[Federal Register: June 19, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 118)]
[Page 36875-36878]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

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Part II

Department of Education


Rehabilitation Continuing Education Programs; Notice

[[Page 36876]]


RIN 1820-ZA14

Rehabilitation Continuing Education Programs

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities.


SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education 
and Rehabilitative Services proposes priorities under the 
Rehabilitation Continuing Education Programs. The Assistant Secretary 
may use these priorities for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2003 and 
in later years. We take this action to focus on training in an 
identified area of national need. The purpose of these priorities is to 
select entities to provide leadership for the Institute on 
Rehabilitation Issues (IRI) topic study groups and to plan and conduct 
the National IRI Forum. We intend these priorities to meet the needs of 
our customers by improving the responsiveness of the IRI study process 
to changes in the field of vocational rehabilitation (VR).

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before July 21, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about these proposed priorities to 
Christine Marschall, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, 
SW., Switzer Building, room 3325, Washington, DC 20202-2649. If you 
prefer to send your comments through the Internet, use the following 
address: Christine.Marschall@ed.gov.  
  You must include the term ``Rehabilitation Continuing Education 
Programs'' in the subject line of your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christine Marschall. Telephone: (202) 
205-8926 or via Internet: Christine.Marschall@ed.gov. 
   If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the TDD number at (202) 205-8133.
    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 these proposed 
priorities. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in 
developing the notice of final priorities, we urge you to identify 
clearly the specific proposed priority that each comment addresses.
    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 proposed priorities in room 3036, 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 holidays.

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 these proposed priorities. If you want to 
schedule an appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person 
    The Rehabilitation Continuing Education Programs--
    (a) Train newly employed State agency staff at the administrative, 
supervisory, professional, paraprofessional, or clerical levels in 
order to develop needed skills for effective agency performance;
    (b) Provide training opportunities for experienced State agency 
personnel at all levels of State agency practice to upgrade their 
skills and to develop mastery of new program developments dealing with 
significant issues, priorities, and legislative thrusts of the State 
and Federal vocational rehabilitation program; and
    (c) Develop and conduct training programs for staff of--
    (1) Private rehabilitation agencies and facilities that cooperate 
with State vocational rehabilitation units in providing vocational 
rehabilitation and other rehabilitation services;
    (2) Centers for independent living; and
    (3) Client assistance programs.
    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 

    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 in the Federal Register. When inviting 
applications we designate each priority as absolute, competitive 
preference, or invitational. The effect of each type of priority 

    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 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)).


Proposed Priority 1--Leadership of IRI Primary Study Group Background

    The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) has sponsored 
national study groups currently known as the Institute on 
Rehabilitation Issues (IRI) for 55 years. The IRI process consists of 
groups of between 10 and 15 subject experts from the field of 
rehabilitation, referred to as IRI scholars, known as Primary Study 
Groups (PSG), which meet a minimum of three times over the course of 
the project year to study a selected topic. Two topics are selected 
annually by the RSA Commissioner, in consultation with the IRI planning 
committee, which consists of members from RSA, State VR agencies, 
persons served by State VR agencies, rehabilitation educational 
institutions, and one additional member who is a family member of a 
person with a disability or is a representative of a community-based 
rehabilitation program or an organization of persons with disabilities. 
PSG chairpersons and members are selected by the RSA Commissioner, with 
input from the Council of State Administrators of Vocational 
Rehabilitation, the National Organization of Rehabilitation Partners,

[[Page 36877]]

State VR agencies, consumer organizations, and other stakeholders. 
Through a minimum of two face-to-face meetings and other meetings, as 
necessary, the PSG members collect research data on one of the two 
selected topics, identify relevant professional practices, and develop, 
design, and write a study document that provides in-depth analysis of 
their designated topic as it relates to the practice of public 
rehabilitation. Public rehabilitation is defined for the purpose of 
this priority as the State VR agency and other agencies funded under 
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. Project staff ensures that 
the PSG process includes the input of all PSG members, helps the PSG to 
identify appropriate resources for the review process, and advises the 
PSG in the product design, development, and production. A final 
national meeting of the PSG members and constituents and stakeholders 
of the public rehabilitation system (the National IRI Forum) is 
conducted to review all IRI documents produced in the study year. 
Participants provide input and feedback to the study group regarding 
the documents prior to publication. Each project submits a final draft 
of its IRI document to RSA for review and, upon RSA approval, 
disseminates the document in electronic and hard copy formats to State 
VR agencies, the National Clearinghouse on Rehabilitation Training 
Materials, and other interested entities for use in personnel training 
and service planning. The intent of this priority is to select the 
entity or entities to lead two PSGs annually during the 5-year project 
    Priority: This priority funds projects to lead a PSG on a topic 
selected by the IRI Planning Committee. Projects must demonstrate the 
ability to provide leadership to members of the PSG that results in the 
production of a high quality document in the assigned topic area. 
Projects must ensure that documents are relevant to the public 
rehabilitation system and to the work of VR counselors and accurately 
interpret and integrate the current body of knowledge of the selected 
topic contained in published professional research and demonstrations.
    Specifically, projects must demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of 
and understanding of relevant current and emerging issues in the public 
rehabilitation system, the public VR program, and the continuing 
education needs of VR personnel and related professionals. Projects 
must have the demonstrated ability to direct a rehabilitation research 
investigation in cooperation with a variety of experienced 
    Projects must provide leadership to all phases of the IRI process, 
including assisting PSG members to define the areas of focus for the 
designated topic, to identify and address the continuing education 
needs of personnel of the public rehabilitation system, and to plan and 
write the project document. Projects must ensure that the group product 
meets the expectation of the IRI Planning Committee in terms of content 
areas and depth of review. At the conclusion of the National IRI Forum, 
projects must submit the final version of the IRI document to RSA for 
approval. Projects must distribute the approved document to State VR 
agencies and to others in an accessible format on request for use in 
staff development, training, and service planning.
    Projects must include a plan to meet the communication, 
coordination, logistical, and budgetary requirements necessary to 
conduct at least three in-person meetings of the PSG, one of which must 
take place at the National IRI Forum in Washington, DC, at the end of 
the project year.

