FR Doc 2010-13571
[Federal Register: June 7, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 108)]
[Notices]               
[Page 32169-32171]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr07jn10-26]                    
         

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
Comprehensive Centers Program

AGENCY: Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

ACTION: Notice of waivers for the Comprehensive Centers program and 
funding of continuation grants.

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SUMMARY: The Secretary waives the requirements in 34 CFR 75.250 and 
75.261(c)(2) of the Education Department General Administrative 
Regulations (EDGAR) that, respectively, generally prohibit project 
periods exceeding five years and project period extensions involving 
the obligation of additional Federal funds. The waivers enable the 21 
current grantees under the Comprehensive Centers program to continue to 
receive Federal funding beyond the five-year limitation in 34 CFR 
75.250.

DATES: These waivers are effective June 7, 2010.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Frances Walter, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3W113, Washington, DC 20202-
5970. Telephone: (202) 205-9198 or by e-mail: fran.walter@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: 

Background

    Under the Comprehensive Centers program, the Department supports 
grants to operate regional technical assistance centers and national 
content centers as authorized by sections 203 through 207 of the 
Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002 (ETAA) (20 U.S.C. 9602-
9606). The purpose of these centers is to provide technical assistance 
primarily to States as States work to help local educational agencies 
(LEAs) and schools to close achievement gaps in core content areas and 
raise student achievement in schools, and especially to help LEAs and 
schools to implement the school improvement provisions under section 
1116 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended 
(ESEA) in schools in need of improvement, as defined by section 1116(b) 
of the ESEA.
    Eligible applicants for Comprehensive Centers grants are research 
organizations, institutions, agencies, institutions of higher 
education, partnerships among such entities, or individuals, with 
demonstrated ability or capacity to carry out the activities described 
in the notice inviting applications published in the Federal Register 
on June 3, 2005 (70 FR 53283) and corrected in the Federal Register on 
June 20, 2005 (70 FR 35415).
    On March 18, 2010, we published a notice in the Federal Register 
(75 FR 13110) proposing waivers of 34 CFR 75.250 and 34 CFR 
75.261(c)(2) of EDGAR in order to give early notice of

[[Page 32170]]

the possibility that additional years of funding under the 
Comprehensive Centers program may be available for current grantees 
through continuation awards. As outlined in that notice, it would not 
be in the public interest to hold new competitions under the 
Comprehensive Centers program because of the pending reauthorization of 
the ESEA and the ETAA, and the fact that the primary work of the 
Comprehensive Centers is to help States, LEAs, and schools implement 
key school improvement provisions of the ESEA. In addition, it would be 
contrary to the public interest to have a lapse in Comprehensive Center 
services pending these reauthorizations. The comments we received in 
response to the notice of proposed waivers were supportive of the 
Comprehensive Centers program and the proposed waivers.
    For these reasons, the Secretary waives the requirement in 34 CFR 
75.250, which prohibits project periods exceeding five years, and the 
requirement in 34 CFR 75.261(c)(2), which limits the extension of a 
project period if the extension involves the obligation of additional 
Federal funds. With these waivers: (1) Current Comprehensive Centers 
grantees will receive FY 2010 funds and continue to operate through FY 
2011 and possibly beyond, and (2) we will not announce a new 
competition or make new awards under the Comprehensive Centers program 
in FY 2010.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    In response to the Secretary's invitation in the March 18, 2010, 
notice of proposed waivers, two parties submitted comments regarding 
the proposed waivers. An analysis of the comments follows.
    Comment: One commenter identified specific support that a regional 
center and content center have provided in helping a State educational 
agency (SEA) to assist LEAs and schools in closing achievement gaps and 
raising student achievement, especially in those LEAs and schools in 
need of improvement and stated that the waivers would ensure that these 
important services can be continued without interruption.
    Discussion: We note the importance of the support of the 
Comprehensive Centers program for school improvement initiatives and 
agree that it would be contrary to the public interest to have a lapse 
in these services.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter noted the important financial and 
programmatic contributions made by the Office of Special Education 
Programs within the Department's Office of Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) to the Comprehensive Centers. The 
commenter credited these contributions with creating more effective 
communication between the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education 
(OESE) and OSERS, reducing needless duplication of initiatives, and 
increasing integration of content expertise. Finally, the commenter 
urged the Department to continue promoting this shared oversight by 
involving OSERS leadership in deliberations about the future of the 
Comprehensive Centers program.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's identification of the 
valuable contribution of OSERS leadership in supporting the 
Comprehensive Centers program, both financially and programmatically. 
OESE anticipates continuing this positive relationship by involving 
OSERS in discussions about the future of the program.
    Changes: None.
    These waivers of 34 CFR 75.250 and 75.261(c)(2) do not affect the 
applicability of the requirements in 34 CFR 75.253 (continuation of a 
multi-year project after the first budget period) to any current 
Comprehensive Centers grantee that receives a continuation award as a 
result of the waivers.
    In addition, these waivers do not exempt current Comprehensive 
Centers grantees from the account closing provisions of 31 U.S.C. 
1552(a) nor do they extend the availability of funds previously awarded 
to current Comprehensive Center grantees. As a result of 31 U.S.C. 
1552(a), appropriations available for a limited period may be used for 
payment of valid obligations for only five years after the expiration 
of their period of availability for Federal obligation. After that 
time, the unexpended balance of those funds is canceled and returned to 
the U.S. Treasury Department and is unavailable for restoration for any 
purpose. These waivers do not change this requirement.
    These waivers ensure that the important services provided by the 
current Comprehensive Centers grantees will be continued, as the 
Department works on reauthorization of the ESEA and ETAA and designs a 
Comprehensive Centers program that is aligned with the Department's 
technical assistance priorities. During this interim period, the 
activities of the current Comprehensive Centers grantees will be 
modified to support these technical assistance priorities.

Waivers--Comprehensive Centers Program

    The Secretary waives the requirements in 34 CFR 75.250 and 
75.261(c)(2), which prohibit project periods exceeding five years and 
extensions of project periods that involve the obligation of additional 
Federal funds, for the current Comprehensive Centers grantees.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    The Secretary certifies that the waivers will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
    The small entities that will be affected by these waivers are:
    (a) The FY 2005 grantees currently receiving Federal funds; and
    (b) The entities that are eligible for an award under the 
Comprehensive Centers program (i.e., research organizations, 
institutions, agencies, institutions of higher education, partnerships 
among such entities, or individuals, with the demonstrated ability or 
capacity to carry out the activities described in the notice inviting 
applications published in the Federal Register on June 3, 2005 (70 FR 
53283) and corrected in the Federal Register on June 20, 2005 (70 FR 
35415)).
    The Secretary certifies that these waivers will not have a 
significant economic impact on these entities because the waivers and 
the activities required to support the additional years of funding will 
not impose excessive regulatory burdens or require unnecessary Federal 
supervision. The waivers will impose minimal requirements to ensure the 
proper expenditure of program funds, including requirements that are 
standard for continuation awards.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This notice of waivers does not contain any information collection 
requirements.

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 notification of our specific plans and 
actions for this program.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in

[[Page 32171]]

an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or 
computer diskette) on request to the contact person listed under FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

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.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.283B, 
Comprehensive Centers Program)

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 9601-9608.

    Dated: June 2, 2010.
Thelma Mel[eacute]ndez de Santa Ana,
Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.
[FR Doc. 2010-13571 Filed 6-4-10; 8:45 am]
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