Assistive Technology Act of 1998, As Amended-Assistive Technology Alternative Financing Program, 27106-27109 [E7-9222]

Download as PDF 27106 Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 92 / Monday, May 14, 2007 / Notices V. Application Review Information 1. Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for this competition are from 34 CFR 75.210 and are listed in the application package. 2. Review and Selection Process: Treating a Priority as Two Separate Competitions: In the past, there have been problems in finding peer reviewers without conflicts of interest for competitions in which many entities throughout the country submit applications. The Standing Panel requirements under IDEA also have placed additional constraints on the availability of reviewers. Therefore, the Department has determined that, for some discretionary competitions, applications may be separated into two or more groups and ranked and selected for funding within the specific group. This procedure will ensure the availability of a much larger group of reviewers without conflicts of interest. It also will increase the quality, independence and fairness of the review process and permit panel members to review applications under discretionary competitions for which they have also submitted applications. However, if the Department decides to select for funding an equal number of applications in each group, this may result in different cutoff points for fundable applications in each group. pwalker on PROD1PC71 with NOTICES VI. Award Administration Information 1. Award Notices: If your application is successful, we notify your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and send you a Grant Award Notification (GAN). We may also notify you informally. If your application is not evaluated or not selected for funding, we notify you. 2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements: We identify administrative and national policy requirements in the application package and reference these and other requirements in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice. We reference the regulations outlining the terms and conditions of an award in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice and include these and other specific conditions in the GAN. The GAN also incorporates your approved application as part of your binding commitments under the grant. 3. Reporting: At the end of your project period, you must submit a final performance report, including financial information, as directed by the Secretary. If you receive a multi-year award, you must submit an annual performance report that provides the most current performance and financial VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:21 May 11, 2007 Jkt 211001 expenditure information as specified by the Secretary in 34 CFR 75.118. 4. Performance Measures: Under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), the Department has developed annual performance measures that will yield information on various aspects of the technical assistance and dissemination activities currently being supported under Part D of IDEA. These measures will be used for the National Center to Inform Policy and Practice in Special Education Professional Development competition. They are: The percentage of products and services deemed to be of high quality by an independent review panel of qualified experts or individuals with appropriate expertise to review the substantive content of the products and services; the percentage of products and services deemed to be of high relevance to educational and early intervention policy or practice by an independent review panel of qualified members of the target audiences of the technical assistance and disseminations; and the percentage of all products and services deemed to be of high usefulness by target audiences to improve educational or early intervention policy or practice. We will notify grantees if they will be required to provide any information related to these measures. Grantees will also be required to report information on their projects’ performance in annual reports to the Department (34 CFR 75.590). VII. Agency Contact For Further Information Contact: Dr. Bonnie D. Jones, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 4153, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202–2600. Telephone: (202) 245–7395. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1–800–877–8339. Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) on request by contacting the following office: The Grants and Contracts Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202–2550. Telephone: (202) 245– 7363. VIII. Other Information Electronic Access to This Document: You may 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 PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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. Dated: May 7, 2007. John H. Hager, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. [FR Doc. 07–2342 Filed 5–11–07; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4001–07–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Assistive Technology Act of 1998, As Amended—Assistive Technology Alternative Financing Program Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education. ACTION: Notice of proposed priority. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) proposes a priority under section 4(b)(2)(D) of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended, administered by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). The Assistant Secretary may use the priority for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2007 and later years. We take this action to focus Federal financial assistance on an identified area of national need. We intend the priority to support activities that increase the availability of, funding for, access to, and provision of assistive technology (AT) devices and AT services. We must receive your comments on or before June 13, 2007. ADDRESSES: Address all comments about the proposed priority to Robert Groenendaal, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 5019, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202–2550. Telephone: (202) 245–7393 or by e-mail: robert.groenendaal@ed.gov. You must include the term ‘‘AFP Priority’’ in the subject line of your electronic message. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Groenendaal. Telephone: (202) DATES: E:\FR\FM\14MYN1.SGM 14MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 92 / Monday, May 14, 2007 / Notices 245–7393, or via Internet: robert.groenendaal@ed.gov. