US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements
Office of Special Educational and Rehabilitative Services

Functional Statements > Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

B. National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research

The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) administers research programs authorized under:(1) Sections 202 and 204 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (the Act), PL. 93-112, as amended by PL. 95-602; (2) PL.86-610 for international programs related to rehabilitation research; (3) PL. 83-480 for foreign currency programs related to rehabilitation research; and (4) Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988, as amended. The mission of the Institute is to provide leadership and resources for research and its utilization to improve the lives of people of all ages with physical and mental disabilities, especially the severely disabled. The results to be achieved include:

  • identification of the causes and consequences of disability;
  • maximization of the healthy physical and emotional status of persons with disabilities, their functional ability, self-sufficiency, self-development, and personal autonomy;
  • prevention or minimization of personal and family, physical, mental, social, educational, vocational, and economic effects of disability; and
  • reduction and elimination of physical, social, educational, vocational and environmental barriers to facilitate access to service and assistance, and to allow persons with disabilities greater use of their abilities in daily life.

The mechanisms used to achieve these results are:

  • management of a coordinated program of research and demonstrations;
  • promoting the widespread dissemination of research results and other new knowledge both nationally and internationally to individuals with disabilities, families, service providers, researchers, and others through appropriate and accessible media;
  • promoting the use of appropriate assistive technology and the development of coordinated systems of technology services; and
  • promoting the coordination of all disability and rehabilitation research activities conducted by the Federal agencies.

The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation research is headed by a Director and Deputy Director. The Director reports to the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

In accordance with Section 202(c)(2) of the Act, the Deputy Director shall act for the Director during his or her absence or disability, exercising such powers as the Director may prescribe. In the case of any vacancy in the Office of the Director, the Deputy Director shall serve as Director until a Director is appointed.


Office of the Director

This office includes the Director and the Deputy Director.

In performing its responsibilities, the office:

  • manages all internal and external activities of the Institute, including the research, dissemination, and public information programs;
  • provides necessary data and information required by the National Council on Disability;
  • prepares and submits to Congress a long-range plan for rehabilitation research;
  • ensures that the results of research are disseminated to and utilized by service providers, disabled individuals, and the general public;
  • provides direction and guidance to the Institute's scientific peer review; and
  • chairs the Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR), authorized by Section 203 of the Act, and promotes the coordination of disability research throughout the Federal Government. The ICDR is responsible for identifying, assessing, and seeking to coordinate and promote cooperation among all Federal program activities, projects, and plans with respect to the conduct of research related to rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities; facilitating the compilation of information about the status of rehabilitation research sponsored by Federal agencies.

NIDRR is composed of the following functional units:

Research Sciences Division
Program, Budget and Evaluation Division


Research Sciences Division

The Research Sciences Division is responsible for national and international programs in research, training, and technical and clinical evaluation, and is administered by an Associate Director. The Division develops and manages a comprehensive program of contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements that address all of the Institute's research and dissemination activities. In order to carry out its responsibilities, the Division identifies, develops, implements, and manages programs involving technological systems, techniques and devices to overcome environmental barriers, and enable persons with disabilities to maximize their independence, productivity, work, transportation, education, and recreation. The Division is responsible for stimulating industry to develop, market, and distribute aids and devices and determines criteria and standards and set priorities for all NIDRR research, training and evaluation activities in the areas of vocational, behavioral, social, independent living, communication, medical, and technological rehabilitation.

In performing its research program responsibility, the Division:

  • plans, develops, implements, and manages a comprehensive national and international program of research, training, utilization, and evaluation in specific program areas;
  • identifies trends and needs and recommends priorities to the leadership of NIDRR;
  • manages a comprehensive scientific peer review of all grants and contract applications;
  • conducts on site reviews and recommends new awards, continuations, project or center redirection, audits, and terminations;
  • prepares material for application announcements;
  • provides guidance and technical assistance to grantee institutions and potential applicants;
  • performs program officer responsibilities in the peer review of applications and carries on program officer responsibilities during the course of projects;
  • initiates, organizes, and conducts state-of-the-art workshops and assures full participation of the public and private sectors;
  • performs program oversight and monitoring of the progress of grants and contracts, and
  • organizes and convenes interagency subcommittees, and coordinates its activities with other Federal agencies and participates in joint-funding of rehabilitation research and related activities, in collaboration with the IDCR.
  • collaborates with the PPBE Division in developing and publishing regulatory documents, including annual announcements of priorities, grant applications, and fellowship notices;
  • integrates the grants and contracts award processes with postings of financial commitments and obligations in the Department's financial management system, the Education Central Automated Processing System, (EDCAPS), and the subsystem Grant Administration and Payment System (GAPS).
  • schedules grants.
  • commits funds.

In performing its dissemination and utilization functions, the Division:

  • plans, develops, and administers research utilization, public information, public education, and publications which address NIDRR research activities and findings;
  • provides technical expertise to the Interagency Committee on Disability Research, the National Council on Disability, and other agencies and private organizations serving individuals with disabilities;
  • conducts studies to determine innovative techniques and systems for the dissemination and utilization of rehabilitation research findings;
  • manages a national and international technical assistance network that provides information concerning new programs and improved research techniques;
  • manages a comprehensive program to disseminate NIDRR research findings through accessible media to a range of target audiences;
  • enhances the public understanding of the needs, problems, and concerns of disabled individuals through the dissemination of research findings and other data;
  • represents the Director, as appropriate in research forums and with consumers and other Federal agencies and prepares materials as required for speeches and publications.


Program, Budget and Evaluation Division

Program, Budget and Evaluation Division is responsible for planning, identification, implementation, analysis, monitoring, and evaluation of Congressionally-mandated NIDRR activities.

More specifically, the Division:

  • develops and updates the Congressionally-mandated government-wide, long-range research plan, using materials developed by NIDRR, including input from other Federal agencies, the National Council on Disability, and other relevant sources;
  • administers an ongoing assessment of the research needs of service providers, research scientists, and individuals with disabilities;
  • prepares planning and evaluation documents required by OSERS, the Department, OMB, and the Congress;
  • coordinates program assessments in order to prioritize evaluation, regulations development and research priority development;
  • prepares and administers the publication of all regulatory documents, including annual announcements of priorities, grant applications, and fellowship notices;
  • establishes policies and procedures governing the assignment and technical review of all research grants, cooperative agreements, fellowships, and institutional training applications received by NIDRR for the support of rehabilitation research, training, and related activities; and
  • provides recommendations for and executes the NIDRR program and administrative budgets. Monitors all procurement, contracts, grant, cooperative agreements, and interagency agreements. Monitors all personnel actions through appropriate channels as well as, attends to all administrative needs and service for NIDRR including space, communication, furniture, training, supplies, travel and printing.
  • integrates the grants and contracts award processes with postings of financial commitments and obligations in the Departments' financial management system, the Education Central Automated Processing System, (EDCAPS), subsystem Grant Administration and Payment System (GAPS).
  • schedules grants.
  • commits funds.


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Last Modified: 06/28/2004