FR Doc 2010-11357
[Federal Register: May 13, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 92)]
[Notices]               
[Page 26952-26955]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr13my10-38]                         

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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)--Center 
on Employment Policy and Measurement

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.133B-4.

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 for the Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered by 
NIDRR. Specifically, this notice proposes a priority for an RRTC on 
Employment Policy and Measurement. 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 June 14, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this notice to Marlene Spencer, 
U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Room 5133, 
Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2700.
    If you prefer to send your comments by e-mail, use the following 
address: Marlene.Spencer@ed.gov. You must include the term ``Proposed 
Priority for a Center on Employment Policy and Measurement'' in the 
subject line of your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marlene Spencer. Telephone: (202) 245-
7532 or by e-mail: Marlene.Spencer@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.
    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 5142, 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 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 (73 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 must demonstrate in their applications 
how they will address, in whole or in part, the needs of individuals 
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.

[[Page 26953]]

Center on Employment Policy and Measurement

    Background: Despite the enactment of legislation and the 
implementation of a variety of policy and program efforts at the 
Federal and State levels to improve employment outcomes for individuals 
with disabilities during the past 20 years, the rate of employment for 
individuals with disabilities remains substantially lower than the rate 
for those without disabilities. In December 2009, only 18.6 percent of 
persons with a disability were employed, compared to 63.3 percent of 
persons with no disability. (U.S. Department of Labor, 2009). This 
discrepancy in employment rates exists across all sociodemographic 
groups. Additionally, the median earnings for individuals with 
disabilities who are employed are less than $18,000 per year as 
compared to $28,000 per year earned by individuals without disabilities 
(Steinmetz, 2006; U.S. Census Bureau, 2006).
    Research conducted by NIDRR grantees and others has shown that 
Federal and State government policies are critical factors that 
influence the employment status of individuals with disabilities. For 
instance, programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) 
and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have a significant impact on 
employment rates for individuals with disabilities (Fraser et al., 
2004; Goodman & Waidmann, 2003). SSDI and SSI recipients with 
disabilities are less likely to achieve gainful employment than 
individuals with disabilities who do not receive these benefits 
(Goodman & Waidmann, 2003).
    The fear of losing eligibility for public health insurance is 
frequently identified as a major reason that people with disabilities 
work only limited hours or do not seek employment (Livermore & Goodman, 
2009; Stapleton, O'Day, Livermore, & Imparato, 2006). Medicaid Buy-In 
programs may allow some individuals to maintain both employment and 
adequate insurance coverage. While some studies indicate that Medicaid 
Buy-In enrollees increase their average earnings after enrollment, 
there are not yet rigorous data that link participation in these 
Medicaid programs to an increase in employment (Livermore & Goodman, 
2009).
    Despite many efforts to better coordinate these and other Federal 
programs that affect employment outcomes for individuals with 
disabilities, ``[t]here is no Federal system for disability that 
coordinates the many different disability programs and services, and no 
comprehensive lifetime picture of the needs of individuals with 
disabilities'' (U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2005). Although 
many agencies evaluate their own programs, NIDRR's unique mission 
allows it to examine interactions among government programs and the 
collective impact of government policies and programs upon employment 
outcomes among individuals with disabilities.
    As policies emerge and evolve, there is a need for continued 
research on the impact of government policies and programs as they 
shape the environment in which individuals with disabilities attempt to 
enter and stay in the workforce. This research would provide 
information to guide policymakers and other stakeholders, including 
individuals with disabilities and their advocates, as they work to 
develop and implement policies that will lead to positive employment 
outcomes.
    NIDRR is also interested in conducting research to support further 
development of useful measures that will improve understanding of and 
communication regarding employment outcomes. Inconsistent measurement 
in employment research creates uncertainty about the validity of data 
on outcomes such as job retention, hours worked, wage rate and 
benefits, and opportunities for advancement (Loprest, 2007; 
Silverstein, Julnes, & Nolan, 2005; Interagency Committee on Disability 
Research, 2007; Hotchkiss, 2004). The use of common measures and 
metrics will enhance our ability to monitor the effectiveness of 
policies and programs intended to improve employment outcomes for 
individuals with disabilities.
    We have reached a critical point in our ability to understand 
relationships between functional status, health status, access to 
support services and health care, and employment outcomes. This is 
because, for the first time in our history, three national datasets--
the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey, and the 
National Health Interview Survey \1\--will include the same seven 
questions to identify most people with disabilities.
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    \1\ The U.S. Census Bureau conducts data collection for all 
three surveys. The agency sponsors are--
    1. U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau (American 
Community Survey);
    2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for 
Disease Control and Prevention (National Health Interview Survey); 
and
    3. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (Current 
Population Survey).
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    Each of these datasets includes a wealth of additional information 
that can further our understanding of the complex factors that 
facilitate or hinder successful employment outcomes. However, across 
the datasets there is variation in how specific components of 
employment outcomes are measured. Improved methods of linking data 
across these data sets would allow for more and better comparisons of 
employment-related outcome data such as wages and earnings, benefits, 
quality of employment, and job stability. Further research using these 
datasets, as well as research using State surveys and agency data 
sources such as the Rehabilitation Services Administration Case Service 
Report (RSA-911) will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the 
problems in measuring employment outcomes for individuals with 
disabilities. This research can also inform the development of more 
effective means to evaluate the Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants 
Program, the Ticket to Work Program, and other Federal programs 
designed to improve employment rates and other employment outcomes for 
individuals with disabilities.
    References:

