[Federal Register: September 1, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 171)]
[Notices]               
[Page 53511-53514]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr01se00-175]                         


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Part VI

Department of Education

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National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research; Notice


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research

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

ACTION: Notice of Proposed Funding Priorities for Fiscal Years 2001-
2002 for collaborative projects in spinal cord injury research.

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SUMMARY: We propose funding priorities for collaborative spinal cord 
injury research, a spinal cord injury data center, and a spinal cord 
injury dissemination center under the National Institute on Disability 
and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) for fiscal years 2001-2002. We take 
this action to focus research attention on areas of national need. We 
intend these priorities to improve the rehabilitation services and 
outcomes for individuals with disabilities. This notice contains 
proposed priorities under the Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
Projects and Centers Program.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before October 2, 2000.

ADDRESSES: All comments concerning these proposed priorities should be 
addressed to Donna Nangle, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland 
Avenue, S.W., room 3414, Switzer Building, Washington, D.C. 20202-2645. 
Comments may also be sent through the Internet: donna_nangle@ed.gov

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle. Telephone: (202) 205-
5880. Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf 
(TDD) may call the TDD number at (202) 205-4475. Internet: 
donna_nangle@ed.gov
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternate format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed in the preceding 
paragraph.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Invitation to Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding these proposed 
priorities.
    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific 
requirements of Executive Order 12866 and its overall requirement of 
reducing regulatory burden that might result from these proposed 
priorities. Please let us know of any further opportunities we should 
take to reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while 
preserving the effective and efficient administration of the program.
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about these priorities in Room 3414, Switzer Building, 330 C 
Street SW., Washington, D.C., between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 
p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 
holidays.

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the 
Rulemaking Record

    On request, we will supply an appropriate aid, such as a reader or 
print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs 
assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public 
rulemaking record for these proposed priorities. If you want to 
schedule an appointment for this type of aid, you may call (202) 205-
8113 or (202) 260-9895. If you use a TDD, you may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339.

Goals 2000: Educate America Act

    The Goals 2000: Education America Act (Goals 2000) focuses the 
Nation's education reform efforts on the eight National Education Goals 
and provides a framework for meeting them. Goals 2000 promotes new 
partnerships to strengthen schools and expands the Department's 
capacities for helping communities to exchange ideas and obtain 
information needed to achieve the goals.
    These proposed priorities would address the National Education Goal 
that every adult American will be literate and will possess the 
knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy and 
exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
    The authority for the program to establish research priorities by 
reserving funds to support particular research activities is contained 
in sections 202(g) and 204 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as 
amended (29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764). Regulations governing this program 
are found in 34 CFR Part 350.
    We will announce the final priorities in a notice in the Federal 
Register. We will determine the final priorities after considering 
responses to this notice and other information available to the 
Department. This notice does not preclude us from proposing or funding 
additional priorities, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking 
requirements.

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use these proposed priorities, we invite 
applications through a notice published in the Federal Register. 
When inviting applications we designate each priority as absolute, 
competitive preference, or invitational.

    The proposed priority refers to NIDRR's Long Range Plan (the Plan). 
The Plan can be accessed on the World Wide Web at: http://www.ed.gov/
legislation/FedRegister/other/1999-12/68576.html.

Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project and Centers Program

    The authority for Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects 
(DRRP) is contained in section 204 of the Rehabilitation of 1973, as 
amended (29 U.S.C. 761a and 762a). The purpose of the DRRP program is 
to plan and conduct research, demonstration projects, training and 
related activities to--
    (a) Develop methods, procedures, and rehabilitation technology that 
maximizes the full inclusion and integration into society, employment, 
independent living, family support, and economic and social self-
sufficiency of individuals with disabilities; and
    (b) Improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Act.

Background

    The projects in these proposed priorities are to conduct research 
in collaboration with Centers established under the Special Projects 
and Demonstrations for Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Program. The following 
section provides background information regarding that program to 
assist applicants in developing appropriate collaboration projects.

