FR Doc 05-11924
[Federal Register: June 17, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 116)]
[Notices]               
[Page 35363-35365]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr17jn05-147]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research--
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program--
Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers; Grants and Cooperative 
Agreements; Availability

AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 
Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of final priority (NFP) on promoting access to effective 
consumer-centered and community-based practices and supports for adults 
with serious mental illness.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services announces a funding priority for the National 
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research's (NIDRR) 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program, 
Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTC) program. This 
priority may be used for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2005 and 
later years. We take this action to focus research attention on areas 
of national need. We intend this priority to improve rehabilitation 
services and outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

DATES: Effective Date: This priority is effective July 18, 2005.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 6030, Potomac Center Plaza, 
Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 245-7462 or by e-mail: 
donna.nangle@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    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 under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers

    RRTCs conduct coordinated and integrated advanced programs of 
research targeted toward the production of new knowledge to improve 
rehabilitation methodology and service delivery systems, alleviate or 
stabilize disability conditions, or promote maximum social and economic 
independence for persons with disabilities. Additional information on 
the RRTC program can be found at: http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/res-program.html#RRTC
.


General Requirements of Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers

    RRTCs must--
     Carry out coordinated advanced programs of rehabilitation 
research;
     Provide training, including graduate, pre-service, and in-
service training, to help rehabilitation personnel more effectively 
provide rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities;
     Provide technical assistance to individuals with 
disabilities, their representatives, providers, and other interested 
parties;
     Demonstrate in its application how it will address, in 
whole or in part, the needs of individuals with disabilities from 
minority backgrounds;
     Disseminate informational materials to individuals with 
disabilities, their representatives, providers, and other interested 
parties; and
     Serve as centers for national excellence in rehabilitation 
research for individuals with disabilities, their representatives, 
providers, and other interested parties.
    The Department is particularly interested in ensuring that the 
expenditure of public funds is justified by the execution of intended 
activities and the advancement of knowledge and, thus, has built this 
accountability into the selection criteria. Not later than three years 
after the establishment of any RRTC, NIDRR will conduct one or more 
reviews of the activities and achievements of the RRTC. In accordance 
with the provisions of 34 CFR 75.253(a), continued funding depends at 
all times on satisfactory performance and accomplishment of approved 
grant objectives.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    We published a notice of proposed priority (NPP) for this program 
in the Federal Register on March 3, 2005 (70 FR 10378). The NPP 
included a background statement that described our rationale for 
proposing this priority.
    In response to our invitation in the NPP, 17 parties submitted 
comments on the proposed priority. An analysis of the comments and of 
any changes in the priority since publication of the NPP is discussed 
in the Analysis of Comments and Changes section published as an 
appendix to this notice.
    Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes and 
suggested changes we are not authorized to make under the applicable 
statutory authority.


[[Page 35364]]


    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use this final priority, we invite applications 
through a notice in the Federal Register. When inviting applications 
we designate the priority as absolute, competitive preference, or 
invitational. The effect of the priority follows:
    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only 
applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).
    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference 
priority, we give competitive preference to an application by either 
(1) awarding additional points, depending on how well or the extent 
to which the application meets the competitive priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the 
competitive priority over an application of comparable merit that 
does not meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(ii)).
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are 
particularly interested in applications that meet the invitational 
priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the 
priority a competitive or absolute preference over other 
applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).


    Note: NIDRR supports the goals of President Bush's New Freedom 
Initiative (NFI). The NFI can be accessed on the Internet at the 
following site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/newfreedom.


    The final priority is in concert with NIDRR's 1999-2003 Long-Range 
Plan (Plan). The Plan is comprehensive and integrates many issues 
relating to disability and rehabilitation research topics. Applicants 
will find many sections throughout the Plan that support potential 
research to be conducted under the final priority. The references to 
the topic of this priority may be found in the Plan, Chapter 4, Health 
and Function and Chapter 6, Independent Living And Community 
Integration. The Plan can be accessed on the Internet at the following 
site: http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/index.html.

    Through the implementation of the NFI and the Plan, NIDRR seeks to: 
(1) Improve the quality and utility of disability and rehabilitation 
research; (2) foster an exchange of expertise, information, and 
training to facilitate the advancement of knowledge and understanding 
of the unique needs of traditionally underserved populations; (3) 
determine best strategies and programs to improve rehabilitation 
outcomes for underserved populations; (4) identify research gaps; (5) 
identify mechanisms of integrating research and practice; and (6) 
disseminate findings.