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1– 800–877–8339. Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Invitation to Comment We invite you to submit comments regarding the proposed priority. 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 the proposed priority. Please let us know of any further opportunities we should take to 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 the proposed priority in room 5019, Potomac Center Plaza, 550 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal holidays. pwalker on PROD1PC71 with NOTICES Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking Record On request, we will supply an appropriate aid, such as a reader or print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public rulemaking record for the proposed priority. If you want to schedule an appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Background Most individuals with disabilities do not have the private financial resources to purchase the AT they need. Currently, programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and vocational rehabilitation cannot meet the growing demand for AT. Through services such as financial loans, alternative financing programs (AFPs) offer individuals with disabilities affordable options that can significantly enhance their access to AT in a way that underscores independence and inclusion. The FY 2007 full-year Continuing Resolution provides funding for the VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:21 May 11, 2007 Jkt 211001 Department to support the establishment, expansion, and administration of AFPs under section 4(b)(2)(D) of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended (AT Act). States and outlying areas operate AFPs in accordance with the requirements of title III of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of the 2004 amendments (referred to throughout this document as the ‘‘old AT Act’’). The purpose of title III of the old AT Act is to maximize independence and participation in society by individuals with disabilities through AFPs. These programs offer alternatives to the traditional payment options of public assistance and out-of-pocket financing so that individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives can purchase AT devices and services. Grantees operating AFPs must match their Federal grant amount; as provided for by the FY 2007 Continuing Resolution, which incorporates the requirements in the FY 2006 appropriations act relating to this program, the Federal share may not be more than 75 percent of the cost of AFPs featuring one or more alternative financing mechanisms for the purchase of AT devices and AT services. In order to maintain consistency among AFPs funded under this program, we are proposing substantially the same priority that was published for this program in the Federal Register on June 30, 2005 (70 FR 37794). 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 or using other priorities, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements. Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in which we choose to use the priority, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal Register. When inviting applications we designate the priority as absolute, competitive preference, or invitational. 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 either (1) awarding additional points, depending on how well or the extent to which the application meets the competitive priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the competitive priority over an application of comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(ii)). PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 27107 Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority we are particularly interested in applications that meet the invitational priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)). Priority The Assistant Secretary proposes this priority to support AFPs that provide individuals with disabilities the funding for and provision of AT devices and services. In order to meet this priority, the State must establish or expand one or more of the following types of AFPs (section 301(b) of the old AT Act): (1) A low-interest loan fund. (2) An interest buy-down program. (3) A revolving loan fund. (4) A loan guarantee or insurance program. (5) A program operated by a partnership among private entities for the purchase, lease, or other acquisition of AT devices or services. (6) Another mechanism that meets the requirements of title III of the old AT Act and is approved by the Secretary. AFPs are designed to allow individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives to purchase AT devices or services. If family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives (including employers who have been designated by an individual with a disability as an authorized representative) receive AFP support to purchase AT devices or services, the purchase must be on behalf of an individual with a disability, i.e., the AT device or service that is purchased must be solely for the benefit of that individual. To be considered for funding, an applicant must identify the type or types of AFP to be supported by the grant and submit all of the following assurances in their entirety: (1) Nature of the Match: An assurance that the State will provide the nonFederal share (not less than 25 percent) of the cost of the AFP in cash, from State, local, or private sources (sections 301(d) and 303(b)(1) of the old AT Act, as provided for by the 2007 Continuing Resolution, which incorporates requirements in the FY 2006 appropriations act relating to this program). An applicant must identify the amount of Federal funds the State is requesting, the amount of cash that the State will provide as a match, and the source of the cash. (2) Permanent Separate Account: An assurance from the State that— E:\FR\FM\14MYN1.SGM 14MYN1 pwalker on PROD1PC71 with NOTICES 27108 Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 92 / Monday, May 14, 2007 / Notices (a) All funds that support the AFP, including funds repaid during the life of the program, will be placed in a permanent separate account and identified and accounted for separately from any other fund; (b) If the organization administering the program invests funds within this account, the organization will invest the funds in low-risk