Proposed Priority 2--Leadership of the National IRI Forum Background

    The National IRI Forum is held annually in Washington, DC, in May 
of each project year to enable various constituents and stakeholders of 
the public rehabilitation system to provide additional input on the 
draft documents prepared by the IRI study groups. The intent of this 
priority is to select the entity that will plan and lead the National 
IRI Forum to ensure that products of the two IRI PSGs receive a 
thorough review from interested stakeholders prior to publication.
    Priority: This priority funds projects to plan and to lead the 
annual National IRI Forum of PSG members and other stakeholders in each 
year of the project period. Projects must demonstrate in-depth 
knowledge of current, relevant issues in the public rehabilitation 
system and of methods to facilitate professional development and 
continuing education activities. Project staff, in cooperation with the 
IRI Planning Committee, must identify and solicit key stakeholders to 
provide input and feedback on selected IRI topics, and facilitate 
discussion and input sessions of diverse individuals with a wide 
variety of backgrounds so that each of the two IRI PSGs receives 
feedback on its draft document in a collaborative and positive manner.
    Projects must provide a detailed plan for all aspects of the 
planning and coordination of the meeting, including, but not limited 
to, facilitation of document feedback sessions, site planning, 
coordination of accommodations and travel for PSG members funded by the 
project, coordination of accommodations requested by other 
participants, and the provision of on-site support services, including 
the provision of reasonable accommodations upon request. Projects must 
include a description of a process and methods that will result in high 
quality input on the IRI documents presented for review.

Executive Order 12866

    This notice of proposed priorities 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 
priorities are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we 
have determined as necessary for administering these programs 
effectively and efficiently.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this notice of proposed priorities, we have 
determined that the benefits of the proposed priorities justify the 
    We have also determined that this regulatory action does not unduly 
interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of 
their governmental functions.
    Summary of potential costs and benefits: The potential costs 
associated with these proposed priorities are 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-Grants and e-Application technology 
reduces mailing and copying costs significantly. In starting and 
administrating this program, because of the eligibility requirements of 
the Rehabilitation Continuing Education Programs, the successful 
grantee would require no significant costs other than those provided 
for by the grant award funds, with the exception of those accounted for 
by the grantee's required share of the project budget. The grantee's 
cost share obligation is 10 percent.
    The benefits of the IRI process have been well established over the 
years that similar projects have been completed. These proposed 
priorities serve to solicit projects from the full eligibility base 
allowed by program regulations in order to identify the best resources 

[[Page 36878]]

the IRI process. The IRI process brings together diverse professionals 
from rehabilitation to publish and distribute best practices related to 
topics selected based on their immediate relevance to the field. IRIs 
contribute significantly to enhanced staff knowledge and skill and to 
improved service to persons with disabilities throughout the 
rehabilitation field. In addition, because of the nature of the IRI PSG 
process, PSG members establish professional relationships with others 
on a national basis and enhance their own understanding of the topic, 
professional writing, and trends of national importance in the 
rehabilitation field. One anecdotal benefit of IRI participation has 
been that PSG members often return to their employment with an 
increased commitment to rehabilitation. Benefits to the Federal 
Government include the production of a low-cost, high quality tool for 
the training and development of rehabilitation staff, positive regard 
from our professional partners, and improved services to individuals 
with disabilities.

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.
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR parts 385 and 389.

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: 
    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at this site. If you have questions about using 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 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.access.gpo.gov/nara/index.html.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.264A 
Rehabilitation Training--Rehabilitation Continuing Education 

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 772.

    Dated: January 16, 2003.
Robert H. Pasternack,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 03-15416 Filed 6-18-03; 8:45 am]