Priority

    The Assistant Secretary intends to fund a priority for one RRTC 
that must focus on promoting access to effective consumer-centered and 
community-based practices and supports for adults with serious mental 
illness.
    The RRTC must--
    (1) Identify or develop and evaluate models, methods, and measures 
for improving the quality of mental health outcomes through 
transformation of the service delivery system in a manner that reflects 
and embodies consumer choice. These models, methods, and measures may 
focus on, but are not limited to, self-determination, consumer-centered 
services, consumer choice, and coordination across service systems. All 
of these efforts must be culturally competent and appropriate for 
targeted populations;
    (2) Identify or develop and then evaluate strategies for 
translating evidence-based mental health research findings and best 
practices into effective interventions, including the development of 
tools and supports for providers of mental health or other adjunctive 
services that reflect consumer choice; and
    (3) Identify or develop and evaluate interventions, such as peer 
support services, that help to improve workforce capacity, choice, 
participation, and job longevity for adults with serious mental 
illness.
    In addition to these requirements, the RRTC must--
     Conduct a state-of-the-science conference on its 
respective area of research in the third year of the grant cycle and 
publish a comprehensive report on the final outcomes of the conference 
in the fourth year of the grant cycle. This conference must include 
materials from experts internal and external to the RRTC;
     Coordinate on research projects of mutual interest with 
relevant NIDRR-funded projects as identified through consultation with 
the NIDRR project officer;
     Involve individuals with disabilities in planning and 
implementing its research, training, and dissemination activities, and 
in evaluating the RRTC; and
     Identify anticipated outcomes (i.e., advances in knowledge 
and/or changes and improvements in policy, practice, behavior, and 
system capacity) that are linked to the applicant's stated grant 
objectives.

Executive Order 12866

    This NFP has been reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 
12866. Under the terms of the order, we have assessed the potential 
costs and benefits of this regulatory action.
    The potential costs associated with the NFP are those resulting 
from statutory requirements and those we have determined as necessary 
for administering this program effectively and efficiently.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this NFP, we have determined that the benefits of 
the final priority justify the costs.
    Summary of potential costs and benefits:
    The potential costs associated with this final priority are minimal 
while the benefits are significant. Grantees may incur some costs 
associated with completing the application process in terms of staff 
time, copying, and mailing or delivery. The use of Grants.gov 
technology reduces mailing and copying costs significantly.
    The benefits of the RRTC program have been well established over 
the years in that similar projects have been completed successfully. 
This final priority will generate new knowledge and technologies 
through research, development, dissemination, utilization, and 
technical assistance projects.
    Another benefit of this final priority is that the establishment of 
a new RRTC will support the President's NFI and will improve the lives 
of persons with disabilities, in particular promoting access to 
effective consumer-centered and community-based practices and supports 
for adults with serious mental illness. The new RRTC will generate, 
disseminate, and promote the use of new information that will improve 
options for individuals with disabilities and allow them to perform 
regular activities in the community.
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.

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 the following site: 
http://www.ed.gov/news/fedregister.

    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
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    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://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html
.




[[Page 35365]]


(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.133B 
Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers Program)

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(2).

    Dated: June 13, 2005.
John H. Hager,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