Special Projects and Demonstrations for Spinal Cord Injury

    The authority for Model Spinal Cord Injury Centers (MSCI) is 
contained in section 204(b)(4) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as 
amended (29 U.S.C. 762(b)(4)). We may make awards for up to 60 months 
through grants or cooperative agreements. The MSCI program provides 
assistance to establish innovative projects for the delivery, 
demonstration, and evaluation of comprehensive medical, vocational, and 
other rehabilitation services to meet the wide range of needs of 
individuals with SCI.
    The MSCI program provides assistance for projects that provide 
comprehensive rehabilitation services to individuals with SCI and 
conduct spinal cord research, including clinical research and the 
analysis of standardized data in collaboration with other related 
projects.
    Each MSCI Center establishes a multidisciplinary system of 
providing rehabilitation services, specifically designed to meet the 
special needs of individuals with SCI. This includes

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acute care as well as periodic inpatient or outpatient follow up and 
vocational services. MSCI Centers demonstrate and evaluate the benefits 
and cost effectiveness of such a system for the care of individuals SCI 
and demonstrate and evaluate existing, new, and improved methods and 
equipment essential to the care, management, and rehabilitation of 
individuals with SCI. MSCI Centers demonstrate and evaluate methods of 
community outreach and education for individuals with SCI in connection 
with the problems of those individuals in areas such as housing, 
transportation, recreation, employment, and community activities.
    NIDRR is in the final selection process for MSCI Centers for the 
period 2000-2005. The priority announcement and notice inviting 
applications were published in the Federal Register on March 16, 2000 
(65 FR 14345-14377). Additional information about the MSCI Centers 
Program is available on the World Wide Web at www.ncddr.org/rpp/hf/
hfdw/mscis and in the special issue ``Current Research Outcomes from 
the Model Spinal Cord Injury Care Systems'', Archives of Physical 
Medicine and Rehabilitation, Vol. 80, No. 11, November 1999.

Proposed Priority for Collaborative Research Projects in Spinal 
Cord Injury

    In the announcement of March 16, 2000 it was indicated that a 
separate competition would be held for collaborative projects in SCI. 
We now propose to establish a priority for those collaborative 
projects. In addition, it is proposed to establish a Data Center to 
maintain and manage the database of information regarding individuals 
with SCI who receive treatment in the MSCI Centers. It is also proposed 
to establish a Dissemination Center to manage the collection and 
dissemination of academic and consumer information developed by those 
centers.

Collaborative Spinal Cord Injury Research Projects

    Estimates of the number of people living with traumatic SCI range 
from 183,000 to 230,000, with an incidence of approximately 10,000 new 
cases each year (``Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures at a Glance,'' 
National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), University of 
Alabama at Birmingham. Although SCI predominately affects young adults 
(56% of SCIs occur among people aged 16-30 years), there is an 
increasing proportion of new SCI cases in the population over 60 years 
of age (NSCISC, ibid.). The true significance of traumatic SCI lies not 
primarily in the numbers affected, but in the substantial impact on 
individuals' lives and the associated substantial health care costs and 
living expenses. A traumatic SCI has far-reaching repercussions on the 
lives of the injured persons and their families that can be devastating 
if not addressed effectively. According to a report from the Agency for 
Health Care Policy and Research (Hospital Inpatient Statistics, 1996, 
AHCPR Publication No. 99-0034), SCI is the most expensive condition or 
diagnosis treated in U.S. hospitals. The estimated lifetime costs for 
an individual injured at the age of 25 range from $365,000 for an 
incomplete injury to more than $1.7 million for an individual with a 
high cervical injury (NSCISC, op cit).
    Collaborative research projects are essential in the development of 
new knowledge for improved treatment and services for people with SCI. 
Multi-center collaboration enables the collection of data from a larger 
number of subjects, increasing the statistical reliability of the 
information. Collaborative research enables projects with a wider range 
of expertise than may be available at a single center. Multi-center 
collaboration may also enable comparisons of different health care 
delivery systems.
    Additionally, multi-center projects may facilitate the inclusion of 
a more diverse range of individuals with SCI than may be available at a 
single center.
    It is a requirement of this proposed priority that the research 
include two or more centers from the MSCI Centers Program. However, to 
achieve the combination of target populations and professional 
expertise necessary to answer relevant questions, collaboration with 
other NIDRR centers and centers supported by the Department of Veterans 
Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and other public and 
private agencies are encouraged. A list of the MSCI Centers for 2000-
2005 will be included in the final announcement of this priority.

