Federal Register, Volume 76 Issue 55 (Tuesday, March 22, 2011)
[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 55 (Tuesday, March 22, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 15961-15964]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-6711]                      
 


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

[CFDA: 84.133N-1 and 84.133A-15]


Funding Priorities and Selection Criterion; Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems 
Centers and Multi-Site Collaborative Research Projects

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities and selection criterion.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services proposes certain funding priorities and a 
selection criterion for the Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
Projects and Centers Program administered by the National Institute on 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Specifically, this 
notice proposes (1) a priority under the Special Projects and 
Demonstrations for Spinal Cord Injuries Program for SCIMS Centers 
(proposed priority 1), and (2) a priority and selection criterion for 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRPs) that will serve 
as the SCIMS Multi-Site Collaborative Research Projects (proposed 
priority 2). The Assistant Secretary may use one or more of these 
priorities and selection criterion for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 
2011 and later years. We take this action to focus research attention 
on areas of national need.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before April 21, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this notice to Lynn Medley, U.S. 
Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 5140, Potomac 
Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2700.
    If you prefer to send your comments by e-mail, use the following 
address: Lynn.Medley@ed.gov. You must include ``Proposed Priorities for 
SCIMS centers and SCIMS Multi-Site Collaborative Research Projects'' in 
the subject line of your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lynn Medley. Telephone: (202) 245-7338 
or by e-mail: Lynn.Medley@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 priorities and selection criterion is in 
concert with NIDRR's currently approved Long-Range Plan (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 two priorities and a selection criterion that 
NIDRR intends to use for competitions in FY 2011 and possibly later 
years. However, nothing precludes NIDRR from publishing additional 
priorities or selection criteria, if needed. Furthermore, NIDRR is 
under no obligation to make an award for either of these priorities. 
The decision to make awards 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 priorities and selection criterion, we 
urge you to identify clearly the specific priority or selection 
criterion 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 and selection criterion. 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, 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 (Rehabilitation Act).
    Under the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and 
Centers umbrella program, the Department funds projects through a 
number of funding mechanisms, including the Special Projects and 
Demonstrations for Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) Program and Disability 
and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP). The SCIMS centers are 
funded through the Special Projects and Demonstrations for SCI program 
and the SCIMS Multi-Site Collaborative Research Projects are funded as 
DRRPs.

[[Page 15962]]

Special Projects and Demonstrations for Spinal Cord Injuries Program

    The SCIMS centers program is funded through the Special Projects 
and Demonstrations for Spinal Cord Injuries Program. This program 
provides assistance for projects that provide comprehensive 
rehabilitation services to individuals with spinal cord injuries, and 
conducts spinal cord research, as specified in 34 CFR 359.10 and 
359.11.

DRRP Program

    DRRPs are designed to improve the effectiveness of services 
authorized under the Rehabilitation Act by developing methods, 
procedures, and rehabilitation technologies that advance a wide range 
of independent living and employment outcomes for individuals with 
disabilities, especially individuals with the most severe disabilities. 
DRRPs carry out one or more of the following types of activities, as 
specified and defined in 34 CFR 350.13 through 350.19: research, 
training, demonstration, development, dissemination, utilization, and 
technical assistance. An applicant for assistance under this program 
must demonstrate in its application how it will address, in whole or in 
part, the needs of individuals with disabilities from minority 
backgrounds (34 CFR 350.40(a)). The approaches an applicant may take to 
meet this requirement are found in 34 CFR 350.40(b). In addition, NIDRR 
intends to require all DRRP applicants to meet the requirements of the 
General Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) 
Requirements priority that it published in a notice of final priorities 
in the Federal Register on April 28, 2006 (71 FR 25472).
    Additional information on the DRRP program can be found at: 
http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/res-program.html#DRRP.

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 760 and 764(a) and 764(b)(4).

    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350 and 359.
    Proposed Priorities: This notice contains two proposed priorities.