securities in which a regulated insurance company may invest under the law of the State; and (c) The organization will administer the funds with the same judgment and care that a person of prudence, discretion, and intelligence would exercise in the management of the financial affairs of that person (section 303(b)(5) of the old AT Act). During the first 12-month budget period, a grantee must deposit its matching funds and its Federal award funds in the permanent and separate account. (3) Permanence of the Program: An assurance that the AFP will continue on a permanent basis (section 303(b)(2) of the old AT Act). A State’s obligation to implement the AFP consistent with all of the requirements, including reporting requirements, continues until there are no longer any funds available to operate the AFP and all outstanding loans have been repaid. If a State decides to terminate its AFP while there are still funds available to operate the program, the State must return the Federal share of the funds remaining in the permanent separate account to RSA (e.g., 75 percent if the original State to Federal match was 1 to 3) except for funds being used for grant purposes, such as loan guarantees for outstanding loans. However, before closing out its grant, the State also must return the Federal share of any principal and interest remitted to it on outstanding loans and any other funds remaining in the permanent separate account, such as funds being used as loan guarantees for those loans. (4) Consumer Choice and Control: An assurance that, and information describing the manner in which, the AFP will expand and emphasize consumer choice and control (section 303(b)(3) of the old AT Act). (5) Supplement Not Supplant: An assurance that the funds made available through the grant to support the AFP will be used to supplement and not supplant other Federal, State, and local public funds expended to provide alternative financing mechanisms (section 303(b)(4) of the old AT Act). (6) Contract With a Community-Based Organization: An assurance that the State will enter into a contract with a VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:21 May 11, 2007 Jkt 211001 community-based organization (CBO) (including a group of CBOs) that has individuals with disabilities involved in organizational decision-making at all organizational levels, to administer the AFP. The contract must— (a) Include a provision requiring that the program funds, including the Federal and non-Federal shares of the cost of the program, be administered in a manner consistent with the provisions of title III of the old AT Act; (b) Include any provision the Secretary requires concerning oversight and evaluation necessary to protect Federal financial interests; and (c) Require the CBO to enter into a contract, to expand opportunities under title III of the old AT Act and facilitate administration of the AFP, with commercial lending institutions or organizations or State financing agencies (section 304 of the old AT Act). During the first 12-month budget period, a grantee will enter into the contract with a CBO and ensure that the CBO has entered into the contract with the commercial lending institutions or organizations or State financing agencies. (7) Use and Control of Funds: An assurance that— (a) Funds comprised of the principal and interest from the account described in paragraph (2) Permanent Separate Account of this priority will be available to support the AFP; and (b) Any interest or investment income that accrues on or derives from those funds after the funds have been placed under the control of the organization administering the AFP, but before the funds are distributed for purposes of supporting the program, will be the property of the organization administering the program (section 303(b)(6) of the old AT Act). This assurance regarding the use and control of funds applies to all funds derived from the AFP including the original Federal award, the State matching funds, AFP funds generated by either interest bearing accounts or investments, and all principal and interest paid by borrowers of the AFP who are extended loans from the permanent separate account. (8) Indirect Costs: An assurance that the percentage of the funds made available through the grant that is used for indirect costs will not exceed 10 percent (section 303(b)(7) of the old AT Act). For each 12-month budget period, grantees must recalculate their allowable indirect cost rate, which may not exceed 10 percent of the amount of funds in the permanent and separate PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 account and any outstanding loans from that account. (9) Administrative Policies and Procedures: An assurance that the State and any CBO that enters into a contract with the State under title III of the old AT Act will submit to the Secretary the following policies and procedures for administration of the AFP: (a) A procedure to review and process in a timely manner requests for financial assistance for immediate and potential technology needs, including consideration of methods to reduce paperwork and duplication of effort, particularly relating to need, eligibility, and determination of the specific AT device or service to be financed through the program. (b) A policy and procedure to ensure that access to the AFP must be given to consumers regardless of type of disability, age, income level, location of residence in the State, or type of AT device or service for which financing is requested through the program. (c) A procedure to ensure consumercontrolled oversight of the program (section 305 of the old AT Act). Grantees must submit the administrative policies and procedures required in this assurance within 12 months of the start of the grant. (10) Data Collection: An assurance that the State will collect and report data requested by the Secretary in the format, with the frequency, and using the method established by the Secretary until there are no longer any funds available to operate the AFP and all outstanding loans have been repaid. (11) Collaboration With the Statewide AT Program: An assurance that the AFP will enter into a written agreement with that State’s statewide AT program supported under section 4 of the AT Act to coordinate activities appropriately. Executive Order 12866 This notice of proposed priority 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 regulatory action. The potential costs associated with the notice of proposed priority 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 notice of proposed priority we have determined that the benefits of the proposed priority justify the costs. We have also determined that this regulatory action does not unduly E:\FR\FM\14MYN1.SGM 14MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 92 / Monday, May 14, 2007 / Notices interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of their governmental functions. