FR Doc 2010-480[Federal Register: January 14, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 9)]
[Notices]               
[Page 2119-2122]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr14ja10-34]                         

Download: download files

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
(NIDRR)--Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers 
Program--Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs)--Employer 
Practices Related to Employment Outcomes Among Individuals With 
Disabilities

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.133B-3.
AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 
Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of proposed priority.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services proposes a funding priority for the Disability 
and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered 
by NIDRR. Specifically, this notice proposes a priority for RRTCs on 
Employer Practices Related to Employment Outcomes Among Individuals 
with Disabilities. The Assistant Secretary may use this priority for 
competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2010 and later years. We take this 
action to focus research attention on areas of national need. We intend 
this priority to improve rehabilitation services and outcomes for 
individuals with disabilities.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before February 16, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this notice to Donna Nangle, U.S. 
Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 6029, Potomac 
Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2700.

[[Page 2120]]

    If you prefer to send your comments by e-mail, use the following 
address: donna.nangle@ed.gov. You must include the term ``Proposed 
Priority for an RRTC on Employer Practices Related to Employment 
Outcomes Among Individuals with Disabilities'' in the subject line of 
your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle. Telephone: (202) 245-
7462 or by e-mail: donna.nangle@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: This notice of proposed priority is in 
concert with NIDRR's Final Long-Range Plan for FY 2005-2009 (Plan). The 
Plan, which was published in the Federal Register on February 15, 2006 
(71 FR 8165), can be accessed on the Internet at the following site: 
http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/nidrr/policy.html.
    Through the implementation of 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 of integrating research and practice; and (6) disseminate 
findings.
    This notice proposes a priority that NIDRR intends to use for RRTC 
competitions in FY 2010 and possibly later years. However, nothing 
precludes NIDRR from publishing additional priorities, if needed. 
Furthermore, NIDRR is under no obligation to make an award for this 
priority. The decision to make an award will be based on the quality of 
applications received and available funding.

Invitation to Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding this notice. To ensure 
that your comments have maximum effect in developing the notice of 
final priority, we urge you to clearly identify the specific topic 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 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 6029, 550 12th Street, SW., PCP, 
Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 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 purpose of the Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Project and Centers Program is to plan and 
conduct research, demonstration projects, training, and related 
activities, including international activities, to develop methods, 
procedures and rehabilitation technology that maximize the full 
inclusion and integration into society, employment, independent living, 
family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency of individuals 
with disabilities, especially individuals with the most severe 
disabilities, and to improve the effectiveness of services authorized 
under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

RRTC Program

    The purpose of the RRTC program is to improve the effectiveness of 
services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 
through advanced research, training, technical assistance, and 
dissemination activities in general problem areas, as specified by 
NIDRR. Such activities are designed to benefit rehabilitation service 
providers, individuals with disabilities, and the family members or 
other authorized representatives of individuals with disabilities. In 
addition, NIDRR intends to require all RRTC applicants to meet the 
requirements of the General Rehabilitation Research and Training 
Centers (RRTC) Requirements priority that it published in a notice of 
final priorities in the Federal Register on February 1, 2008 (72 FR 
6132). Additional information on the RRTC program can be found at: 
http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/res-program.html#RRTC.

Statutory and Regulatory Requirements of RRTCs

    RRTCs must--
     Carry out coordinated advanced programs of rehabilitation 
research;
     Provide training, including graduate, pre-service, and in-
service training, to help rehabilitation personnel more effectively 
provide rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities;
     Provide technical assistance to individuals with 
disabilities, their representatives, providers, and other interested 
parties;
     Disseminate informational materials to individuals with 
disabilities, their representatives, providers, and other interested 
parties; and
     Serve as centers of national excellence in rehabilitation 
research for individuals with disabilities, their representatives, 
providers, and other interested parties.
    Applicants for RRTC grants also must demonstrate in their 
applications how they will address, in whole or in part, the needs of 
individuals with disabilities from minority backgrounds.
    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(2).
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.
    Proposed Priority: This notice contains one proposed priority.

