can. in your testimony you had mentioned what a great employee mike is and works hard and comes on time and everything else but most interestingly you said it had a positive impact on other employees and made them better employees. obviously the small business owner, that's important to being successful and keeping everybody
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employed and hiring more people. so how has, how has that been the case? is there any stories or examples where the quality of mike, his has improved the quality of your other employees? the mic again, if you would. that's right all right. >> i have brought with me some quotes, and stories. >> yeah. >> several have written. >> go right ahead. >> i they're all like amazing this is very interesting to me because it has perspective of someone who didn't know anything about the disability world, okay? so he says, my journey with mike began three months ago when i started at my new company, contemporary cabinetry east. mike was my coworker on machine. he was my first exposure to down's syndrome. i will be honest. i entered into that with certain amount of trepidation. there were a lot of unknowns i was getting into, but at same
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time i was so excited about the opportunity to presented to me. my limited experiences with down syndrome i always found those individuals to be gentle with incredibly big, loving hearts. mike is no exception. my ignorance is being erased and my concerns have dissipated. i have to say that being around mike is one of the greatest joyce i take from my job. his kindness and willingness to help anyone who asks is admirable and he has earned my respect and affection. mike teaches me every day how to love more. his outlook reminds me to appreciate the things and people in my life. his presence somehow frees me so i can be in the me that sometimes i'm afraid to be. i'm a happier person because of my friend mikey. >> that is excellent the thank you very much. i appreciate it. i have like a minute 15 second left and my time and two people i want to ask questions to. rather than ask you long question, i would like to say, start with you, miss goring and then you i ray, we didn't have
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time to ask a lot of questions, for 30 seconds what you would like to tell us that you haven't already told us that would be helpful to folks out there considering hiring folks with autism or down syndrome or any other disability? >> i think it is important to start early when they're still in school. to work on some of the skills that are needed and to do that out in the work place as much as possible in the real environment. >> thank you very much. and, joe, and ray? >> basically i would say a similar thing, as far as, if they could, a lot of people that have significant disabilities, their ability to work either owning, working for someone in a job or owning a business, they will surprise you what they can do when they realize it is theirs. that is same thing with joy,
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where we hoped he would come here doing this for us. >> thank you very much. my time expired. excellent. thank you. i would like to turn to the gentleman from new jersey, mr. smith is recognized for five minutes. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much. chairman chabot for convening this extremely important and timely hearing. and anita velasquez, thank you, what a team of people committed to expanding job opportunities. nobody creates more job opportunities than small business. it is timely for other reasons. the autism cares act, enacted in 2014 in august, august 8th of 2014, as you you know the administration has been given a marching orders to look at every aspect, all the inventory what is we're doing, in every area including employment for persons with disabilities who have autism. and as lori said earlier, 50,000 every year matriculate from minor status to adult.
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they lose education and a whole lot of -- the challenges are almost overwhelming and we will get a capacity assessment on or before august 8th. it will probably be late. all administrations are but it will be a further blueprint and you're ahead of the game because small business, i think will play the key role in that employment piece. would i point out gao also, undertaken a comprehensive study, assessment, unmet needs. that too the first iteration of that will come out probably in two or three reports, will be in july. so again, mr. chairman, you're ahead of the game. you're laying out, your witnesses were extraordinary. i can't wait to take, taste the popcorn. i think like everyone here but it is, thank you so very, very much for this. and frankly our other committees of congress should be following this lead. you know, education workforce and others in terms how we
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position now for an employment breakout. there needs to be a radical transformation on our outdated and i think very foolish views as to what people with disabilities including people with autism can contribute and i think the statement that was made by joe steffi that his iep team utterly failed him with the low expectations game and worst disability, quoted there is that of low expectations. to dad, thank you for the love you show for your son and that support. all of us need support teams, persons with disabilities need those support teams as well and equipment essential example of family that gets behind their son, lock, stock and barrel. i a very few questions, many but i know there is time limit. i had a hearing which we learned
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from sap who is in the process of hiring 650 people by 2020. they already have 100. they made the exact same points that were made today and made so eloquently about, as a matter of fact, part of their testimony was in spite of autism and because of autism, and very special skill set that is brought to the employment table, one of the things that was pointed out that i think, perhaps our distinguished witnesses could speak to it and that there needs to be rethinking of talent acquisition processes at businesses and the interviews methods which very often are a barrier that needs to be overcome. i also would ask you, if you could, to speak to the accomodations issue. there was a very important study, the jam work place accomodations study updated in 2015 that said, that 58% of the accomodations cost absolutely nothing. it's a matter of will, political or employment will on the part of hr.
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and beyond that, it is only billion $500. we're not talking about any kind of onerous burden financially to an employer. and then what they get in return in terms of loyalty, focus, the ability to do a job exceedingly well. i would also ask you lori, if you could speak to, the chamber is working with you, nfib and other great groups i know the chairman works with and anita velasquez all the time, they have a very important role to play with as well. low expectations game, i know it is the educational piece but how do we get those creating ieps to be much more knowledgeable the very young person they're working with with, you can dream and dream large. there is whole path for you into the future? so those couple of things. >> i think it starts with job sampling, to start that early.