Spinal Cord Injury Data Center

    The database of the MSCI Centers Program is a collaborative project 
in which all of the centers participate. The parameters of the database 
are determined by the directors of the centers, in consultation with 
NIDRR. The specification of the database as it is currently implemented 
can be obtained from the National SCI Statistical Center at the 
University of Alabama at Birmingham. The Center may be contacted on the 
World Wide Web at http://www.ncddr.org/rpp/hf/hfdw/mscis/index.html or 
by e-mail at NSCISC@uab.edu or by telephone at (205) 934-5049). The SCI 
data center will maintain the database, provide technical assistance 
regarding data collection, and collaborate with all of the centers to 
publish information from the database. Historically the data center has 
been funded as a supplement to one of the centers in the program. 
However, we propose to establish a separate center to maintain this 
information.

Dissemination Center

    The collection and dissemination of academic and consumer education 
products produced by the centers has been conducted by collaborative 
efforts among the centers in the program. This has resulted in a 
bibliography of articles published in professional journals and a 
database of consumer education materials. We propose to establish a 
center to maintain and continue to collect and disseminate this 
information. This center will be required to collaborate with all of 
the MSCI Centers and collaborative research projects as well as the 
Data Center and other NIDRR supported dissemination centers, the 
National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) and the National 
Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR).

Proposed Priority 1: Collaborative Research in Spinal Cord Injury

    We propose to fund collaborative projects in SCI research for the 
purpose of generating new knowledge through research, development, or 
demonstration to improve outcomes for SCI through improved 
interventions and service delivery models. A collaborative SCI Project 
must:
    (1) Conduct a significant and substantial research project in SCI 
that will contribute to the advancement of knowledge in SCI consistent 
with the Plan.
    Applicants may select from the following examples of research 
objectives related to specific areas of the Plan or other research 
objectives, including those that cut across areas of the Plan:
    (Chapter 3, Employment Outcomes): Either (1) Assess barriers to 
employment of people with SCI; or (2) conduct multi-center evaluation 
of direct intervention strategies for improving employment outcomes.
    (Chapter 4, Maintaining Health and Function): Either (1) conduct 
multi-center evaluations of interventions to improve outcomes in the 
preservation or restoration of function or the prevention and treatment 
of secondary conditions; or (2) assess service delivery models that 
provide quality care under constraints imposed by recent changes in the 
health care financing system.

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    (Chapter 5, Technology for Access and Function): Either (1) conduct 
a multi-center evaluation of the impact of selected innovations in 
technology and rehabilitation engineering on service delivery; or (2) 
assess the impact of selected innovations in technology and 
rehabilitation engineering on outcomes such as function, independence, 
and employment.
    (Chapter 6, Independent Living and Community Integration): Measure 
the environmental factors influencing independence and community 
integration, employment function, and health maintenance.
    (Chapter 7, Associated): Either (1) Evaluate methods to build the 
capacity for rehabilitation services for individuals with SCI; or (2) 
Investigate the impact of national telecommunications and information 
policy on the access of persons with SCI to related education, work, 
and other opportunities.
    (2) Disseminate research and demonstration findings to SCI centers, 
rehabilitation practitioners, researchers, individuals with SCI and 
their families or other authorized representatives, and other public 
and private organizations involved in SCI care and rehabilitation.
    In carrying out these purposes, the project must:
    * Include two or more centers from the MSCI Centers Program.
    * Incorporate culturally appropriate methods of community 
outreach and education in areas such as health and wellness, housing, 
transportation, recreation, employment, and other community activities 
for individuals with diverse backgrounds with SCI;