    Fraser, R., Vandergoot, D., Thomas, D., & Wagner, C. (2004). 
Employment outcomes research in vocational rehabilitation: 
Implications for Rehabilitation Counselor (RC) training. Journal of 
Vocational Rehabilitation, 20, 135-142.
    Goodman, N. & Waidmann, T. (2003). ``Social Security Disability 
Insurance and the recent decline in the employment rate of people 
with disabilities.'' In Stapleton & Burkhauser (Eds.), The Decline 
in Employment of People with Disabilities: A Policy Puzzle. 
Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, pp. 
339-368.
    Hotchkiss, J.L. (2004). Growing part-time employment among 
workers with disabilities: Marginalization or opportunity? Federal 
Reserve Bank of Atlanta Economic Review, Third Quarter 2004, pp. 25-
40.
    Interagency Committee on Disability Research. (2007). Employer 
perspectives on workers with disabilities: A national summit to 
develop a research agenda. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor.
    Livermore, G. & Goodman, N. (2009). A Review of Recent 
Evaluation Efforts Associated with Programs and Policies Designed to 
Promote the Employment of Adults with Disabilities. Ithaca, NY: 
Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment Policy for 
Persons with Disabilities. See 
http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/edicollect/1262.
    Loprest, P. (2007). Strategic Assessment of the State of the 
Science in Research on Employment for Individuals with Disabilities. 
Final Report. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute. National 
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department 
of Education.
    Silverstein, R., Julnes, G. & Nolan, R. (2005). What 
policymakers need and must demand from research regarding the 
employment rate of persons with disabilities.

[[Page 26954]]

Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 23, 399-448.
    Stapleton, D., O'Day, B., Livermore, G., and Imparato, A. 
(2006). Dismantling the Poverty Trap: Disability Policy for the 21st 
Century. Milbank Quarterly, 84(4), 701-732.
    Steinmetz, E. (2006). Americans With Disabilities: 2002. 
Household Economic Studies Current Population Reports (pp.70-107). 
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.
    U.S. Department of Labor. (2009). Labor force statistics from 
the current population survey. Washington, DC: Bureau of Labor 
Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor. See 
http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsdisability.htm.
    U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2005). Federal 
Disability Assistance: Wide Array of Programs Needs to be Examined 
in Light of 21st Century Challenges. GAO-05-626. Washington, DC: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office. See 
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05626.pdf.

    Proposed Priority:
    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority for a Rehabilitation Research and Training 
Center (RRTC) on Employment Policy and Measurement. The RRTC must 
conduct research, knowledge translation, training, dissemination, and 
technical assistance to advance the understanding of how government 
policies, and changes in policies, affect employment outcomes of 
individuals with disabilities and to expand the capacity of government 
agencies, other policy groups, and consumer organizations to produce 
consistent data related to the employment of individuals with 
disabilities. Under this priority, the RRTC must contribute to the 
following outcomes:
    (a) Increased knowledge of government policies and programs that 
affect employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. The RRTC 
must contribute to this outcome by--
    (1) Conducting rigorous research on the ways in which policies, 
changes in policies, and the interaction of policies such as those 
reflected in the Workforce Investment Act, including the Vocational 
Rehabilitation (VR) State Grants program; the Social Security 
Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs; health 
care initiatives; and other Federal or State programs affect employment 
rates for individuals with disabilities. Examples of such policy topics 
include, but are not limited to, the interaction between income support 
programs, poverty, disability, and employment success; the interaction 
between requirements for the VR State Grants and Ticket to Work 
programs; and the policy barriers to successful transition from youth 
to adulthood for young people with disabilities;
    (2) Assessing existing research findings and other materials such 
as agency documents or data to produce timely policy briefs on emerging 
topics related to employment of individuals with disabilities; and
    (3) Identifying statistical methods that can be used to interpret 
and compare data from different programs and data sets that provide 
information on the employment of individuals with disabilities.
    (b) Improved capacity to measure the employment outcomes of 
individuals with disabilities. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome 
by--
    (1) Identifying or developing a framework that includes common 
measures and metrics that capture the different types of employment 
outcomes for individuals with disabilities, including wages, benefits, 
employment retention and re-entry, and opportunities for advancement, 
and that can be used to analyze and compare data across different 
programs; and
    (2) Validating the new measures and metrics by collecting new data 
or analyzing existing data to determine the properties of these 
measures and metrics and their sensitivity to factors that are 
hypothesized to affect employment among people with disabilities.
    (c) Increased incorporation of research findings from the RRTC 
project into practice or policy. The RRTC must contribute to this 
outcome by--
    (1) Collaborating with stakeholder groups to develop, evaluate, or 
implement strategies to increase utilization of research findings;
    (2) Conducting training and dissemination activities to facilitate 
the utilization of research findings by employers, policymakers, and 
individuals with disabilities; and
    (3) Collaborating and sharing information with other agencies 
across the Federal Government through mechanisms such as the 
Interagency Committee on Disability Research.
    In addition, the RRTC must--
    (1) Establish an Interagency Advisory Group that includes, but is 
not limited to, representatives from the Rehabilitation Services 
Administration (RSA), the Office of Disability Employment Policy, the 
Social Security Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid 
Services, and other agencies, as necessary, to ensure that the policy 
topics address the issues of most concern across key agencies and to 
guide development of the measures' framework;
    (2) Collaborate with appropriate NIDRR-funded grantees, including 
knowledge translation grantees and grantees involved with employment 
research; and
    (3) Collaborate with relevant RSA grantees and NIDRR-funded 
Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers.
    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: Under Executive Order 12866, we have 
assessed the potential costs and benefits of this proposed regulatory 
action and have determined that it is not ``significant'' under the 
terms of that Executive order.
    Intergovernmental Review: This program is not subject to Executive

[[Page 26955]]

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) on request 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: May 6, 2010.
Alexa Posny,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 2010-11357 Filed 5-12-10; 8:45 am]
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