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small businesses are a great opportunities to start job sampling. some of the things, preconceived notions what you thought would be a right job for a person aren't always true. but that you can actually learn what they're good at, in terms of the ininterview process are very helpful. you don't need that much of oral exchange but show a video of terrific work someone can do. in terms of accomodations. we've all seen some of the accomodations are no more than having a script in place for someone so they know exactly what to say when they pick up the phone. it could be writing out some of the rules that we take as sort of unwritten rules but if they're just laid out clearly, as ultra-testing did, 700 characters. can't get any clearer than that. types of exchanges, those accomodations don't cost anything but have tremendous dividends not just for those
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with disabilities but for everyone. >> first i would like to say we don't see any of the changes we've made to how a business works as accomodations. that is how we collaborate. we're collaborating across people who have very different strengths and just makes us better. we deliver better results. makes us more efficient. and i think if you take something like recruiting, resume' tells you how good someone is at writing a resume'. a firm handshake and eye contact maybe works for your job but has nothing to do with software testing. so for companies to be disciplined and rigorous about what it is that they're actually looking for and collect data they're validating what they're getting. instead of lits our natural human biases override the assessment what someone is capable of is critical. ultimately it will make like we do, have 95% success rate of
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somebody coming through computing to outperform ibm. >> thank you very much. gentleman's time has expired. thank you very much. i would like to yield as much time as she might consume to the ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. one more question i would like to ask ray. what advice would you give similarly situated individuals and families that are interested in studying their own business? -- starting their own business. >> at different times when we've spoke to groups, especially parents that have kids with special needs, we kind of put it in this way. you have a choice. you can sit on the couch and worry about is going to happen with your child when you're gone. we all would agree, worry takes energy. or you could take the same amount of energy and put it toward an endeavor that can develop to be something that could go on far beyond you. and basically that is kind of the message we have and also
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helping them look for resources to bring fund available to start in an endeavor that the child is interested in, not the adult parents. >> so you see a role for government to play? >> oh, yes. yes i do. >> thank you. >> you're welcome. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. gentlelady yields back. we want to thank this panel very much for this testimony. sorry you got interrupted by votes. it is operational hazard around this place especially on heading out of town day. ii want to note, somebody in the room happens to be my chief of staff. why don't you wave to them down there. stacy, you wouldn't know it but stacy has ms, multiple sclerosis and i can't keep up with her, to be honest with you. she is great. she also has a daughter who just turned 18 who has autism and her name is morgan.
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she is great. i met her first time couple days ago. always talking about her family. with me about a year. i'm kidding her i think she made up the family talks about her his and kids and everything. i know they exist right now. because i saw morgan with my own ice the other day because her class was here for a capitol tour. i went over and met with them and took pictures and told them stuff and answered questions, amazing questions, tough questions, but good once. i struggled to answer them but they were wonderful. and so we appreciate your hard work and she's tough. i'm scared of her to be honest with you. but it has been a great hearing. i think all the members here and one who is were here obviously before had to take off for the district. we learned a lot. we will pass this on to our colleagues. and, thank you for being an inspiration to all of us and doing your jobs and doing them well and helping others to do their job and just have a better life.
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so thank you so much and, i would ask unanimous consent that members have five legislative days to submit statements and supporting materials for the record. oh, yes, one more thing. much popcorn joe has popcorn out there for everybody. and so, please, enjoy that and thank you, joe, and ray for providing that for us. and if there is no further business to come before the committee, we're adjourned.
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[inaudible conversations] >> next week in congress the house takes up energy and water spending bill for 2017. they return monday for morning hour speeches at noon eastern and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. live gavel-to-gavel coverage on house on c-span. in the senate members working on a bill to fund sex offender registration efforts. live coverage when they return monday at 3:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> coming up tonight a hearing
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on telemarketing. members of the senate commerce committee hear consumer advocates on the telephone consume every protection act of 1991 and and the rules for solicitation, information dissemination, debt collection and financial assistance by phone among other forms of telemarketing. tune in tonight at 8:00 eastern on your companion network, c-span3. this weekend on the c-span cities tour we'll look at the history of hattiesburg, mississippi. the book, don't hurry me down to haiti. the civil war and those who lived it. it draws on rare letters and diary entries to tell the story of the civil war through the eyes of both soldiers and their family and how important keeping in touch was for those on the battle fiend and those family members back home. >> some women were writing to
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the men on the front, i don't know what you're fighting for but you need to come home. we have 1/5 of a crop and we just buried our youngest and we won't have anything left. you need to come home. >> we'll examine the vietnam war and 1967 experiences of charlie company with author and drew weist, discussing battlefields of vietnam and what soldiers had to fight upon the you return to the united states. >> vietnam veterans have been used as political footballs, as part of a morality play and used as many things, but hardly anybody got to tell their story, who they were as young men before they went, the trauma of war they went through, both as great victories, its funny times, its horrible times. then what happened to them as a generation since they have been home. >> american history tv, the 1966 slaying of civil rights activist vernon dahmer at the hands of the ku klux klan.
