[Federal Register: August 31, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 170)]
[Page 52996-52998]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Rehabilitation Services Administration

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of Final Competitive Preference for Fiscal Year 2001 for 
the Rehabilitation Long-Term Training and Rehabilitation Continuing 
Education Programs.


SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education 
and Rehabilitative Services announces the additions of competitive 
preference points to the competitions for the Rehabilitation Long-Term 
Training and Rehabilitation Continuing Education programs for fiscal 
year 2001. This notice contains describes the additional competitive 
preference points.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This priority is effective on October 2, 2000.

Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, room 3322, Switzer Building, 
Washington, DC 20202-2649. Telephone: (202) 205-8291.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) you may 
call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8399. 
Internet: Mary_Lynch@ed.gov. Individuals with disabilities may obtain 
this document in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the contact person 
listed in the preceding paragraph.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice announces final competitive 
preference points under the Rehabilitation Long-Term Training and 
Rehabilitation Continuing Education programs. These programs are 
authorized under section 302 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as 
    On June 30, 2000 the Assistant Secretary published a notice of 
proposed competitive preference points for these programs in the 
Federal Register (65 FR 40615-40616).

    Note: This notice of final competitive preference points does 
not solicit applications. A notice inviting applications under this 
competition is published in a separate notice in this issue of the 
Federal Register.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    In response to the Assistant Secretary's invitation in the notice 
of proposed competitive preference points, five parties submitted 
comments. An analysis of the comments and of the changes in the 
proposed competitive preference points follows. Technical and other 
minor changes--and suggested changes the Assistant Secretary is not 
legally authorized to make under the applicable statutory authority--
are not addressed.

[[Page 52997]]

    Comment: Two commenters supported the proposed competitive 
preference points.
    Discussion: None.
    Change: None.

    Comment: One commenter expressed a concern that the proposed 
competitive preference points duplicate existing peer review criteria.
    Discussion: While the existing peer review criteria do overlap with 
the proposed competitive preference points, the selection criteria 
relating to outreach to employees with disabilities is included as a 
part of a much broader criterion that includes outreach to all 
underrepresented populations and general issues related to quality of 
project personnel. For this reason, under the current system, the 
impact of hiring people with disabilities on peer reviewer scores is 
    Change: None.

    Comment: One commenter expressed concern about an increased burden 
on the part of an applicant to document past and current practices, 
including counting currently employed persons with disabilities as well 
as numbers of employees with disabilities employed in the past.
    Discussion: The Assistant Secretary does not believe this 
constitutes an unreasonable burden, especially as such information is 
often reported by applicants in response to current selection criteria.
    Change: None.

    Comment: One commenter reported that the majority of long term 
training grants are directly related to student stipend support, with 
little support for recruitment, hiring and retention of staff. 
Therefore it places an additional burden on the applicant organization 
to hire people with disabilities with non-project funding.
    Discussion: The Assistant Secretary believes that hiring of people 
with disabilities is good practice regardless of the source of funds 
used for staff.
    Change: None.

    Comment: One commenter challenged the need for the proposed 
competitive preference points, suggesting that the Department of 
Education should first assess the current degree to which grantees are 
recruiting and hiring persons with disabilities, and the degree to 
which they are having difficulties in doing so. Decisions on 
competitive preference points could be made based upon the results of 
that assessment.
    Discussion: The Assistant Secretary believes that the need is self-
evident, and there is no need for an elaborate assessment to document 
this need.
    Change: None.

    Comment: One commenter expressed concerns about accountability--for 
example, a project may hire or have strategies to hire people with 
disabilities, but not fulfill those strategies once they secure the 
    Discussion: The points are only partially distributed based upon a 
plan or strategy to provide outreach and hire people with disabilities, 
not necessarily the success of their efforts. It is important to note 
that past efforts will likely have substantial influence on the actual 
number of points, if any, an applicant receives.
    Changes: None.

