FR Doc 2010-11606
[Federal Register: May 14, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 93)]
[Notices]
[Page 27322-27324]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr14my10-57]                               

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION


Capacity Building Program for Traditionally Underserved
Populations--Technical Assistance for American Indian Vocational
Rehabilitation Services Projects

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.406.

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

ACTION: Notice of final priority.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and
Rehabilitative Services announces a priority under the Capacity
Building program for Traditionally Underserved Populations to fund a
grant that will establish a training and technical assistance center to
support the projects funded under the American Indian Vocational
Rehabilitation Services (AIVRS) program authorized under section 121 of
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Assistant
Secretary may use this priority for competitions in fiscal year 2010
and later years. We take this action to improve the provision of
vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to, and the employment outcomes
of, American Indians with disabilities through the provision of
training and technical assistance to projects funded under the AIVRS
program.

DATES: Effective Dates: This priority is effective June 14, 2010.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas Finch, U.S. Department of
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Room 5147, Potomac Center Plaza
(PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2800. Telephone: (202) 245-7343 or by e-
mail: tom.finch@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the
Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Purpose of Program: The Capacity Building Program for Traditionally
Underserved Populations under section 21(b)(2)(C) of the Act (29 U.S.C.
718(b)(2)(C)) provides outreach and technical assistance to minority
entities and American Indian tribes in order to enhance their capacity
to carry out activities funded under the Act and to promote their
participation in activities funded under the Act.
    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 718(b)(2)(C).
    We published a notice of proposed priority for this program in the
Federal Register on November 12, 2009 (74 FR 58260). That notice
contained background information and our reasons for proposing the
particular priority.
    Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the notice of
proposed priority, six parties submitted comments on the proposed
priority.
    Generally we do not address technical and other minor changes, or
suggested changes the law does not authorize us to make under the
applicable statutory authority. In addition we do not address general
comments that raised concerns not directly related to the proposed
priority.
    Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments
received follows.
    Comment: Six commenters expressed concern regarding the adequacy of
resources proposed to support the AIVRS technical assistance center
(the AIVRS TA Center). Specifically, these commenters noted that the
amount of funding proposed for the AIVRS TA Center is significantly
less than the funding provided for the Regional Technical Assistance
and Continuing Education (TACE) centers. They also questioned whether
it was sufficient to fund a single center to serve 79 AIVRS grantees
located in 25 States. In addition to concerns about the adequacy of
funding, these commenters emphasized that the AIVRS TA Center will face
geographic, cultural, linguistic, and resource challenges.
    Discussion: In the background discussion of the proposed AIVRS TA
Center priority, the Department indicated that it plans to use American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds in the amount of $1.4
million for one grantee over a five-year period, approximately $280,000
per year. We believe that this is a significant investment that will
help AIVRS projects improve outcomes for American Indians with
disabilities.
    We do not believe it is appropriate to compare the funding for the
AIVRS TA Center with the funding provided to the TACE centers, because
the scope of the services to be provided by the AIVRS TA Center is much
narrower than the scope of services provided by the 10 TACE centers.
The AIVRS TA Center is designed to focus solely on AIVRS grantees'
specialized needs for assistance with program and financial management.
Specifically, the AIVRS TA Center will provide training to AIVRS
grantees on: (1) The principles, requirements, and practices that serve
as the foundation of the VR process and service provision; (2) the
application of Federal rules, regulations, and guidance applicable to
the AIVRS program; and (3) appropriate financial management practices,
including expending grant funds in a timely manner. In contrast, the
purpose of the TACE centers is to provide a broad integrated sequence
of training activities that focuses on meeting the recurring and common
training needs of rehabilitation personnel in a Federal region or other
large multi-State geographical area.
    For this reason, we believe it is not appropriate to compare the
resources used to support the TACE centers with the resources the
Department expects to use to support the AIVRS TA Center.
    Moreover, it is important to note that the work of the AIVRS TA
Center will complement the services provided by the TACE centers,
because AIVRS grantees are among the many State VR agency partners
eligible to receive services from the TACE centers. Therefore, in
addition to the specialized program and financial management assistance
AIVRS grantees can receive through the AIVRS TA Center, they may be
eligible to request technical assistance and continuing education
services from the regional TACE centers.