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told by his widow and eldest son vernon dahmer, jr. >> for what reason did anyone want to kill my dad? it came as as a result from orders of the head of the klan. said go annihilate them. they came to kill the whole family. >> and learn about the freedom summer school program during the summer of 1964 when volunteers from around the country taught african-americans in mississippi, methods of non-violent resistance and encouraged voter registration. >> there were meetings held throughout the city in various churches, preparing the residents and informing them of their political rights and getting ready to register to vote. >> this weekend, watch c-span's cities tour to hattiesburg, mississippi, 5:30 eastern on c-span's 2 booktv. sunday afternoon on american history tv on c-span3. the epa's acting deputy
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administrator was on capitol hill this week to testify on allegations of misconduct in the agency. he was joined by the agency's assistant inspector general. this hearing of the house oversight and government reform committee is about hour 1/2. >> whit tee on oversight and government reform come to order. without objection the chair authorized to declare a recess at anytime. today's hearing entitled, examining employee misconduct at the epa. a topic we've address ad few times but doesn't seem to be getting better. so we will continue to high lit this as long as it takes because in my opinion the epa is one of the most toxic places in the federal government to work and if you don't get rid of the toxicity at the employees there at the epa we're doing a great disservice to this country. most of them are good, hard-working, patriotic people, they care, they work hard and
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you have some bad apples at the epa and they're not being dealt with and not being addressed. i look forward to talk about this. the ininspector general done good quality work, he and his team and again we will continue to do this until we're convinced that the epa is actually taking care of this problem. today the committee is exploring numerous cases of employee misconduct at the epa while the as the committee on oversight and government reform in addition to the broad responsibility for conducting oversight of the executive branch, we're also the committee of jurisdiction for federal employees. it is our duty to explore the problems in the federal workforce. we've explored misconduct at the epa before and like i said, we will continue to do so until we're convinced there actually has been a change. most notably this committee came inned the extraordinary case of john beale, a senior epa employee reporting to epa air office chief gene that
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mccarthy, who for years falsely claimed to be a cia spy. right under her nose, this went on for a long time. this person ended up going to jail, having to pay, one of the few people actually held accountable, having to go to jail, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution but her supervisor got promotion. she is now epa administrator. itch serious questions about her ability to actually administrate when she had a small office, she couldn't do it. now that she has a large one, these problems continue to persist. unfortunately mr. beale's fraud is not isolated. the head of epa's office of homeland security, the head of epa office of homeland security had lengthy record of sexual harrassment but was not properly investigated. epa region 5 was mired in allegation and sexual harrassment and retaliation against those who tried to do something about it. whistle-blowers blamed region 5
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toxic culture on former region 5 administrator sues hand ahead man who signed under duress because the flint water crisis. epa union representative testified quote, there is a serious lack of accountability or transparency at epa when a manager is the problem, end quote. these incidents represent a systemic cultural problem and failure at the epa. recently the epa inspector general's office released details on investigations of more than 60, 60 days of misconduct closed in the last several months. many of these cases contained disturbing details and i recognize this is c-span and early hour but, parents be foreworned. this is not a subject for young kids at any hour but nevertheless we need to expose it in order to solve it. in one case a convicted child molester, convicted, child molester was on epa payroll for years even after the epa learned
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of this offense. what is so terrible about this situation, just can not explain or justify is, the epa knows that this person has, is a convicted child molester and yet the epa put him in a position to interact with the public. he was out there literally interacting with the public. this person was found to have police sirens placed on their personal vehicle, on their personal car. lights and sirens. handcuffs. counterfit badge. it wasn't until a probation violation that it actually got highlighted and dealt with. in another case an epa employee found to have stolen and pawned thousands of dollars of office equipment. yet was not fired. she admitted taking 7 times equipment in the office and taking it to a pawn shop, putting it in her pocket and she is not fired!
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mr. meiburg actually oversaw this person, not directly but was in his team. it is just unbelievable this person was not fired. after her felony theft conviction, she is still employed at the epa to this day. i just, we got a lot of good, hard-working people who want and need jobs, who will serve this country honorably. why in the world should somebody convicted of stealing from work, a felony conviction, still enjoy the employment and being paid by the united states taxpayers? we have pages and pages of similar cases. one has to wonder if the epa's culture and lack of accountability is a contributing factor to tragedies like the gold king mine spill or the flint drinking water crisis. the status quo can not continue. committee will continue to investigate the epa until cultural changes and managers and employees are held accountable for their failures. people will make mistakes.