Background

    The SCIMS program is designed to study the course of recovery and 
outcomes following the delivery of a coordinated system of care for 
individuals with SCI. For purposes of this program, SCI is defined as a 
clinically discernible degree of neurologic impairment of the spinal 
cord following a traumatic event. The Department currently supports 14 
SCIMS centers through this program. These centers provide comprehensive 
rehabilitation services to individuals with SCI and conduct SCI 
research, including clinical research and community-based research.
    There is a continued need for research to assist individuals who 
acquire and live with SCI. While SCI remains a low-incidence condition 
(estimates are that there are 12,000 newly acquired SCI in the U.S. 
each year), the number of people surviving SCI continues to grow, 
largely fueled by improved emergency and acute care 
(http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/sci/detail_sci.htm).
    SCI are complex and likely to be long-term. Significant costs are 
associated with SCI because of recurring medical and rehabilitation 
needs, including home and vehicle modifications and personal assistants 
(Priebe et al., 2007). Increased survival rates of individuals with SCI 
have raised new research questions. For instance, research is needed to 
develop rehabilitation interventions that address functional challenges 
experienced by individuals with SCI who are aging (Field and Jette, 
2007; Winkler, 2008). For example, ``overuse syndrome'' is a 
consequence of living with a SCI and manifests itself in degeneration 
of joints and chronic pain in the shoulders and neck and is associated 
with using the arms to propel a wheelchair or transfer from one place 
to another. Chronic pain can be a debilitating secondary condition to 
SCI, and effective, sustainable treatments remain elusive (Hauser and 
Gruen, 2009; Hosalkar, et al., 2009).
    Since 1973, the SCIMS centers have collected and contributed 
information on common data elements for a centralized SCI database, 
referred to as the SCIMS database, which is maintained through a NIDRR-
funded grant for a National Data and Statistical Center.
    As of October 2010, the SCIMS database included initial information 
on 27,553 individuals, with follow-up information on 22,605 
individuals, including 1,034 people who have provided information for 
more than 30 years. Further information about the SCIMS database, 
including inclusion criteria, can be found at the following Web site: 
https://www.nscisc.uab.edu.
    The SCIMS program is the largest network of research centers 
devoted to SCI in the world. The low SCI incidence rate makes 
collaboration across SCIMS centers critical in order to involve 
investigators with the necessary expertise and to combine the number of 
subjects who are available for rigorous testing of interventions 
(Boulenguez & Vinay, 2009). The SCIMS program has evolved into a multi-
site platform that can serve as a resource for testing promising 
interventions. NIDRR funds the SCIMS centers under the Special Projects 
and Demonstrations for SCI program, as well as separate DRRPs that 
serve as SCIMS collaborative research projects. These efforts comprise 
the SCIMS program. Through the priorities proposed in this notice, the 
Department seeks to fund research and other work carried out under this 
program.
    In accordance with section 204(b)(4) of the Rehabilitation Act and 
34 CFR part 359, Proposed Priority 1 would establish SCIMS centers that 
will build upon the work of the currently-funded SCIMS centers to 
provide rehabilitation services to individuals with SCI and conduct SCI 
research.
    Proposed Priority 2, authorized under section 204(a) of the 
Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR part 350, would provide for DRRPs to 
conduct multi-site research that contributes to evidence-based 
rehabilitation interventions and clinical practice guidelines that 
improve the lives of individuals with SCI. These projects are designed 
to serve the overall purpose of the DRRP program.
    To be eligible under Priority 2, an applicant must have received a 
grant under Priority 1. The Department intends to announce the 
competition for Priority 2 awards after selecting grantees from the 
Priority 1 competition. Only successful applicants from the Priority 1 
competition will be eligible to apply for awards under the Priority 2 
competition.