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 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. Applicability of Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) to AFP In general, EDGAR would apply to this grant except to the extent it is inconsistent with the purpose of and intent of section 4(b)(2)(D) of the AT Act. Specifically, grantees would be exempt from section 80.21(i) regarding interest earned on advances and the addition method in section 80.25(g)(1). Also, sections 75.560–75.564 would not apply to the extent that these sections of EDGAR are inconsistent with the AFP requirement that indirect costs cannot exceed 10 percent. Electronic Access to This Document You may view this document, as well as all other Department of Education documents 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. (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.224C Assistive Technology Alternative Financing Programs) pwalker on PROD1PC71 with NOTICES Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 3001 et seq. Dated: May 9, 2007. Andrew J. Pepin, Executive Administrator, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. [FR Doc. E7–9222 Filed 5–11–07; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:21 May 11, 2007 Jkt 211001 Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance: Hearing Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, Education. ACTION: Notice of an opening hearing. AGENCY: SUMMARY: This notice sets forth the schedule and proposed agenda of a forthcoming hearing of the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance (The Advisory Committee). This notice also describes the functions of the Advisory Committee. Notice of this hearing is required under Section 10(a)(2) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. This document is intended to notify the general public. DATE AND TIME: Tuesday, June 5, 2007, beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at approximately 5 p.m. ADDRESSES: Holiday Inn on the Hill, Federal North Room, 415 New Jersey Avenue, NW., Washington DC 20001. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper, Deputy Director, Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, Capitol Place, 80 F Street, NW, Suite 413, Washington DC 20202–7582, (202) 219–2099. Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FRS) at 1–800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance is established under Section 491 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 as amended by Public Law 100–50 (20 U.S.C. 1098). The Advisory Committee serves as an independent source of advice and counsel to the Congress and the Secretary of Education on student financial aid policy. Since its inception, the congressional mandate requires the Advisory Committee to conduct objective, nonpartisan, and independent analyses on important aspects of the student assistance programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act, and to make recommendations that will result in the maintenance of access to postsecondary education for low- and middle-income students. In addition, Congress expanded the Advisory Committee’s mission in the Higher Education Amendments of 1998 to include several important areas: access, Title IV modernization, distance education, and early information and needs assessment. Specifically, the Advisory Committee is to review, monitor and evaluate the Department of Education’s progress in these areas and PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 27109 report recommended improvements to Congress and the Secretary. The Advisory Committee has scheduled this one-day hearing to discuss release of its new report related to its congressionally requested study to make textbooks more affordable (Textbook Study). This one-year study, was requested by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor (formerly Education and the Workforce) to investigate further the problem of rising textbook prices and determine the impact of rising textbook prices on students’ ability to afford a postsecondary education. In addition, other discussions will focus on two components of the Advisory Committee’s three-year Innovative Pathways Study: Expected Family Contribution and early financial aid information. The proposed agenda includes expert testimony and discussions by prominent higher education community leaders, Congressional staff, state representatives, and institutions on (a) the Advisory Committee’s Textbook Study recommendations; (b) legislative efforts to simplify the student aid application and delivery process; and (c) the National Advising Corps. The Advisory Committee will also conduct a public comment and discussion session. Individuals who will need accommodations for a disability in order to attend the hearing (i.e., interpreting services, assistive listening devices, and/or materials in alternative format) should notify the Advisory Committee no later than Tuesday, May 29, 2007 by contacting Ms. Hope Gray at (202) 219– 2099 or via e-mail at hope.gray@ed.gov. We will attempt to meet requests after this date, but cannot guarantee availability of the requested accommodation. The hearing site is accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Advisory Committee invites the public to submit written comments on the agenda topics to the following e-mail address: ACSFA@ed.gov. Information regarding the topics covered at the hearing will also be available on the Advisory Committee’s Web site, http://www.ed.gov/ACSFA. We must receive your comments on or before Tuesday, May 29, 2007 to be included in the hearing materials. Space for the hearing is limited and you are encouraged to register early if you plan to attend. You may register by sending an email to the following address: ACSFA@ed.gov or Tracy.Deanna.Jones@ed.gov. Please include your name, title, affiliation, complete address (including internet E:\FR\FM\14MYN1.SGM 14MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 92 (Monday, May 14, 2007)]
[Notices]
[Pages 27106-27109]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-9222]