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we understand that these are not mistakes. these are patterns of misbehavior that are unacceptable. i introduced a piece of legislation, hr-4360, which actually passed this committee and passed the house. the official personnel file enhancement act which requires a federal agency to record any adverse findings from resolved investigations into a separate employees personnel file. i hope it helps so these employees can not just toggle from one agency to the other without having their information shared with others. the bill prevents employee facing disciplinary action from simply jumping ship to another agency would not be a way wear of their negative disciplinary record. we have another case here where somebody was, there were devices, and air cards that were use excessively. one case a person, in one trip, i don't know how you do this, in up one trip spent $18,000,
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$18,000 on one air card, traveling and no restitution. no, no paying back the government. we have the devices, we have this $4500 in personal international calls while on leave. what was the punishment for that? $4500. taxpayers have to pay that. what was the punishment? counseling. counseling watt punishment. we got lot to talk about. inspector general does a good job on this and i look forward to a good, fruitful hearing. with that we'll now recognize the ranking member, mr. cummings. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. mr. chairman i do thank you for holding today's hearing examining employee misconduct at the environmental protection agency. this is the third hearing of our committee has held on this topic. this congress and i am encouraged that the epa's response to allegations of employee misconduct has vastly
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improved. i like you want it to be effective and efficient. i do not want to constantly hold hearings and hear about be these problems and at some point we should be able to get them resolved. serious employee misconduct is indeed rare but as this committee has seen, too often agency and the inspector general responses to misconduct cases have taken far too long. at the committee's hearing in april 2015, a little over a year ago, i asked the epa and the ig to work together to improve their coordination in employee misconduct matters. i did that again so we could be effective and efficient to get things done as opposed to going around in a circle. i also directed my staff to work directly with epa and the independent g -- the ig, to help
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develop new protocol and displain aniry practices successes. as a result the epa and ig are coordinating their efforts as they never did before but as i often say we can always do better. they're holding biweekly meetings to share information about investigations. we can do even better. they are communicating more frequently about administrative actions. they're sharing reports of investigations with agency managers and senior officials at epa headquarters but we can always do better. epa and the ig have developed expedited procedures for certain cases. the outcomes from improved coordination are indeed promising. both epa and the ig have stated that the new procedures have decreased time it takes for
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action on employee misconduct. in his testimony mr. meiburg from the epa credits the new information sharing process with contributing to epa taking action more quickly after the ig completes an investigation. similarly mr. sullivan from the ig's office agrees, and i want to thank you, mr. sullivan for doing such a great job. and he concluded, that is mr. sullivan said and i quote, misconduct cases are now being addressed faster and more consistently by the epa management, end of quote. but, ladies and gentlemen, we can always do better. as i said, serious misconduct is rare but we have to take it seriously. epa reports that it has only 14 open employee misconduct reports of investigation from the ig. for an epa workforce of some 15,000, that is less than .1 of 1%.
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but we can do better. this committee also has expressed concern about excessive use of administrative leave. that has been a major concern of the committee. in february the agency issued a new policy on administrative leave. under the new policy an epa employee may not, may not be placed on administrative leave for more than 10 days without approval from the assistant administrator of the office of administration and resources management. this policy introduces a check that addresses our concern about overuse of administrative leave and the need for stronger oversight of this type of leave. chairman chaffetz indicated that the hearing today will focus on approximately 20 old cases that have been closed by the ig some years ago. as mr. sullivan states in his some, and i quote, it is important to note that most of
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the misconduct occurred at least two years ago, end of quote. some of these cases the misconduct is in fact egregious and such behavior requires a swift and appropriate agency response. but none of these cases is currently pending. they're all closed. i want to be clear. i don't see anything wrong with looking back because i think sometimes you have to look back to effectively and efficiently move forward. we can learn from things that have happened. so i don't have a problem with that. according to the ep. a and ig all these cases preceded improved coordination process between the epa and the ig, i hope, you, mr. sullivan will address the difference you're seeing and impact and of course i'm sure you have your recommendation. mr. sullivan states that the new coordination process between epa and the ig should serve as i quote, a best practices model
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for the federal government, end of quote. i'm extremely pleased to hear that. it shows what we can do if we work hard with the agencies and investigators to improve their procedures. this type of work does not always get the big headlines, but it make as real difference. also shows that this committee can, what we can do, through nuts and bolts oversight. while i am encouraged by the progress that has been made i believe there's still challenges that we must and can and shall address. for instance, long investigation times in some cases may suggest a need for more resources for the ig. i just don't know. you will have to address that, mr. sullivan. there are certainly other cases raise questions about when employees are required to report criminal convictions. mr. chairman, as we proceed i hope that we can address these challenges together in a truly bipartisan way like we have done
