RESPECT OF FLORIDA PROGRAM INFORMATION
Per Florida Statutes, RESPECT's mission is to further the policy of the state to encourage and assist blind and other severely handicapped individuals to achieve maximum personal independence through useful, productive, and gainful employment by assuring an expanded and constant market for their products and services, thereby enhancing their dignity and capacity for self-support and minimizing their dependence on welfare and need for costly institutionalization.
Established in 1974 by the Florida Legislature (Sections 413.032–413.037, Florida Statutes), RESPECT of Florida is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization designated by the Florida Department of Management Services to administer Florida's State Use Program.
State Use Programs, sometimes known as set-asides, are established in more than 20 states. While each has its own structure, rules, and governance, all are modeled to one degree or another after the National Industries for the Severely Handicapped (NISH) AbilityOne federal program that was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, and later amended in 1971 to its current form. NISH was rebranded as SourceAmerica in 2013.
RESPECT is funded through a 6% Central Non-Profit Agency (CNA) Administrative Fee for all of the services and commodities it sells. Because the State Use Program is designed to assist state agencies by simplifying their procurement process, the CNA Fee is paid by its governmental entity buyers. The administrative fee funds RESPECT's fair pricing negotiations in accordance with state specifications, while also ensuring quality assurance oversight.
Operating transparently and in accordance with sound fiscal and business principles, all of RESPECT's revenues go toward the administration of the program with the mutual goal of developing job opportunities for individuals with disabilities and ensuring that RESPECT customers receive quality commodities and services.
Purchasing Through RESPECT
Florida law indicates that RESPECT products and services have a priority purchasing status in governmental procurement decisions. As a benefit, governmental customers can negotiate directly with RESPECT outside of the standard competitive solicitation process, saving government employees valuable time and money. RESPECT works with contract managers at the Department of Management Services to ensure commodities and services are high quality, competitively priced, and delivered timely.
RESPECT commodities and services are available to governmental entities through Florida Department of Management Services State Term Contracts. Pricing for each commodity or service requires cost comparisons, marketing analyses, and review and approval at multiple levels before they receive certification by the Department.
The RESPECT website serves as a virtual storefront for its statewide partner Employment Centers. These community-based non-profits provide a wide array of jobs and training to individuals with disabilities. The commodities and services available through RESPECT's Procurement List are a result of the diverse and inventive employment opportunities.
Everyone benefits when fellow Floridians with disabilities can find steady, gainful employment. New research from the State Use Programs Association (SUPRA) points to increasing proof that State Use programs like RESPECT save taxpayers' money, decreasing the number of individuals with disabilities who are dependent upon welfare and other tax-supported subsidies.
By decreasing the number of Floridians who are dependent upon welfare and other tax-supported subsidies, Florida's overall economy benefits by providing employment opportunities to Floridians with disabilities. Studies by independent firms determined that employing individuals in a program such as RESPECT creates a savings of about $2,400 - $4,700 per person since that person can pay taxes and will require fewer supports.
The collective goal of RESPECT and its partner Employment Centers is to transition all individuals served into competitive and integrated employment in their communities. Although this is not always possible, RESPECT commodities and services employment opportunities provide individuals with the dignity and pride that accompany having a job and becoming contributing members of society.