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

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION


Assistive Technology Act of 1998, As Amended--Assistive 
Technology Alternative Financing Program

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 (OSERS) proposes a priority under section 
4(b)(2)(D) of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended, 
administered by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). The 
Assistant Secretary may use the priority for competitions in fiscal 
year (FY) 2007 and later years. We take this action to focus Federal 
financial assistance on an identified area of national need. We intend 
the priority to support activities that increase the availability of, 
funding for, access to, and provision of assistive technology (AT) 
devices and AT services.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before June 13, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about the proposed priority to Robert 
Groenendaal, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., 
room 5019, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: 
(202) 245-7393 or by e-mail: robert.groenendaal@ed.gov.
    You must include the term ``AFP Priority'' in the subject line of 
your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Groenendaal. Telephone: (202)

[[Page 27107]]

245-7393, or via Internet: robert.groenendaal@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Invitation to Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding the proposed priority.
    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 the proposed 
priority. Please let us know of any further opportunities we should 
take to 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 the proposed priority in room 5019, Potomac Center 
Plaza, 550 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 
a.m. and 4 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday of each week 
except Federal holidays.

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking 
Record

    On request, we will supply an appropriate aid, such as a reader or 
print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs 
assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public 
rulemaking record for the proposed priority. If you want to schedule an 
appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person listed 
under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Background

    Most individuals with disabilities do not have the private 
financial resources to purchase the AT they need. Currently, programs 
such as Medicaid, Medicare, and vocational rehabilitation cannot meet 
the growing demand for AT. Through services such as financial loans, 
alternative financing programs (AFPs) offer individuals with 
disabilities affordable options that can significantly enhance their 
access to AT in a way that underscores independence and inclusion.
    The FY 2007 full-year Continuing Resolution provides funding for 
the Department to support the establishment, expansion, and 
administration of AFPs under section 4(b)(2)(D) of the Assistive 
Technology Act of 1998, as amended (AT Act). States and outlying areas 
operate AFPs in accordance with the requirements of title III of the 
Assistive Technology Act of 1998 as in effect on the day before the 
date of enactment of the 2004 amendments (referred to throughout this 
document as the ``old AT Act''). The purpose of title III of the old AT 
Act is to maximize independence and participation in society by 
individuals with disabilities through AFPs. These programs offer 
alternatives to the traditional payment options of public assistance 
and out-of-pocket financing so that individuals with disabilities and 
their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized 
representatives can purchase AT devices and services. Grantees 
operating AFPs must match their Federal grant amount; as provided for 
by the FY 2007 Continuing Resolution, which incorporates the 
requirements in the FY 2006 appropriations act relating to this 
program, the Federal share may not be more than 75 percent of the cost 
of AFPs featuring one or more alternative financing mechanisms for the 
purchase of AT devices and AT services.
    In order to maintain consistency among AFPs funded under this 
program, we are proposing substantially the same priority that was 
published for this program in the Federal Register on June 30, 2005 (70 
FR 37794).
    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 or using 
other priorities, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking 
requirements.