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over the past year with input from the agency and the ig and the other stakeholders because it is a fact if we concentrate and try to get the ig and the agencies to work more closely together, i think we can get the kind of results that we are after and again, we can be more effective and efficient. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. we'll hold the record open for five legislative days for any member who would like to submit a written statement. we will recognize your witnesses. mr. stanley meiburg, acting deputy administrator for the environmental protection agency. we have mr. patrick sullivan, assistant inspector general at the office of the inspector general at the environmental protection agency. he is accompanied by mr. alan williams, deputy assistant inspector general for investigation whose expertise
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may be needed for specificity on certain topics during questioning. we want to thank you you all for being here. we'll go ahead and swear in mr. williams as well. pursuant to committee rules, all witnesses are to be sworn before they testify. we'll also swear in mr. williams. if the three of you would rise and raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give shall be the truth, and nothing but the truth? thank you. let the record reflect all witnesses answered in the affirmative. you have testified here before. i think you know the, know the drill. we try to keep your verbal comments to five minutes but we give you great latitude today. and thin we'll after that, we'll go to questions. so mr. meiburg, you're now recognized for five minutes. >> chairman chaffetz, ranking member cummings and millers about of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today before you about the environmental protection
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agency's efforts to address i am proemisconduct. -- employee misact conduct. i'm stand meiburg, i have been privileged to work at the epa for 40 years. holding positions at washington, d.c., regional offices in atlanta, dallas and in north carolina. for 18 years i served as region 4 deputy administrator before retiring early 2014 since returning to the agency in october 2014, i have been honored to serve as acting deputy ad american straight tore discharging the duties of chief operating officer for the agency. each day i am reminded of the excellent work epa employees do on a before of the american people. from our engineers and scientists in the field to our technical experts and our lawyers here in headquarters. i'm proud to be a part of the agency and its mission to protect human health and the environment. in all work places there are
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employees who engage in misconduct and unfortunately epa is no exception. when such unfortunate instances occur we are committed to holding our employees accountable. we have and will continue to work with the powers granted to us by congress and the administrative tools at our disposal to insure improper conduct is met with appropriate penalties and conversely excellence is recognized accordingly. but i must stress that the isolated misconduct of a few does not reflect and must not overshadow the dedication and hard work of over 15,000 epa employees who commit themselves every day to the important work of the agency. since my appearance before the committee past spring, we made multiple changes to the epa management policies and procedures. epa has taken measures on the first-line supervisors, who carry substantial responsibility
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insuring misconduct is -- we updated first line supervisors tool kit and organized focus groups to be sure we understand their needs to an overall effort to insure supervisors are able to take, fair and legal effective disciplinary action for the betterment of the agency as a whole. in addition, earlier this year as was noted in the ranking member's comments the agency revised it is policy on administrative leave addressing that the -- agency demands additional justification for review of administrative leave requests and limits time period of leave to 10 days with limited exceptions such as when an employee poses a danger to the agency and its employees. finally, earlier this year, epa administrator gina mccarthy issued an agencywide elevation memo encouraging staff to raise issues of concern to managers and instructing managers to be receptive to these concerns. it is our hope that this
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directive, in conjunction with providing training and tools to our employees, will help our first-line supervisors to address misconduct quickly and effectively when issues arise. in addition to our own work, the epa's office of inspector general play as critical role in addressing misconduct and inhadding the agency operate at our business. as a result of the work of this committee and especially ranking member cummings, we have improved our working relationship with the office of inspector general which has enabled us to take more efficient administrative action. we now meet biweekly to discuss the status of pending oig investigations into employee misconduct and have agreed upon procedures and timelines for effective information-sharing. these meetings, and improved bilateral communication contribute to the epa taking action more quickly upon oig's completion of its investigations and help reduced need for additional fact finding by the agency in preparing
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administrative actions. in closing, epa and its employees have spent nearly five decades working to safeguard public health and the environment for the people in this country. i'm proud of what we accomplish every day. on the rare occasions when misconduct occurs, we must address it appropriately. i look forward to discussing the progress that epa has made in this regard with you today. thank you for the opportunity. i look forward to answering any questions you may have. >> thank you. appreciate that. mr. sullivan, you're now recognized. >> good morning chairman chafe gets and ranking members cummings, members of the committee. ooh i will patrick sullivan, assistant general for epa and ig. since i last testified before the committee in april 2014 the internal ajudication process dramatically improved. at suggestion of ranking member cummings and chairman chaffetz they meet biweekly about
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misconduct cases and their adjudication. they are being addressed faster and consistently e. a management. i believe this can serve as best practices model by the u.s. government. many allegations are investigated by the oig and some are ultimately undetermined to be supported. oig investigations often clear an individual. our job is to collect the present. facts in fair and unbiased manner. we're just as proud of our work in cases that clear an employee as we are when our work leads to a criminal conviction. would i like to briefly discuss a few significant cases n 2014 the oig seattle field office special agents interviewed an epa contractor who previously worked for epa for the past 20 years, stating he was addicted to pornography. he admitted to viewing pornography or the government issued computer for last 18 years. in the past year he watched pornography at least once or two hours a day. he avoided detection because he used commercial software to scrub his computer.
