FR Doc 2010-11616
[Federal Register: May 14, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 93)]
[Notices]
[Page 27327-27329]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr14my10-59]                        

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)--
Effective Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Service Delivery Practices

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.133B-8

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 priority for the Disability and
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered by
NIDRR. Specifically, this notice proposes a priority for an RRTC on
Effective Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Service Delivery Practices.
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 Effective Vocational Rehabilitation Service
Delivery Practices'' 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.
    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 identify
clearly 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 5133, 550 12th Street, SW., PCP,
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 purpose of the Disability and
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program is to plan and
conduct research, demonstration projects, training, and related
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 (Rehabilitation Act) (29 U.S.C.
701 et seq.).

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

[[Page 27328]]

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 also 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.

Effective Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Service Delivery Practices

    Background:
    The Rehabilitation Act calls upon the Federal Government to play a
leadership role in promoting the employment of individuals with
disabilities, especially individuals with significant disabilities, in
part by assisting States and service providers in fulfilling the
aspirations of individuals with disabilities for meaningful and gainful
employment and independent living (29 U.S.C. 701(b)(2)). Thirty-seven
years after the Rehabilitation Act was enacted, VR service
practitioners are providing services to individuals with the most
significant disabilities largely without the benefit of research
documenting the effectiveness of their service models or of specific VR
practices (Pruett, Swett, Chan, Rosenthal, & Lee, 2008).
    According to the Rehabilitation Services Administration's (RSA's)
most recent data, 56 percent of all individuals who exited the VR
program after receiving services under an individualized plan for
employment achieved an employment outcome (RSA's Quarterly Cumulative
Caseload Report (RSA-113)). In the regulations for the Department's
State VR program, an employment outcome is defined as entering or
retaining full-time or, if appropriate, part-time competitive
employment, as defined in 34 CFR 361.5(b)(11), in the integrated labor
market, supported employment, or any other type of employment in an
integrated setting, including self-employment, telecommuting, or
business ownership, that is consistent with an individual's strengths,
resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests,
and informed choice (see 34 CFR 361.5(b)(16)).
    However, there is tremendous variation in the employment outcomes
and the earnings levels among VR customers. More knowledge about what
accounts for the variation in outcomes among VR subpopulations is
needed in order to improve employment outcomes, especially for those
subpopulations with the poorest outcomes. RSA's public access database
(the RSA-911 Case Service Report) provides detailed information on over
600,000 VR case closures per year and is a good source of information
about outcomes among VR customers.
    In addition, while research funded by NIDRR and others has led to
improved knowledge about employment service systems, rehabilitation
technology, VR-related translational research, and interventions for
disability-specific populations, the level of evidence for promising
practices is not yet compelling, leaving VR professionals with few
evidence-based practices (Pruett, Swett, Chan, Rosenthal, & Lee, 2008;
Casper & Carloni, 2007; Dew & Alan, 2005). Research is needed to
identify promising VR practices and to determine the effectiveness of
those practices. Research also is needed to develop, evaluate, and
advance innovative interventions that will improve employment outcomes
for VR customers.

References

Casper, E.S. & Carloni, C. (2007). Assessing the underutilization of
supported employment services. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal,
30(3), 182-188.
Dew, D.W. & Alan, G.M. (Eds.). (2005). Innovative methods for
providing VR services to individuals with psychiatric disabilities
(Institute on Rehabilitation Issues Monograph No. 30). Washington,
DC: The George Washington University, Center for Rehabilitation
Counseling Research and Education.
Pruett, S., Swett, E., Chan, F., Rosenthal., D., & Lee, G. (2008).
Empirical Evidence Supporting the Effectiveness of Vocational
Rehabilitation. Journal of Rehabilitation, 74(1), 56-63.
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. 29 U.S.C. 701 et seq.
U.S. Department of Education. Rehabilitation Services
Administration. (2009). Rehabilitation Services Administration's
Quarterly Cumulative Caseload Report (RSA-113).

    Proposed Priority:
    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative
Services proposes a priority for a Rehabilitation Research and Training
Center (RRTC) on Effective Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Service
Delivery Practices. This RRTC must conduct research that contributes to
new knowledge of VR service delivery practices that produce high-
quality employment outcomes for VR customers. This RRTC will contribute
to improved employment outcomes by generating new knowledge about
effective practices that can be used by State VR agencies in serving
their customers. This RRTC must focus on the delivery of VR services
that are authorized in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended
(Rehabilitation Act) (29 U.S.C. 701 et seq.). NIDRR will fund this
research effort as a cooperative agreement in order to ensure close
interaction between the grantee and staff from NIDRR and the
Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).
    Under this priority, the RRTC must contribute to the following
outcomes:
    (a) Increased knowledge of the variations among State VR agencies
in achieving quality employment outcomes, including but not limited to
wages and hours of work, for subpopulations of individuals with
significant disabilities, as defined in the Rehabilitation Act (29
U.S.C. 705(21)(A) and (D)), who have lower than average employment
outcomes rates, wages, and hours of work. The RRTC must contribute to
this outcome by analyzing relevant RSA datasets that provide
information on the outcomes of these subpopulations of individuals with
significant disabilities and by systematically gathering input from VR
counselors and administrators, RSA staff, VR customers, and community
rehabilitation programs. This analysis will help to identify promising
practices by identifying agencies that demonstrate statistically better
than average employment outcome rates and quality employment outcomes
for these subpopulations of VR customers. The

[[Page 27329]]

RRTC must complete this work within six months of award of the
cooperative agreement.
    (b) Improved knowledge of specific VR service delivery practices
that have strong potential for improving employment outcomes for the
subpopulations of VR customers identified in paragraph (a) of this
priority. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by conducting in-
depth case studies of VR agencies where data demonstrate quality
employment outcomes that are statistically better than average for the
subpopulations of VR customers identified in paragraph (a) above
compared to VR agencies that demonstrate average employment outcomes
for the same subpopulations. NIDRR and RSA staff must approve the
topics for the case studies and the agencies that will serve as sites
for these studies. The applicant must budget to conduct two to three
in-depth case studies. These case studies must identify the elements of
the promising practices, the barriers to and facilitators of the
implementation of the practices, and the outcomes of the practices. The
RRTC must complete this work by the end of year two of the cooperative
agreement.
    (c) New knowledge of VR service delivery practices that are
effective in producing high-quality employment outcomes for VR
customers, especially those identified in paragraph (a) of this
priority. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by conducting
research that rigorously tests the service delivery practices
identified in paragraph (b) of this priority. The RRTC must test at
least one intervention in each of the sites that are the subjects of
the case studies.
    (d) Enhanced likelihood of adoption of service delivery practices
that demonstrate effectiveness as described in paragraph (c) of this
priority. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by developing
implementation strategies and tools that will facilitate introduction
and use of newly identified effective practices in other VR settings.
    In addition, through coordination with the NIDRR Project Officer,
this RRTC must--
     Collaborate with existing RSA grantees, including Regional
Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) Centers, RSA's
Technical Assistance Network, and RSA's National Technical Assistance
Coordinator to disseminate new knowledge to key stakeholders; and
     Collaborate with existing NIDRR grantees, including the
RRTC on VR, the Center on Effective Delivery of Rehabilitation
Technology by VR Agencies, and the Research and Technical Assistance
Center on VR Program Management.
    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.
    Another benefit of this proposed priority is that the establishment
of a new RRTC 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 through VR
services.
    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) 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 11, 2010.
Alexa Posny,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 2010-11616 Filed 5-13-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P