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use the priority, we invite applications through 
a notice in the Federal Register. When inviting applications we 
designate the priority as absolute, competitive preference, or 
invitational. 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 either 
(1) awarding additional points, depending on how well or the extent 
to which the application meets the competitive priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the 
competitive 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 invitational 
priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the 
invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over 
other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

Priority

    The Assistant Secretary proposes this priority to support AFPs that 
provide individuals with disabilities the funding for and provision of 
AT devices and services.
    In order to meet this priority, the State must establish or expand 
one or more of the following types of AFPs (section 301(b) of the old 
AT Act):
    (1) A low-interest loan fund.
    (2) An interest buy-down program.
    (3) A revolving loan fund.
    (4) A loan guarantee or insurance program.
    (5) A program operated by a partnership among private entities for 
the purchase, lease, or other acquisition of AT devices or services.
    (6) Another mechanism that meets the requirements of title III of 
the old AT Act and is approved by the Secretary.
    AFPs are designed to allow individuals with disabilities and their 
family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives to 
purchase AT devices or services. If family members, guardians, 
advocates, and authorized representatives (including employers who have 
been designated by an individual with a disability as an authorized 
representative) receive AFP support to purchase AT devices or services, 
the purchase must be on behalf of an individual with a disability, 
i.e., the AT device or service that is purchased must be solely for the 
benefit of that individual.
    To be considered for funding, an applicant must identify the type 
or types of AFP to be supported by the grant and submit all of the 
following assurances in their entirety:
    (1) Nature of the Match: An assurance that the State will provide 
the non-Federal share (not less than 25 percent) of the cost of the AFP 
in cash, from State, local, or private sources (sections 301(d) and 
303(b)(1) of the old AT Act, as provided for by the 2007 Continuing 
Resolution, which incorporates requirements in the FY 2006 
appropriations act relating to this program). An applicant must 
identify the amount of Federal funds the State is requesting, the 
amount of cash that the State will provide as a match, and the source 
of the cash.
    (2) Permanent Separate Account: An assurance from the State that--

[[Page 27108]]