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he accessed pornographic sites with search engines hosted in a foreign nation. contractor was fired by the company. oig was successful in recovering $22,000 of repayments, the amount of time the contractor reviewed pornography and they made it aware of network vulnerabilities that enabled the contractor to avoid detection for 18 years n 30 it r 2013 special unit assigned to the criminal investigations division in new haven may have been engaged? ponzi scheme. new participants in this scheme would pay $5,000 gift to the person occupying the top level. the oig investigation determined that the epa, cid special agent made a false statement on a financial disclosure form where she concealed the fact she had received $2500 in cash from her participation in the scheme. in 2015 the special agent retired from the epa. she subsequently pleaded guilty
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to one felony count of making false statements and sentenced to one year probation and ordered to pay $8,000 in fines and restitution. in 2013, oig special agent in the atlanta field office proactively checked list of epa property reportedly lost or stolen through a law enforcement database. this search resulted in a hit on epa digital camera pawned into decatur, georgia. the subsequent oig very revealed on several occasions epa employee pawned epa cameras and camcorders at the pawn shop, as a resulting in loss to the government of $3117. the u.s. attorney declined federal prosecution however we were successful presenting the case to local prosecutor and employee pleaded guilty was sentenced three years probation and ordered to pay restitution. this was felony conviction. the employee's supervisor proposed suspension of employee 120 days. following appeal by employee,
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deputy administrator downgraded suspension to it this days m in 2006, the dallas field office was -- employee was sighted for improper use of emergency lights on his vehicle while also being a registered sex offender. he was convicted in 1997 for indecember acts with a minor. epa administrator had a epa badge which accompanied credentials displayed by the employee to the police officer. in 2006 the u.s. attorney declined to prosecute for false impersonation of federal officer and. epa imposed discipline of 60-day suspension. in 2013 dallas police sex offender unit arrested the same epa employee for violation of probation. he was arrested on probation violation charge. oig developed information that the employee may have viewed and possessed child pornography on his epa computer. however examination of the computer revealed no evidence.
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he was terminated from employment with the epa. subsequently merits system previous tex board overturned termination ordered he be rehired by epa the employee entered into settlement agreement, agreed to resign from the epa in return for certain considerations. we in the oig pledge we will work closely with the agency, indictment of justice and congress to insure that allegations of misconduct are quickly and properly addressed. we appreciate your considered interest in the works of o give. that -- oig. that concludes my statement. thank you very much sir. >> i recognize myself for five minutes. let's go back to the most recent case with the child molester. you said, conclude that part about the merit systems protection board. i mean, based on the brief evidence that you shared with us, scenario of the case, what were the other considerations that he got in order to resign from the epa?
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>> he received a cash settlement of $55,000 i believe. i will have to check -- >> 55, the american people paid him $55,000 to walk away? >> yes. >> but you know the ig is not part of those negotiations. >> i'm not blaming you. you're the ones that actually highlighted this. mr. meiburg, hard to hold you personally responsible for that, how, we had to pay $55,000 to this person? >> mr. chairman, in this particular case which i'm generally aware of, the case as mr. sullivan noted, was one where we had proposed removal and in fact took removal action and were reversed by merit system protection board. >> how do you lose that case? >> it is complicated case. i will not try to go into all the details but the merit system protection board found basis of removal was not sustained so they reversed it.
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>> so is it, i mean it is just pretty stunning, isn't it? what needs to change? you both are close this situation. how do we need to change the merits system protection board? what is not happening we're not protecting american people and taxpayers and we're not protecting employees that have to sit by this freak of a pervert. that, we're not protecting them. how do we protect the employees of the epa and american taxpayers? what do we need to do at merit systems protection board to make changes? >> congressman i would simply note. couple things, we share your desire to protect our own employees from any adverse actions by other employees. so that is a clear area where there is agreement. >> how is it that this person can operate in this atmosphere for so long? i mean, in the case of dallas, how is it that, mr. sullivan, you have looked at this case closely. how is it that this goes undetected for so long?
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it wasn't in our system. >> it didn't go undetected. it was not reported to ig. in knit our investigation re-- 1999 investigation revealed that region on 6 in dallas found out about his conviction and at that time he was stopped again by the police for using lights and sirens. i don't know about the sirens. i know about the emergency lights. that was brought to the attention of epa management. he was counseled told not to do that again but never brought to the attention of the ig in 1999. >> what was his position back in 1999? what was he doing? >> he was an enforcement officer doing civil inspections for the ep a. .