[[Page 27323]]

    We also believe that the resources available to the AIVRS TA Center
will be sufficient for it to provide its services to AIVRS grantees,
despite the number of grantees and the geographic, cultural, and
linguistic diversity of the projects funded under the AIVRS program. We
anticipate that the AIVRS TA Center will provide training and technical
assistance that is targeted to AIVRS grantees with a demonstrated need
for training that focuses on the areas identified in the priority,
rather than broadly disseminating training on generally applicable
principles to all AIVRS grantees. Furthermore, the Department plans to
use the cooperative agreement process to ensure that the AIVRS TA
Center provides its training and technical assistance in a culturally
appropriate manner to the AIVRS grantees its serves.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Six commenters noted that training and technical
assistance to be provided by the AIVRS TA Center must be delivered in a
culturally appropriate manner to tribal VR directors and staff.
Specifically, the commenters emphasized the need for the AIVRS TA
Center to be under the control and direction of an organization that
appreciates the complexity and diversity of Native American culture and
that has a long-standing record of dealing with culturally diverse
populations.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes the unique nature of the
AIVRS programs. It is precisely for this reason that the Department is
using the available ARRA funds to establish an AIVRS TA Center, which
will focus solely on the technical assistance needs of AIVRS grantees.
We agree that it is essential that the AIVRS TA Center deliver its
training and technical assistance services in a culturally appropriate
manner, and, therefore, we have added such a requirement to the
priority. Moreover, the Department intends to award this grant as a
cooperative agreement to ensure that there is substantial involvement,
communication, and collaboration between the Department and the grantee
in carrying out the activities of the center. Through this involvement,
communication, and collaboration, we intend to ensure that the AIVRS TA
Center fulfills the priority's requirement of providing training and
technical assistance to AIVRS personnel in a culturally appropriate
manner.
    Changes: The Department has added language to the priority that
requires the AIVRS TA Center, in coordination with the Department, to
provide the listed training and technical assistance services in a
culturally appropriate manner.
    Comment: Six commenters requested that the final priority allow the
AIVRS TA Center to use its funds to support formal academic preparation
(at the undergraduate and graduate levels) of existing personnel
employed by AIVRS grantees.
    Discussion: The Department already sponsors both Long-Term and
Short-Term VR Training programs to prepare students and professional
staff interested in careers in VR. Through these programs, AIVRS staff
are eligible to apply for financial support available to individuals
pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in a variety of VR
specialties. As noted earlier in this notice, AIVRS staff may also
receive training from the regional TACE centers, which are designed to
serve State VR agencies and their partners by providing training
activities that focus on meeting the recurrent and common training
needs of employed rehabilitation personnel.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Six commenters stated that there should be linkages
between the existing TACE centers and the AIVRS TA Center in order to
maximize available funding for technical assistance for AIVRS grantees
and State VR agencies.
    Discussion: RSA has identified certain areas where AIVRS grantees
require more intensive technical assistance and training than can be
provided by the TACE centers. These areas include but are not limited
to: understanding the principles, requirements, and practices that
serve as the foundation of the VR process and services provision;
understanding and applying Federal rules, regulations, and guidance
applicable to the AIVRS program; and implementing appropriate financial
management practices, including expending grant funds in a timely
manner. While AIVRS grantees are included among the State VR agency
partners eligible for the services provided by the TACE centers, the
primary focus of the TACE centers is to improve the performance and
compliance of State VR agencies. However, the TACE centers may be able
to provide certain training and technical assistance to AIVRS grantees
that would be beyond the narrow focus of the AIVRS TA Center, but
within the scope of services the TACE centers provide. In order to
ensure that the services of the AIVRS TA Center complement, and do not
unnecessarily duplicate, the services potentially available to the
AIVRS grantees from the TACE centers, the Department has added a
requirement to the priority to address this concern.
    Changes: The Department has added, as one of the requirements of
the AIVRS TA Center under the priority, that the AIVRS TA Center must
collaborate with the regional TACE centers to ensure that the services
provided by the AIVRS TA Center and the TACE centers complement, and do
not unnecessarily duplicate, each other.
    Final Priority:
    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative
Services establishes a priority to support a technical assistance
center under section 21(b)(2)(C) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as
amended (the Act), to improve project management and the delivery of
vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to American Indians with
disabilities under the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation
Services (AIVRS) program (the AIVRS TA Center). The Department intends
to award this grant as a cooperative agreement to ensure that there is
substantial involvement (i.e., significant communication and
collaboration) between the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA)
and the grantee in carrying out the activities of the center. (34 CFR
75.200(b)(4))
    In coordination with the Department, the AIVRS TA Center must, in a
culturally appropriate manner--
    (1) Provide training and technical assistance to AIVRS grantees to
improve their understanding of the principles, requirements, and
practices that serve as the foundation of the VR process and VR service
provision (e.g., the determination of eligibility, the development of
individualized plans for employment, and the requirement to provide
informed consumer choice);
    (2) Provide comprehensive training to AIVRS staff on the regulatory
requirements and grants management practices that are necessary for the
proper administration of AIVRS projects including, but not limited to,
requirements found in 34 CFR parts 369 and 371 and the Education
Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR);
    (3) Provide comprehensive training on requirements and practices
associated with fiscal management found in EDGAR, the cost principles
of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-87, and general
fiscal management practices;
    (4) Provide guidance on the need to utilize community resources and
build relationships with State VR agencies in order to expand the range
of the employment choices available for consumers and of the financial

