Under the State of New York’s procurement laws, certain providers have “Preferred Source” status under the law. 

The goal of using these providers is to advance special social and economic goals, including employment for people living with disabilities. 

According to a recent report from the Office of New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, people with disabilities have experienced significantly higher rates of unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nonprofit organizations like New York State Industries for the Disabled, Inc. (NYSID) have partnered with disability service providers to create employment opportunities through New York state’s Preferred Source Program.

Recently, NYSID and the New York Alliance for Inclusion & Innovation commissioned the Rockefeller Institute of Government to quantify the economic impacts New York’s disability service providers have on New York state. This study evaluated the output generated and jobs supported by New York’s nonprofit, privately-run disability service providers.

According to the report, New York’s “Preferred Source” program works well, but must be strengthened. 

“The nature of employment opportunities and workplaces have shifted since NYSID was founded in 1974 and a regular review of requirements and thresholds is warranted,” the report stated.

Among the report’s findings:

In 2019, 427 of New York’s nonprofit disability service providers reported $6.7 billion in revenues.

Overall, nonprofit disability service providers:

  • Generated $14.3 billion in economic output in New York state. This includes the $6.7 billion in revenues generated by the providers, $2.5 billion in output for their suppliers, and $5.1 billion related to employee spending.
  • Supported 194,977 full-time jobs with service providers, their suppliers, and in the regional economy
  • Contributed $2.2 billion in federal and state tax revenue

NYSID facilitated a $250.2 million contract portfolio that employed 5,293 workers with a disability. Through these contracts social enterprises:

  • Generated $407.3 million in economic output in New York state
  • Supported the equivalent of 3,569 full-time jobs in all sectors of the economy
  • Generated $108 in economic output for every hour worked by an individual with a disability.

The report recommends the following fixes:

  • Lowering the direct labor requirement from 75 percent to 50 percent, since the “ratio of disabled employment required for PSP contracts was established in the era of sheltered workshops, but is now higher than the ratio legally allowed for integrated businesses as defined by OPWDD.:
  • Raising the price approval threshold for review to $250,000, from $50,000, lowering administrative overhead and allowing “NYSID to more effectively respond to customer needs and expand its client base.”

“The Rockefeller Institute report puts hard numbers to what we’ve been saying for years,” said NYSID President and CEO Maureen O’Brien. “That when people with disabilities have jobs, it helps our entire state.”