FR Doc 03-9306
[Federal Register: April 16, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 73)]
[Page 18601-18603]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

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RIN 1820 ZA24

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed priority and selection criterion.


SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services proposes a priority for Collaborative Research 
Projects in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) under the Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) Program under the National 
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). The 
Assistant Secretary may use this priority for competitions in fiscal 
year (FY) 2003 and later years. We take this action to focus research 
attention on an identified national need. We intend this priority to 
improve rehabilitation services and outcomes for individuals with 

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before May 16, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this proposed priority to Donna 
Nangle, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 
3412, Switzer Building, Washington, DC 20202-2645. If you prefer to 
send your comments through the Internet, use the following address:
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle. Telephone: (202) 205-
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the TDD number at (202) 205-4475 or via the Internet:    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 


Invitation to Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding this proposed priority.
    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 this proposed 
priority. 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 this priority in Room 3412, Switzer Building, 330 C 
Street, SW., Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., 
Eastern time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking 

    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 this proposed priority. If you want to schedule 
an appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person listed 
    We will announce the final priority in a notice in the Federal 
Register. We will determine the final priority after considering 
responses to this notice and other information available to the 
Department. This notice does not

[[Page 18602]]

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 this proposed priority, 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 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 either 
(1) awarding additional points, depending on how well or the extent to 
which the application meets the 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 competitive 
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: The proposed priority supports President Bush's New 
Freedom Initiative (NFI). The NFI can be accessed on the Internet at 
the following site:

    The proposed priority is also in concert with NIDRR's Long-Range 
Plan (the Plan), which can be accessed on the Internet at the following 
    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 for integrating research and practice; and (6) 
disseminate findings.

Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) Program

    The purpose of the DRRP Program is to plan and conduct research, 
demonstration projects, training, and related activities that help to 
maximize the full inclusion and integration of individuals with 
disabilities into society and to improve the effectiveness of services 
authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (the Act). 
An applicant for assistance under this program must demonstrate in its 
application how it will address, in whole or in part, the needs of 
individuals with disabilities from minority backgrounds (34 CFR 
350.40(a)). The approaches an applicant may take to meet this 
requirement are found in 34 CFR 350.40(b).

General DRRP Requirements

    [sbull] Involve, as appropriate, individuals with disabilities or 
their family members, or both, and persons who are members of groups 
that have traditionally been underrepresented in all aspects of the 
research as well as in design of clinical services and dissemination 
    [sbull] Demonstrate knowledge of culturally appropriate methods of 
data collection, including understanding of culturally sensitive 
measurement approaches.
    [sbull] Collaborate with other related projects, including the 
other funded Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) projects.



    In 1987, NIDRR established the TBI Model System (TBIMS) program by 
funding four projects to provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary 
rehabilitation services to persons who experience TBI and to conduct 
research to foster advances in TBI rehabilitation. Most recently, in FY 
2002, NIDRR funded 16 TBIMS projects. The focus of these projects is 
research on interventions to improve outcomes for individuals who 
experience TBI. Contact information and abstracts on these 16 TBI Model 
Systems can be found at the National Rehabilitation Information Center 
by scrolling down to the Health and Function chapter, and clicking on the link to the TBI 
    The TBIMS projects serve a substantial number of individuals, 
allowing the projects to conduct clinical and community-based research 
and program evaluation. In addition, TBIMS projects contribute data on 
model systems patients to the TBI National Data Base maintained by the 
TBI National Data Center ( housed at Kessler 
Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Corporation. Information 
is currently collected throughout the rehabilitation process, including 
points following discharge from the rehabilitation facility allowing 
for long-term follow-up of persons with TBI. There are currently over 
3500 cases in this database.
    As discussed, TBI model systems projects provide care to TBI 
survivors, contribute to the national database, and conduct focused 
research projects. NIDRR seeks to build upon the capacity within the 
model systems by providing funding to support large-scale collaborative 
research projects such as randomized trials or observational research 
that requires large sample sizes. These collaborative research efforts 
must include at least three existing model systems projects, but may 
also include non-model systems entities. You may obtain additional 
information about the background of this priority by contacting the 

Proposed Priority

    The Assistant Secretary proposes to fund Traumatic Brain Injury 
collaborative research projects for the purpose of generating new 
knowledge through research to improve treatment and services delivery 
outcomes for persons with TBI. A collaborative research project must:
    (1) Collaborate with three or more of the 16 NIDRR TBI Model 
Systems projects;
    (2) Conduct research on questions of significance to TBI 
rehabilitation, using clearly identified research designs such as 
randomized control trials, observational research methodologies, or 
longitudinal studies. The research must focus on areas identified in 
the NFI and the Plan, ensuring that each project has sufficient sample 
size and methodological rigor to generate robust findings.
    (3) Areas of interest include health and function, technology for 
function, community integration and independent living, employment, and 
long-term outcomes.
    (4) Disseminate research findings to clinical and consumer 
audiences, using accessible formats.
    (5) Evaluate impact of research findings on improved outcomes for 
persons with TBI.

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Proposed Selection Criterion

    The emphasis on research rigor plus the importance of the 
collaborative research program require a modification to the selection 
criteria for this program. The Secretary proposes to add a criterion to 
reflect increased emphasis on research management. This criterion reads 
as follows: There must be a clearly delineated plan for research 
management, with focus on quality controls for data collection, 
management of research protocols, and provisions for oversight at 
collaborating sites.

Executive Order 12866

    This notice of proposed priority 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 notice of proposed priority 
are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have 
determined as necessary for administering this program effectively and 
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this notice of proposed priority, we have 
determined that the benefits of the proposed priority justify the 
    Summary of potential costs and benefits: The potential cost 
associated with this proposed priority is minimal while the benefits 
are significant. Grantees may anticipate costs associated with 
completing the application process in terms of staff time, copying, and 
mailing or delivery. The use of e-Application technology reduces 
mailing and copying costs significantly.
    The benefits of the TBIMS and collaborative projects have been well 
established over the years that similar projects have been completed. 
This proposed priority will generate new knowledge through research to 
improve treatment and services delivery outcomes for persons with TBI 
through collaborative research projects.
    The benefit of this proposed priority and proposed application and 
project requirements will be the establishment of new collaborative 
projects that support the President's NFI.
    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:
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Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in 
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    Note: The official version of this 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:

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

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

    Dated: April 11, 2003.
Robert H. Pasternack,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 03-9306 Filed 4-15-03; 8:45 am]