References

Alexander, M.S., Anderson, K.D., Beiring-Sorensen, F., Blight, A.R., 
Brannon. R., Bryce, T.N. Whiteneck, G. 2009). Outcome measures in 
spinal cord injury: recent assessments and recommendations for future 
directions. Spinal Cord, 47: 582-591.
Boulenguez, P. and Vinay, L. (2009). Strategies to restore motor 
functions after spinal cord injury. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 
19(6):587-600.
Field, M.J. and Jette, A.M. (2007). Secondary Conditions and Aging with 
Disability in M.J. Field & A.M. Jette (Eds). The Future of Disability 
in American (pp.136-161). Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Hauser, R.A., Greun, K.A. (2009). The use of prolotherapy in the 
treatment of chronic overuse shoulder and neck pain, neuorgenic pain, 
and hip degeneration in an incomplete C-4-C-5 spinal cord injury 
patient. Journal of Prolotherapy, 3:166-171.
Hosalkera, H. Pandya, N.K., Hsu, J., Keenan, M.A. (2009). What's New in

[[Page 15963]]

Orthopaedic Rehabilitation--Spinal Cord Injury. Journal of Bone & Joint 
Surgery, 91: 2303-2305.
Priebe, M.M., Chiodo, A.E., Scelza, W.M., Kirschblum, S.C., Wuermser, 
L.A., Ho, C.H. (2007. Spinal Cord Injury Medicine. 6. Economic and 
societal issues in spinal cord injury. Archives of Physical Medicine 
and Rehabilitation, 88: S84-S88.
Quarterly Report for the Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (March 2010). 
National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. University of Alabama-
Birmingham. Retrieved from: https://www.nscisc.uab.edu.
Winkler, T. (2008) Spinal Cord and Aging. Retrieved from eMedicine 
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation-Spinal Cord Injury: 
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/322713-overview.

Proposed Priority 1--Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Centers

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority for the funding of Spinal Cord Injury 
Model Systems (SCIMS) centers of care (SCIMS Centers). The SCIMS 
Centers must provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary services to 
individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) as a basis for conducting 
research that contributes to evidence-based rehabilitation 
interventions and clinical and practice guidelines. The SCIMS program 
is designed to generate new knowledge that can be used to improve 
outcomes of individuals with SCI in one or more domains identified in 
NIDRR's currently approved Long Range Plan, published in the Federal 
Register on February 15, 2006, 71 FR 8165: health and function, 
participation and community living, technology, and employment. Each 
SCIMS Center must contribute to this outcome by--
    (a) Providing a multidisciplinary system of rehabilitation care 
specifically designed to meet the needs of individuals with SCI. The 
system must encompass a continuum of care, including emergency medical 
services, acute care services, acute medical rehabilitation services, 
and post-acute services;
    (b) Continuing the assessment of long-term outcomes of individuals 
with SCI by enrolling at least 30 subjects per year into the SCIMS 
database, following established protocols for the collection of 
enrollment and follow-up data on subjects;
    (c) Proposing and conducting at least one, but no more than two, 
site-specific research projects to test innovative approaches to 
treating SCI and to assessing outcomes in one or more domains 
identified in the Plan: health and function, participation and 
community living, technology, and employment;
    (d) Participating as research collaborators in at least one module 
project. Module projects are research collaborations with one or more 
other SCIMS Centers--on topics of mutual interest and expertise. These 
module projects are carried out as part of the SCIMS Centers' 
activities. They are not part of the SCIMS Multi-Site Collaborative 
Projects, which are funded under a separate priority.

    Note: The SCIMS Centers' Project Directors will work together to 
determine the substance and the methods that will be used to conduct 
these module projects. NIDRR staff will facilitate this post-award 
discussion and negotiation.

    Each applicant under this priority must--
    (1) Demonstrate, in its application, its capacity to successfully 
engage in multi-site collaborative research. This capacity includes 
access to research participants, the ability to maintain data quality, 
and the ability to adhere to research protocols; and
    (2) Propose to spend at least 15 percent of its annual budget on 
participating in a module project, as described in paragraph (d) of 
this priority;
    (e) Addressing the needs of persons with disabilities including 
individuals from traditionally underserved populations;
    (f) Coordinating with the NIDRR-funded Model Systems Knowledge 
Translation Center (MSKTC) to provide scientific results and 
information for dissemination to clinical and consumer audiences; and
    (g) Ensuring participation of persons with disabilities in 
conducting SCIMS research.