Proposed Priority 2: Data Center

    We propose to establish a data center to manage and facilitate the 
use of information on individuals with SCI collected by the MSCI 
Centers. The Data Center must:
    (1) Establish a hardware and software system to securely maintain 
data from the MSCI Centers. The system must maintain individual 
confidentiality and provide for data entry, quality control, data 
retrieval, and data analysis.
    (2) Train and provide technical assistance to the MSCI Centers on 
proper data collection methods, data entry, and utilization of the 
database.
    (3) Establish methods and procedures to communicate with NIDRR and 
the directors of the MSCI Centers regarding submissions to the database 
and the quality and utility of data elements.
    (4) Demonstrate the capacity to conduct, facilitate, and 
disseminate research utilizing the database.
    (5) Develop and facilitate methods for linking the data from the 
MSCI Centers with other databases to advance knowledge regarding SCI.
    In carrying out these purposes the center must:
    * Incorporate culturally appropriate methods of community 
outreach and education in areas such as health and wellness, housing, 
transportation, recreation, employment, and other community activities 
for individuals with diverse backgrounds with SCI; and
    * Demonstrate the capacity to provide technical assistance 
to the MSCI Centers and to other related projects regarding database 
development and maintenance.

Proposed Priority 3: Dissemination Center

    We propose to establish a center for the purpose of collecting, 
maintaining and disseminating academic and consumer education materials 
produced by the MSCI Centers and the Collaborative Research Projects in 
SCI. The Dissemination Center must:
    (1) Establish, maintain, and disseminate a bibliography of the 
academic publications of the MSCI Centers and the Collaborative 
Research Projects in SCI.
    (2) Establish a system to collect, maintain, and disseminate 
consumer education materials produced by the MSCI Centers and the 
Collaborative Research Projects in SCI.
    (3) Establish collaborative relationships with NIDRR supported 
dissemination centers, NARIC (www.naric.com) and NCDDR (www.ncddr.org).
    In carrying out these purposes, the project must:
    * Incorporate culturally appropriate methods of community 
outreach and education in areas such as health and wellness, housing, 
transportation, recreation, employment, and other community activities 
for individuals with diverse backgrounds with SCI; and
    * Establish procedures to collaborate with the SCI Data 
Center and other information sources supported by public or private 
agencies to facilitate dissemination of information regarding SCI 
research.

Proposed Additional Selection Criterion

    We will use the selection criteria in 34 CFR 350.54 to evaluate 
applications under this program. The maximum score for all the criteria 
is 100 points; however, we 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.
    Up to ten (10) points based on the extent to which an application 
includes effective strategies for employing and advancing in employment 
qualified individuals with disabilities in projects awarded under this 
absolute priority. 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.
    Thus for purposes of this competitive preference, applicants can be 
awarded up to a total of 10 points in addition to those awarded under 
the published selection criteria for this priority. That is, an 
applicant meeting this competitive preference could earn a maximum 
total of 110 points.
    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 either of the 
following sites:

http://ocfo.ed.gov/fedreg.htm
http://www.ed.gov/news.html

To use the 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, DC, area at (202) 512-
1530.

    Note: The official version of the document is 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.access.gpo.gov/nara/
index.html

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Numbers 84.133A, Disability 
Rehabilitation Research Project)

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 761a(g) and 762a.

    Dated: August 29, 2000.
Curtis L. Richards,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services.
[FR Doc. 00-22431 Filed 8-31-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-U