Employer Practices Related to Employment Outcomes Among Individuals 
With Disabilities

Background

    Individuals with disabilities experience lower rates of employment 
than those without disabilities, and this disparity in employment rates 
is seen across all sociodemographic groups (Steinmetz, 2006; U.S. 
Census Bureau, 2006; U.S. Department of Labor, 2009).
    This disparity in employment rates, as well as differences in other 
aspects of employment (e.g., retention rates, job satisfaction, wages), 
appear to reflect, at least in part, differences in employer practices 
related to hiring, promoting, and retaining employees who have or 
acquire disabilities (U.S. Department of Labor, 2009). While it is 
difficult to obtain employer-level information, there is some recent 
evidence regarding the relationship between employer practices and 
outcomes for individuals with disabilities. In 2008, the Office of 
Disability Employment Policy of the U.S. Department of Labor funded an 
employer survey that examined employer practices related to hiring, 
advancing, and retaining employees with disabilities (U.S. Department 
of Labor, 2009). The study indicated that

[[Page 2121]]

companies reporting that they actively recruit employees with 
disabilities differ from other companies in several domains. For 
example, companies that recruited individuals with disabilities were 
generally less likely than others to identify challenges in hiring 
individuals with disabilities (e.g., accommodation costs, nature of the 
work, concern about health care costs) and were more likely to identify 
strategies that were helpful in recruiting employees with disabilities 
(e.g., developing a targeted recruitment program, visible top 
management commitment, providing flexible work schedules). In addition, 
companies that reported actively recruiting employees with disabilities 
were less likely to have identified the following concerns regarding 
hiring individuals with disabilities: That employing workers with 
disabilities increased the cost of doing business, that workers with 
disabilities lack relevant skills and experience, and that employees 
with disabilities posed greater risks to safety and productivity.
    Analysis of the responses revealed that employer characteristics, 
including company size, sector of the economy, and industry type, were 
related to the employers' responses. Larger employers and employers in 
the public sector were more likely than other employers to report 
employing individuals with disabilities and actively recruiting 
applicants with disabilities. Larger companies were also more likely to 
report having hired employees with disabilities within the last 12 
months. Smaller and medium-sized companies were more likely to report 
that health care costs, workers compensation costs, and fear of 
litigation were challenges in hiring individuals with disabilities. 
When asked about concerns related to hiring employees with 
disabilities, smaller and medium-sized companies were more likely to 
cite concerns about costs of employing individuals with disabilities 
and the belief that workers with disabilities lack relevant skills and 
experience. In contrast, larger companies were more concerned about 
supervisors' uncertainty regarding how to take disciplinary action 
against employees with disabilities. When questioned about perceived 
challenges to retaining employees with disabilities, smaller companies 
expressed greater concerns about the cost of health care coverage and 
workers compensation.
    Responses also varied by organization type. Companies in 
construction, goods-producing, and retail trades were more likely than 
others to indicate that the nature of the work was a challenge in 
hiring individuals with disabilities. Public organizations were more 
likely than private sector agencies to report that they actively 
recruited employees with disabilities.
    The results of this study suggest that organizations of different 
sizes, and from different industries and sectors of the economy, differ 
in employer practices with regard to individuals with disabilities. 
However, these findings are largely based on the attitudes, opinions or 
perceptions of employers, rather than on objectively measured employer 
practices and employment outcomes. Building upon these findings by 
obtaining empirical data about actual employer practices, and further 
investigating the extent to which these practices are associated with 
employment for individuals with disabilities, would inform the 
development of interventions to improve the number and diversity of 
employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