    (a) All funds that support the AFP, including funds repaid during 
the life of the program, will be placed in a permanent separate account 
and identified and accounted for separately from any other fund;
    (b) If the organization administering the program invests funds 
within this account, the organization will invest the funds in low-risk 
securities in which a regulated insurance company may invest under the 
law of the State; and
    (c) The organization will administer the funds with the same 
judgment and care that a person of prudence, discretion, and 
intelligence would exercise in the management of the financial affairs 
of that person (section 303(b)(5) of the old AT Act).
    During the first 12-month budget period, a grantee must deposit its 
matching funds and its Federal award funds in the permanent and 
separate account.
    (3) Permanence of the Program: An assurance that the AFP will 
continue on a permanent basis (section 303(b)(2) of the old AT Act).
    A State's obligation to implement the AFP consistent with all of 
the requirements, including reporting requirements, continues until 
there are no longer any funds available to operate the AFP and all 
outstanding loans have been repaid. If a State decides to terminate its 
AFP while there are still funds available to operate the program, the 
State must return the Federal share of the funds remaining in the 
permanent separate account to RSA (e.g., 75 percent if the original 
State to Federal match was 1 to 3) except for funds being used for 
grant purposes, such as loan guarantees for outstanding loans. However, 
before closing out its grant, the State also must return the Federal 
share of any principal and interest remitted to it on outstanding loans 
and any other funds remaining in the permanent separate account, such 
as funds being used as loan guarantees for those loans.
    (4) Consumer Choice and Control: An assurance that, and information 
describing the manner in which, the AFP will expand and emphasize 
consumer choice and control (section 303(b)(3) of the old AT Act).
    (5) Supplement Not Supplant: An assurance that the funds made 
available through the grant to support the AFP will be used to 
supplement and not supplant other Federal, State, and local public 
funds expended to provide alternative financing mechanisms (section 
303(b)(4) of the old AT Act).
    (6) Contract With a Community-Based Organization: An assurance that 
the State will enter into a contract with a community-based 
organization (CBO) (including a group of CBOs) that has individuals 
with disabilities involved in organizational decision-making at all 
organizational levels, to administer the AFP. The contract must--
    (a) Include a provision requiring that the program funds, including 
the Federal and non-Federal shares of the cost of the program, be 
administered in a manner consistent with the provisions of title III of 
the old AT Act;
    (b) Include any provision the Secretary requires concerning 
oversight and evaluation necessary to protect Federal financial 
interests; and
    (c) Require the CBO to enter into a contract, to expand 
opportunities under title III of the old AT Act and facilitate 
administration of the AFP, with commercial lending institutions or 
organizations or State financing agencies (section 304 of the old AT 
Act).
    During the first 12-month budget period, a grantee will enter into 
the contract with a CBO and ensure that the CBO has entered into the 
contract with the commercial lending institutions or organizations or 
State financing agencies.
    (7) Use and Control of Funds: An assurance that--
    (a) Funds comprised of the principal and interest from the account 
described in paragraph (2) Permanent Separate Account of this priority 
will be available to support the AFP; and
    (b) Any interest or investment income that accrues on or derives 
from those funds after the funds have been placed under the control of 
the organization administering the AFP, but before the funds are 
distributed for purposes of supporting the program, will be the 
property of the organization administering the program (section 
303(b)(6) of the old AT Act).
    This assurance regarding the use and control of funds applies to 
all funds derived from the AFP including the original Federal award, 
the State matching funds, AFP funds generated by either interest 
bearing accounts or investments, and all principal and interest paid by 
borrowers of the AFP who are extended loans from the permanent separate 
account.
    (8) Indirect Costs: An assurance that the percentage of the funds 
made available through the grant that is used for indirect costs will 
not exceed 10 percent (section 303(b)(7) of the old AT Act).
    For each 12-month budget period, grantees must recalculate their 
allowable indirect cost rate, which may not exceed 10 percent of the 
amount of funds in the permanent and separate account and any 
outstanding loans from that account.
    (9) Administrative Policies and Procedures: An assurance that the 
State and any CBO that enters into a contract with the State under 
title III of the old AT Act will submit to the Secretary the following 
policies and procedures for administration of the AFP:
    (a) A procedure to review and process in a timely manner requests 
for financial assistance for immediate and potential technology needs, 
including consideration of methods to reduce paperwork and duplication 
of effort, particularly relating to need, eligibility, and 
determination of the specific AT device or service to be financed 
through the program.
    (b) A policy and procedure to ensure that access to the AFP must be 
given to consumers regardless of type of disability, age, income level, 
location of residence in the State, or type of AT device or service for 
which financing is requested through the program.
    (c) A procedure to ensure consumer-controlled oversight of the 
program (section 305 of the old AT Act).
    Grantees must submit the administrative policies and procedures 
required in this assurance within 12 months of the start of the grant.
    (10) Data Collection: An assurance that the State will collect and 
report data requested by the Secretary in the format, with the 
frequency, and using the method established by the Secretary until 
there are no longer any funds available to operate the AFP and all 
outstanding loans have been repaid.
    (11) Collaboration With the Statewide AT Program: An assurance that 
the AFP will enter into a written agreement with that State's statewide 
AT program supported under section 4 of the AT Act to coordinate 
activities appropriately.

Executive Order 12866

    This notice of proposed priority 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 regulatory action.
    The potential costs associated with the notice of proposed priority 
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 notice of proposed priority we have determined 
that the benefits of the proposed priority justify the costs.
    We have also determined that this regulatory action does not unduly

[[Page 27109]]

interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of 
their governmental functions.

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.

Applicability of Education Department General Administrative 
Regulations (EDGAR) to AFP

    In general, EDGAR would apply to this grant except to the extent it 
is inconsistent with the purpose of and intent of section 4(b)(2)(D) of 
the AT Act. Specifically, grantees would be exempt from section 
80.21(i) regarding interest earned on advances and the addition method 
in section 80.25(g)(1). Also, sections 75.560-75.564 would not apply to 
the extent that these sections of EDGAR are inconsistent with the AFP 
requirement that indirect costs cannot exceed 10 percent.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may view this document, as well as all other Department of 
Education documents 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.


(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.224C Assistive 
Technology Alternative Financing Programs)

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.

    Dated: May 9, 2007.
Andrew J. Pepin,
Executive Administrator, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services.
[FR Doc. E7-9222 Filed 5-11-07; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P