[[Page 27324]]

resources projects can leverage in order to provide the services
consumers need;
    (5) Provide training on how the AIVRS projects can improve inter-
and intra-tribal communication regarding confidentiality and the
development of cooperative agreements with State VR agencies and
Federal entities (e.g., the Department of the Interior and the Bureau
of Indian Affairs);
    (6) Provide technical assistance on methods associated with
measuring project performance, including the development of goals,
performance measures, and efficiency models, and on the reporting of
performance data;
    (7) Identify other technical assistance and training needs of the
AIVRS projects;
    (8) Provide technical assistance to AIVRS project directors that
will allow them to develop the skills and capacity necessary to train
AIVRS project staff themselves and build an infrastructure that
sustains training and technical assistance for these projects; and
    (9) Collaborate with the regional TACE centers to ensure that the
services provided by the AIVRS TA Center and the TACE centers
complement, and do not unnecessarily duplicate, each other.
    Types of Priorities:
    When inviting applications for a competition using one or more
priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute,
competitive preference, or invitational through a notice in the Federal
Register. The effect of each type of 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 (1)
awarding additional points, depending on the extent to which the
application meets the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2)
selecting an application that meets the 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 priority.
However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a
preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).
    This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional
priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject
to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in
which we choose to use this priority, we invite applications through
a notice in the Federal Register.

    Executive Order 12866: This notice 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 proposed regulatory
action.
    The potential costs associated with this final regulatory action
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 final regulatory action, we have determined
that the benefits of the final priority justify the costs.
    We have determined, also, that this final regulatory action does
not unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the
exercise of their governmental functions.
    We summarized the costs and benefits of this regulatory action in
the notice of proposed priority.
    Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive
Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the
objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental
partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies
on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination
and review of proposed Federal financial assistance.
    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and
actions for this program.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print,
audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the Grants and Contracts
Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW.,
room 5075, PCP, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: (202) 245-7363.
If you use a TDD, call the FRS, toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.
    Electronic Access to This Document: You can view this document, as
well as all other documents of this Department 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 free at
this site.

    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.


    Dated: May 11, 2010.
Alexa Posny,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 2010-11606 Filed 5-13-10; 8:45 am]
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