References

Steinmetz, E. (2006). Americans With Disabilities: 2002. Household 
Economic Studies Current Population Reports P70-107 Washington, DC: 
U.S. Census Bureau. See http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/disability/sipp/disable02.html.
U.S. Census Bureau (2006). American Community Survey table B1802: 
Selected Economic Characteristics for the Civilian 
Noninstitutionalized Population By Disability Status. Washington, 
DC: U.S. Census Bureau. See http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/STTable?
_bm=y&-qr_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_S1802&-geo_id=01000US&-ds_name=ACS_2006_EST_
G00_&_-lang=en&-format=&-CONTEXT=st.
U.S. Department of Labor (2009). Survey of Employer Perspectives on 
the Employment of People with Disabilities. See 
http://www.dol.gov/odep/categories/research/index.htm.
U.S. Department of Labor (2009). Labor force statistics from the 
Current Population Survey: Employment status and disability status, 
January 2009. See http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsdisability_012009.htm.

Proposed Priority

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority for a Rehabilitation Research and Training 
Center (RRTC) on Employer Practices Related to Employment Outcomes 
Among Individuals with Disabilities. This RRTC must conduct research 
that contributes to our knowledge about the differences that exist in 
employer practices towards hiring individuals with disabilities and the 
relationship between different practices and employment outcomes for 
individuals with disabilities. This new knowledge will contribute to 
more targeted interventions to improve employer practices related to 
the employment of individuals with disabilities. Under this priority, 
the RRTC must contribute to the following outcomes:
    (a) New knowledge of specific employer practices most strongly 
associated with desired employment outcomes for individuals with 
disabilities and the prevalence of these practices. The RRTC must 
contribute to this outcome by identifying and categorizing employer 
practices related to the hiring, retention, and advancement of 
individuals with disabilities and conducting research on the extent to 
which employers engage in specific practices that have been found in 
relevant research to promote positive employment outcomes for 
individuals with disabilities. Factors that are associated with such 
practices include, but are not limited to: employer size, geographic 
regions, sector of industry or the economy (e.g., private sector, 
public sector, goods-producing, service-producing), employer 
preconceptions, and experience working with vocational rehabilitation 
agencies.
    (b) Increased knowledge about how these practices relate to 
employer success in hiring, retention, and promotion of individuals 
with disabilities. Applicants must propose strategies to collect 
information about these practices and outcomes directly from employers, 
taking into account that it can be difficult to collect information 
about employer practices and outcomes. In addition, applicants are 
encouraged to use existing databases such as those maintained by the 
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Small Business 
Administration, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and 
disability insurance providers.
    (c) Increased incorporation of findings into practice and policy. 
The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by:
    (1) Collaborating with employer groups to develop, evaluate, or 
implement strategies to increase utilization of positive practices 
identified by the RRTC.
    (2) Conducting training and dissemination activities to facilitate 
the utilization of research findings in employment and policy settings.
    In addition, this RRTC must collaborate with:
    (1) Relevant Rehabilitation Services
    Administration grantees, such as the 10 regional Technical 
Assistance and Continuing Education projects.
    (2) Relevant grantees and programs in the Department of Labor, 
including the Office of Disability Employment

[[Page 2122]]

Policy's National Technical Assistance, Policy, and Research Center for 
Employers.

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.

Discussion of Costs and Benefits

    The benefits of the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects 
and Centers Programs have been well established over the years in that 
similar projects have been completed successfully. This proposed 
priority will generate new knowledge through research and development 
activities.
    Another benefit of this proposed priority is that the establishment 
of a new RRTC will support the research and will improve the lives of 
individuals with disabilities. The new RRTC will generate, disseminate, 
and promote the use of new information that will improve the options 
for individuals with disabilities to obtain, retain, and advance in 
employment.

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the 
regulations in 34 CFR part 79.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the Grants and Contracts 
Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., 
room 5075, PCP, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: (202) 245-7363. 
If you use a TDD, call the FRS, toll-free, at 1-800-877-8339.
    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.


    Dated: January 8, 2010.
Alexa Posny,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 2010-480 Filed 1-13-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P