    Comment: Two commenters expressed concern that there may be 
inequities in the way in which applicants define an ``individual with a 
disability'' resulting in unfair application of the competitive 
preference points.
    Discussion: The following ADA definition of an ``individual with 
disability'', will serve as the basis for purposes of competitive 
preference points:
    (i) Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits 
one or more of such person's major life activities;
    (ii) Has a record of such an impairment; or
    (iii) Is regarded as having such an impairment.
    Change: None.

    Comment: Three commenters expressed concern about inequitable 
assignment of points--how the points will be applied--number of people 
with disability, full versus part time, on board versus proposed, 
position on the project, type of disability, etc? One of these 
commenters asked specifically about ``bad timing'' such as a case in 
which the organization has a good track record in hiring people with 
disabilities, but recently loses an employee with a disability. The 
commenter asks if this bad timing will result in a lower score.
    Discussion: Peer reviewers will receive a thorough orientation as 
to the applicability of the points and how to assign them. As suggested 
in the notice of proposed competitive priority, it will focus primarily 
on past history of and strategies for hiring staff with disabilities, 
project staff and plans for outreach to hire additional staff.
    Change: None.

    Comment: Two commenters made note that it may be difficult to 
substantiate information on people with disabilities serving as project 
staff. For example, some people with disabilities prefer not to self 
disclose, and some university policies do not allow their departments 
to require an applicant/employee to report a disability.
    Discussion: Based upon experience with current and former grantees, 
the Assistant Secretary believes that substantiation will be a minor 
    Change: None.

    Comment: Two commenters expressed concerns over how to apply the 
points when compounded by other factors such as the ethnic composition 
of staff and veteran/nonveteran status.
    Discussion: The sole factor addressed in the competitive preference 
points concerns disability. Other factors may be addressed elsewhere in 
the other selection criteria pertaining to a particular competition.
    Change: None.

    Comment: One commenter suggested alternative strategies for 
accomplishing the goal of hiring more people with disabilities by 
OSERS-funded projects, including revising the current scoring system to 
include this dimension and having RSA staff work with existing programs 
where needed.
    Discussion: The Assistant Secretary agrees that these may be 
effective strategies as supplements to the proposed competitive 
preference points, and may consider them independent of the competitive 
preference points.
    Change: None.

    Comment: One commenter noted that there was no documented 
consultation with professional organizations in the formulation of the 
proposed competitive preference points or in the formulation of this 
final notice.
    Discussion: While no consultation is required in the formulation of 
such notices, the notice of proposed competitive preference points is 
an opportunity to obtain comments and input from professional 
organizations and others on these matters.
    Change: None.

    Competitive Preference: The Assistant Secretary will use the 
selection criteria in 34 CFR 385.31, 386.20 and 389.30 to evaluate 
applications under this program. The maximum score for all the criteria 
is 100 points; however, the Assistant Secretary will also use the 
following criterion so that up to an additional ten points may be 
earned by an applicant for a total possible score of 110 points.
    Within the Rehabilitation Long-Term Training and Rehabilitation 
Continuing Education program, we will give the following competitive 
preference under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i) to applications that are 
otherwise eligible for funding under the competitions.
    Up to ten (10) points based on the extent to which an application 

[[Page 52998]]

effective strategies for employing and advancing in employment 
qualified individuals with disabilities in projects awarded under the 
competition. In determining the effectiveness of those strategies, we 
will consider the applicant's prior success, as described in the 
application, in employing and advancing in employment qualified 
individuals with disabilities.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may view this document, as well as all other Department of 
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe 
Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at either of the 
following sites:


    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at either of the preceding sites. If you have questions about 
using the PDF, call the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), toll 
free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in the Washington, D.C. area at (202) 512-

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the 
official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal 
Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://

    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR Parts 385, 386 and 389.

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 774.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number: 84.129 and 84.264, 
the Rehabilitation Long-Term Training, and Rehabilitation Continuing 
Education Program.)

    Dated: August 25, 2000.
Judith E. Heumann,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 00-22244 Filed 8-30-00; 8:45 am]