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mister chairman i don't believe there's any particular rule that if an employee is the victim of a crime in general they have to then report that to the agency. >> should that be the case? should they have to report ongoing? >> mister chairman i think that's an issue and we are happy to work with you. >> i'm just asking your personal opinion, do you believe if you're convicted of a felony . >> mister chairman, again i hear my official capacity. >> i say somebody who's convicted as a sex offender, is there an internal policy to prohibit those type of perverts from interacting with the public in person? >> mister chairman, you've asked that question and i do not believe we have the
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authority to issue a policy to that effect and we are not different from other agencies in that regard but it's an important issue and we agree with you on that. >> all right, somebody on this panel better or sponsor a bill to get rid of perverts interacting with the public because this is not acceptable. i can imagine, somebody comes with the authority of the epa badge and then they got sirens or lights on their car and there a registered sex offender? can you see the disconnect why people would be outraged if they showed up at your place of business or work or some mom with their young child and suddenly you encounter this person? how do you stand for that. >> mister chairman again certified enforcement officials have special responsibilities, even more so than ordinary epa employees. >> i cannot believe you lost that case but part of me think you have to work here, let's get the protection board up here and start
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explaining how in the world they think this is in the best interest of the united states of america. my time is expired.we now recognize ms. watson coleman for five minutes. thank you mister chairman, good morning gentlemen, thank you for being here. a lot of these cases, all the cases we are discussing were either resolved in 2014 or 15 so these are kind of old cases, right? since then we've had changes in our policies and practices at the epa that would at least address allegations of misconduct that come before them in terms of resolving them and as well as administrative leave policies, is that not correct? >> yes congresswoman that's correct.we feel like in the last year we've made progress moving forward. i would agree with the
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ranking memberwe can always do better but we feel like we've made considerable progress in having better communications with the office of the inspector general and clearer policies on use of administratively . >> could you explain briefly what specifically has changed that you informed the rank-and-file and the supervisors and what's the process for holding them accountable? aside from just interacting with the oig? >> the interaction, well it's in many ways all over piece. we discussed with our employees the importance of first-line supervisors and their conduct in discipline cases. we also again, as i mentioned on the administratively made sure this cannot be used and the use of administratively has been curtailed for more than 10 days as is the concern of this committee but the interaction involving the inspector general has been important because we refer cases to the inspector general when we have evidence
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of misconduct and asked the inspector general to investigate then and it's been helpful in the course of that investigation to have the interaction we now do so we can be clear that when we get information as quickly as possible, we can move on it . >> thank you, mister solomon ? are you feeling that this interaction is helping to create a better environment and a more protective environment and more accountable environment in the epa? >> yes. >> once you do an investigation, once something has been referred to you, you do an investigation. in addition to your finding do you make any recommendations to the epa about the employee that has been investigated? >> as the head of investigations for the epa we do not make recommendations in our investigative reports. however our auditors and evaluators make recommendations as part of their job but that's a different part of the iga so in a typical misconduct investigation we report the facts and test the facts and we would not make a recommendation. >> you would report the facts to the epa plus the auditing? >> it depends if we saw a
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systematic problem or a problem that was crosscutting. for example, in the deal investigation, from the investigator's standpoint that there was some safeguard that were being filed. for example there were bats proving mister diehl's timely intendants every week which was a vulnerability so we reported that to our auditors and they did an audit but normally our investigations man, we just report the facts considering delegation before us. >> do you feel that we sufficiently moved in the right direction with the epa holding people accountable and developing the kind of information sharing system and accountability system that will mitigate these kinds of cases in the future? i'm not talking about the one about whether or not the individual who was a convicted sex offender should be hired and if so under what conditions but otherwise. >> otherwise i could tell you that in the past year as
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mister mr. meiburg alludes to and mine, in meeting biweekly we have streamlined the process and broken down some barriers and we touched each other as human beings and managers addressing a problem and again, i want to make it crystal clear what our role is in the office of investigations, we report the facts. we have nothing to do with the disciplinary process. >> i have one quick question both of you can answer quickly. are there other things that should be happening either on epa on your side as the manager of the organization or as from your observation as the iga looking into the organization? and we discussed those things, are there things in the work now? >> one thing we had a works, we are trying to get additional employee labor relations support to our supervisors and make sure they have good information on cases that may have come up in the past that are similar
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to the ones they might face. for most of our first-line supervisors to conduct discipline case is a rare thing so when one comes up we want to make sure they had a context with whatever action they make a quick thank you. mister sullivando you have anything to say to that in two seconds? >> we don't have enough agents to do the investigation. we've gone from 360 ftd authorized to 289 and i personally lost 15 to 20 agents can no longer work cases so i'm trying to play catch-up . >> i hope you have less cases you have to investigate. >> i think the gentleman from florida, mister micah is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mister chairman and it's good to full this hearing and review some of the conduct of some of the employers at the epa, an important responsibility in that agency to carry out. i had the opportunity to share civil service on this subcommittee on this panel
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some years ago and i'm a supporter of this civil service system and it was set up decades and decades ago to protect civil servants, public employees from abuse, being politically abused, relieved of their positions. isn't that the case mr. meiburg and mister sullivan? >> yes congressman it is and that's very important that we make sure the system is not now subject to ... >> to take hard-working people and then cast them out on some political basis and i think that should be protected. however, the reports we have here, i have 12 pages of some
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of the most egregious abuses. i can't find any instance in which anyone wasfired . did you say there were 15,000 epa employees? is that correct? >> more than that. >> yes that's correct. >> you say mister sullivan you had 280 investigators. >> no sir, we have 360 five years ago, now we are down to 289 289 staff, and what do they do? x we have investigations. >> so the investigate ... within the ..., i'm sorry they are investigating, looking at revealing the conduct of the 15,000 epa employees? >> ihave 50 agents now that have investigations . >> last year, 2015 how many people were fired from the epa? >> i'd have to defer to mr. meiburg.
