FR Doc E9-27197[Federal Register: November 12, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 217)]
[Notices]               
[Page 58260-58262]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr12no09-38]                          

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services--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 proposed priority.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services proposes 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 purpose of this 
center is 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. The Assistant Secretary may 
use this priority for competitions in fiscal year 2010 and later years.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before December 14, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this notice to Ellen Chesley, 
U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Room 5018, 
Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-2800. If you prefer to send 
your comments by e-mail, use the following address: 
Ellen.Chesley@ed.gov. You must include the term ``Capacity Building: 
Technical Assistance for AIVRS Projects'' in the subject line of your 
electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ellen Chesley. Telephone: (202) 245-
7300 or by e-mail: Ellen.Chesley@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:
    Invitation to Comment: We invite you to submit comments regarding 
this notice.
    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 ways we could 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 notice in Room 5018, Potomac Center Plaza, 550 12th 
Street, SW., Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., 
Washington, DC time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 
holidays.
    Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities in Reviewing the 
Rulemaking Record: On request we will provide an appropriate 
accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who 
needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the 
public rulemaking record for this notice. If you want to schedule an 
appointment for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please 
contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    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).

Proposed Priority

    This notice contains one proposed priority.
    Capacity Building Program for Traditionally Underserved 
Populations: Technical Assistance for American Indian Vocational 
Rehabilitation Services Projects.

[[Page 58261]]

Background

    According to the 2000 U.S. Census data, there are approximately 2.5 
million United States citizens who have identified themselves as either 
American Indian or Alaskan Natives and, of that number, more than 
550,000 have disabilities. In addition, section 21(a)(2) of the Act (29 
U.S.C. 718(a)(2)) states that the rate of work-related disability for 
American Indians is about one and one-half times that of the general 
population.
    The AIVRS program authorizes grants to the governing bodies of 
Indian tribes located on Federal and State reservations, and consortia 
of such governing bodies, to carry out VR service projects for American 
Indians with disabilities residing on or near such reservations (CFDA 
84.250A). The Department currently funds 77 of these projects. The 
purpose of these projects is to provide VR services to American Indians 
with disabilities, consistent with their individual strengths, 
resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, 
and informed choice, so that they may prepare for and engage in gainful 
employment, including self-employment, telecommuting, and business 
ownership.
    The Department's Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), 
which oversees the administration of the AIVRS projects, has identified 
specific areas requiring technical assistance and training. These 
include, but are not limited to: Understanding the role and impact of 
the VR counselor and other key personnel on the provision of VR 
services to American Indians with disabilities; 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.
    An assessment of the training and technical assistance needs of 
AIVRS projects conducted in 2002 by the Human Resource Committee of the 
Consortium of Administrators of Native American Rehabilitation (CANAR) 
identified similar training and technical assistance needs, including 
the need for assistance with program and financial management and 
strategies to improve staff recruitment and retention.
    The Department also supported an independent evaluation of the 
AIVRS program conducted in 2000 and 2001 that identified a number of 
technical assistance needs. The final report, published in 2002, 
contained several technical assistance related recommendations, 
including the need for the development of: (1) Orientation materials 
and training for new AIVRS projects; (2) training guidelines for AIVRS 
counselors with limited backgrounds in vocational rehabilitation; (3) 
monitoring and evaluation guidelines for AIVRS projects to strengthen 
internal project assessment and reporting; and (4) strategies to 
increase communication and cooperation between State VR agencies and 
AIVRS projects. (Evaluation of the American Indian Vocational 
Rehabilitation Services Program, June 2002, 
http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/leg/rehab/eval-studies.html#aivrs).
    The Department currently supports ten regional Technical Assistance 
and Continuing Education (TACE) Centers that provide technical 
assistance and continuing education to State VR agencies and other 
entities that partner with State VR agencies (partners). While AIVRS 
grantees are included among the many partners eligible for TACE 
services, the TACE Centers give highest priority to addressing State VR 
agency needs that are identified through RSA's monitoring process and 
partner needs that directly relate to the performance and compliance of 
State VR agencies. Therefore, TACE Centers may not have the capacity or 
resources to address directly the training and technical assistance 
needs of the AIVRS grantees identified in this notice.
    Additionally, RSA conducted three technical assistance and training 
forums for AIVRS grantees in the past two years in centralized 
geographical areas around the United States.
    Despite the existing training and technical assistance resources, 
more intensive training and technical assistance is needed and RSA 
believes it would be more efficient and cost effective to provide such 
support through a technical assistance center that is focused on the 
needs of AIVRS projects in order to improve outcomes for American 
Indians with disabilities.
    Through the ARRA, Congress has appropriated $140,000,000 for the 
Independent Living programs under Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act 
of 1973, as amended (the Act) to be obligated by FY 2010. Under section 
21(b)(1) of the Act, the Department is required to reserve 1 percent of 
the funds appropriated for the fiscal year for programs authorized 
under title VII (and other titles of the Act, but title VII was the 
only one to receive ARRA funding) to carry out section 21, the purpose 
of which is to provide grants to eligible entities to increase the 
capacity of traditionally underserved populations to participate in the 
activities funded under the Act. Section 21(b)(2)(C) of the Act makes 
awards to eligible entities to provide outreach and technical 
assistance to minority entities and American Indian tribes in order to 
enhance their capacity to carry out and to promote their participation 
in activities funded under the Act. For the reasons discussed in this 
notice, the Department intends to propose a priority under this 
authority to fund a grant that will establish a training and technical 
assistance center to support AVIRS projects.

Proposed Priority

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes 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 VR services 
to American Indians with disabilities under the American Indian 
Vocational Rehabilitation Services (AIVRS) program. 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 RSA and the grantee in carrying out the 
activities of the Center. (34 CFR 75.200(b)(4))
    In coordination with the Department, the Center must--
    (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 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 the State VR agency in order to expand the 
ranges of the

[[Page 58262]]

employment choices available for consumers and of the financial 
resources the project can leverage in order to provide the services the 
consumer needs;
    (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 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; and
    (8) Provide technical assistance to build an infrastructure that 
sustains training and technical assistance for these projects.

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)).

Final Priority

    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 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 proposed 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 proposed regulatory action, we have determined 
that the benefits of the proposed priority justify the costs.
    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.
    Executive Order 13175: Executive Order 13175 (``Consultation and 
Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments'') provides that each 
Federal agency must have an accountable process to ensure regular and 
meaningful consultation and collaboration with Indian tribal 
governments or their representative organizations in the development of 
regulatory policies that have tribal implications. Because Indian 
tribal governments will be the beneficiaries of any project funded 
under this priority and because Indian tribal governments are eligible 
applicants for any award made using this priority, we are specifically 
inviting input from Indian tribal officials concerning this notice of 
proposed priority as part of the process of consultation required by 
the Executive order.
    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) on request to the program 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. 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.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html.

    Delegation of Authority: The Secretary of Education has delegated 
authority to Andrew J. Pepin, Executive Administrator for the Office of 
Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, to perform the functions 
of the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services.

    Dated: November 6, 2009.
Andrew J. Pepin,
Executive Administrator for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services.
[FR Doc. E9-27197 Filed 11-10-09; 8:45 am]

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