Proposed Priority 2--Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) Multi-
Site Collaborative Research Projects

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority for the funding of Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRPs) to serve as Spinal Cord Injury 
Model Systems (SCIMS) multi-site collaborative research projects. To be 
eligible under this priority, an applicant must have received a grant 
under the SCIMS Centers priority (Proposed Priority 1 in this notice). 
Following completion of a competition using the SCIMS Centers priority, 
the Department will invite successful applicants under that competition 
to apply for funding under this SCIMS Multi-Site Collaborative Research 
Projects priority.
    Each SCIMS multi-site collaborative research project must be 
designed to contribute to evidence-based rehabilitation interventions 
and clinical practice guidelines that improve the lives of individuals 
with spinal cord injury (SCI) through research, including the testing 
of approaches to treating SCI or the assessment of the outcomes of 
individuals with SCI. Each SCIMS multi-site collaborative research 
project must contribute to this outcome by--
    (a) Collaborating with three or more of the NIDRR-funded SCIMS 
centers (for a minimum of four SCIMS sites). Applicants may also 
propose to include as part of their multi-site collaborative research 
project other SCI research sites that are not participating in a NIDRR-
funded program;
    (b) Conducting multi-site research on questions of significance to 
SCI rehabilitation, using clearly identified research designs. The 
research must focus on outcomes in one or more domains identified in 
NIDRR's currently approved Long Range Plan, published in the Federal 
Register on February 15, 2006, 71 FR 8165: health and function, 
participation and community living, technology, and employment;
    (c) Demonstrating the capacity to carry out multi-site 
collaborative research projects, including administrative capabilities, 
experience with management of multi-site research protocols, and 
demonstrated ability to maintain standards for quality and 
confidentiality of data gathered from multiple sites;
    (d) Addressing the needs of people with disabilities, including 
individuals from traditionally underserved populations;
    (e) Coordinating with the NIDRR-funded Model Systems Knowledge 
Translation Center (MSKTC) to provide scientific results and 
information for dissemination to clinical and consumer audiences; and
    (f) Ensuring participation of individuals with disabilities in 
conducting SCIMS research.

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)).

[[Page 15964]]

    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)).

Proposed Selection Criterion

    Background: The Department is interested in ensuring that grantees 
use rigorous methods to carry out multi-site research conducted under 
Proposed Priority Two. The selection criteria that are available for 
use in DRRP competitions (34 CFR 350.53 and 350.54) are not 
sufficiently detailed to allow evaluation of large-scale multi-site 
collaborative research projects. Therefore, we propose an additional 
criterion to address methods for carrying out multi-site research 
collaboration and would use this selection criterion when evaluating 
applications under the SCIMS Multi-Site Collaborative Research Projects 
priority (Proposed Priority Two). This proposed criterion will be used 
to evaluate applicants' capacity to manage and carry out a number of 
complex tasks that are involved in the successful conduct of multi-site 
collaborative research.

Proposed Selection Criteria

    In accordance with the provisions of 34 CFR 350.53 and 350.54 and 
in addition to the selection criteria specified in those sections, the 
Secretary proposes to consider the following factor in evaluating 
applications submitted under the SCIMS Multi-Site Collaborative 
Research Projects priority:
    The extent to which the applicant clearly documents its capacity to 
carry out a multi-site research project, including demonstrated 
administrative capabilities, experience with managing and following 
multi-site research protocols, and ability to maintain and meet 
standards for quality and confidentiality of data gathered from 
multiple sites.
    Final Priorities and Selection Criteria: We will announce the final 
priorities and selection criteria in a notice in the Federal Register. 
We will determine the final priorities and selection criteria 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 any of these priorities, 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 priorities and selection criteria 
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. The priorities 
proposed in this notice will generate new knowledge through research 
and development. Another benefit of this proposed regulatory action is 
that the establishment of new DRRPs will improve the lives of 
individuals with disabilities. The new DRRPs will generate, 
disseminate, and promote the use of new information that will improve 
the options for individuals with disabilities to perform regular 
activities in the community.
    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: 
www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Numbers: 84.133N-1 and 
84.133A-15.

    Dated: March 17, 2011.
Alexa Posny,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 2011-6711 Filed 3-21-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P