Appendix

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    An analysis of the comments and the changes in the priority 
since publication of the NPP follows.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: After further review of the general requirements of 
an RRTC and the priority requirements, we have changed the location 
of two of the requirements, ``Identify anticipated outcomes (i.e., 
advances in knowledge and/or changes and improvements in policy, 
practice, behavior, and system capacity) that are linked to the 
applicant's stated grant objectives'' has been moved from the 
general requirements of an RRTC to the priority section of the NPP. 
``Demonstrate in its application how it will address, in whole or in 
part, the needs of individuals with disabilities from minority 
backgrounds'' has been moved from the priority section of the NPP to 
the general requirements of an RRTC.
    Change: The location of two of the requirements has been changed 
to better reflect the requirements of an RRTC. This change in the 
structure of the requirements does not change the requirements in 
the NPP.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the first required 
activity was ambiguous. The commenter indicated that the priority 
could be read to require ``improving the quality of practices and 
supports (which should then lead to improved outcomes) or improving 
outcomes per se'.
    Discussion: The goal of this priority is to achieve improved 
outcomes in a variety of domains for individuals with serious mental 
illness. To reach that goal, the applicant may propose a variety of 
means that could improve the quality of practices and supports that 
would facilitate those outcomes. The peer review panel will evaluate 
the models, methods, and measures an applicant proposes.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter raised concerns about the phrase 
``strategies for translating evidence-based mental health research 
findings and best practices into effective interventions'' that is 
in the second required activity. The commenter stated that 
``interventions cannot be considered to be effective if they are not 
already evidence-based, thus evidence-based practices should by 
definition be effective and not require translation--unless the 
priority is addressing specific translational research or the 
adaptation of evidence-based practices for real world naturalistic 
settings (e.g., for communities of color, which might be considered 
to be more dissemination research)''. The commenter further asked 
whether applicants were being encouraged to develop ``toolkits'' for 
practices that do not already have them or to disseminate existing 
evidence-based practices to populations other than those on whom the 
evidence was based.
    Discussion: Evidence-based practices must be used in order to 
benefit the people they are intended to serve; research alone is 
insufficient for improving outcomes. This requirement focuses on 
strategies for translating evidence-based research findings into 
interventions. This can include dissemination and utilization 
activities. Additionally, an applicant may propose a variety of 
methods to achieve the goal of bridging gaps between research and 
implementation. The peer review panel will evaluate the 
methodologies applicants propose.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed confusion about the phrase 
``workforce capacity and choice'' in the third required activity. 
The commenter stated that ``increasing capacity can be done purely 
by hiring additional staff made possible by an infusion of new 
resources, but this may have no impact whatsoever in terms of 
choice. Alternatively, training staff in culturally responsive and 
consumer-centered approaches can increase consumer choice and the 
quality of services, without having any impact on capacity. By 
putting the two terms together are we to understand that they are 
somehow related, for example, increasing specifically the capacity 
of the system for enhancing choice.''
    Discussion: This comment suggests a misunderstanding of the 
target population for the third required activity. This activity 
focuses on interventions that enhance employment opportunities for 
individuals with serious mental illness--not methods of increasing 
provider workforce capacity. The RRTC must identify or develop and 
evaluate interventions that improve job readiness, skills, and 
overall capacity for people with serious mental illness. 
Interventions that strengthen the workforce capacity of workers with 
serious mental illness lead to increased choice. Workers with more 
skills and capacity have more options and choices in the job market 
because they can offer more to employers.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter wrote that persons with psychiatric 
disabilities are a key emerging disability group in the United 
States. The commenter noted that although this population now 
represents one quarter of new state based vocational rehabilitation 
cases, the total number of interventions and effective approaches 
for addressing these needs is quite small. The commenter suggested 
that the third required activity be modified to emphasize the need 
for interventions that help to improve workforce participation and 
job longevity, as well as choice.
    Discussion: We agree that adding the terms participation and job 
longevity would be helpful. As noted in the NPP background 
statement, a number of data sources indicate the need for effective 
programs, services, and supports to improve workforce participation 
for individuals with psychiatric disabilities.
    Changes: The third required activity now includes the phrase 
``participation and job longevity'' and reads, ``Identify or develop 
and evaluate interventions, such as peer support services, that help 
to improve workforce capacity, choice, participation, and job 
longevity for adults with serious mental illness.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the priority be expanded 
to require greater efforts on the part of the mental health and 
disabilities systems in helping clients to access mainstream 
resources such as--housing programs that promote home ownership 
opportunities, vocational opportunities that support consumers who 
want to enter mainstream academic or skill training programs outside 
the mental health system, and social supports that work with 
community groups rather than solely support segregated social 
programs.
    Discussion: NIDRR has long encouraged disability-focused 
providers to draw upon the wide range of generic community supports 
and services. Those resources might expand the range of 
opportunities available to individuals with disabilities. They are 
potential tools and supports for both providers and consumers. 
Within the framework of this RRTC, an applicant could propose 
methodologies to enhance use of such generic programs. The peer 
review panel will evaluate the merits of any activities of this 
nature that the applicant proposes.
    Changes: None.

[FR Doc. 05-11924 Filed 6-16-05; 8:45 am]

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