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>> mr. meiburg, how many were fired? >> i don't know ... >> were any ever fired for misconduct? >> yes. >> can you supply, do you think it's more than just my fingers and my toes? >> congressman, and i want to be clear about my answer. >> i tell you, almost nobody here got fired. the only one actually dismissed was a contractor. what's troubling is some of the offenses and i just heard that diehl had to pay $55,000 settlement. was that true , mister sullivan? you said you were involved in the settlement. >> that's correct. >> that's the panel file or ... >> that was the child molester. >> we are paying child molesters $35,000. nobody gets fired. here's one epa official in
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washington, gs level xv. gs level xv getting a minimum of 125,000.this guy sat around for years, the past several years and watched porno, getting $125,000 and actually, i think he's still on the job. must be a great job where you can sit around, collect $125,000 a year. it's a $95,000 a year, at least 90,000 a year at dc, a third of the employees epa. found 47 pornographic images as well as a pornographic story written by an employee that contained a description, well, i won't gointo all that for public consumption. the employee was issued a
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notice of proposed removal but retired . nobody gets fired. the way out is, most people either retire. civil service was not set up to protect these folks. it was to protect folks against political manipulation. now, this has to be demoralizing to thousands and thousands of hard working epa officials to see these people who either are involved in misconduct, they were stealing money and i can't find a single instance in which anyone was fired. they mostly retired. and then they retire, they get a pretty good retirement. so they get their regular retirement. there's no penalty to their compensation when they retire, is there? >> congressman, under current
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law there is no penalty. people can retire or resign. >> and that is the mo. you steal, you sit around and watch porno , you get convictions outside and you either voluntarily resigned and go to retirement but nobody gets fired. i yield back. >> i think the gentleman from florida and i recognized the gentleman from maryland, mister cummings for five minutes. >> thank you very very much mister chairman. let me try to understand mister sullivan, there are 14 allegations is that rice was marked. >> that's not 100 percent accurate mister cummings area we have 14 cases pending at the agency in which we've already submitted a report of investigation. we have many, many more in the pipeline that we have not yet written a report of investigation so we have
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approximately 90 pending misconduct cases right now. >> the reason why i ask that is i said to myself, you talk about the agents that are available to investigate and i was saying to myself, 14 cases. i know it takes a lot of manpower but you got about 90 cases that you actually are involved in.>> yes mister cummings but we also have in excess of 150 additional cases, 97 fraud cases, contracting grant fraud cases, we don't have a number of investigations, that investigations, assault investigations. it runs the spectrum. for the misconduct we have currently 90 pending cases, 14 of which are already presented to the agency, awaiting adjudication. the other 76 are in various processes of us investigation . >> when we had a situation where somebody is retired and then commences a serious felony, do they have a duty
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to report, in other words they are already hired. what's the situation there and where do we draw the line there? >> mister cummings it's my understanding that were most epa employees there's no requirement to report either an arrest or a conviction. obviously if you're a law enforcement officer like myself you must report. if you are an attorney you must report. if you work for the ieg you must report or security clearance you must report an arrest or conviction but short of that list, i don't believe there's any requirement for any epa employees report either an arrest or conviction. >> you have an opinion on that? i'm just wondering because i know in one of the cases there was a situation where somebody was convicted after they were hired and with no duty to report, it's very
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interesting because when i practice law i saw a lot of cases, not government cases but others, where people failed to report and they were immediately fired. when they found out but ... are there other agencies where after the list is longer than that? >> mister cummings, for myself i've been a federal law enforcement officer my entire life and work for the fbi and secret service and federal air marshals and in those agencies you absolutely have to immediately report an arrest and certainly a conviction, whether you are carrying a gun or a civilian employee, you have to report so i was a little surprised when it came to epa and learn that the epa rank-and-file did not have to do that. i accepted that as the rules but i was a little curious as to why for the sake of knowing, if you put trust and confidence in an employee it may affect your judgment or
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your decision-making if you knew the person was just convicted of say theft or embezzlement in a private life. >> only, we were just talking about a case where somebody received counseling, some kind of counseling. when you look at the counseling situation there at epa, do you think it's helpful? do you think it's strong enough? do you think, and what and maybe mister mr. meiburg can answer this, what triggers counseling? how do i determine whether somebody should have counseling and then be a part of say keeping them warned and i know you don't have a lot to do with the final say but, mr. meiburg? >> thank you randy members. the short answer is it depends on the case and the nature of the offense. if it's an offense created out of ignorance or simply employee did not know what rule w t

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