Final Priority; Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Vocational Rehabilitation and Developing Strategies To Meet Employer Needs in Changing Economic Environments, 41391-41394 [2012-17186]

Download as PDF srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 135 / Friday, July 13, 2012 / Notices receive a multi-year award, you must submit an annual performance report that provides the most current performance and financial expenditure information as directed by the Secretary under 34 CFR 75.118. The Secretary may also require more frequent performance reports under 34 CFR 75.720(c). For specific requirements on reporting, please go to www.ed.gov/ fund/grant/apply/appforms/ appforms.html. 4. Performance Measures: To evaluate the overall success of its research program, NIDRR assesses the quality of its funded projects through a review of grantee performance and products. Each year, NIDRR examines a portion of its grantees to determine: • The percentage of NIDRR-supported fellows, post-doctoral trainees, and doctoral students who publish results of NIDRR-sponsored research in refereed journals. • The number of products (e.g., new or improved tools, methods, discoveries, standards, interventions, programs, or devices developed or tested with NIDRR funding) that have been judged by expert panels to be of high quality and to advance the field. • The average number of publications per award based on NIDRR-funded research and development activities in refereed journals. • The percentage of new NIDRR grants that assess the effectiveness of interventions, programs, and devices using rigorous methods. NIDRR uses information submitted by grantees as part of their Annual Performance Reports (APRs) for these reviews. Department of Education program performance reports, which include information on NIDRR programs, are available on the Department’s Web site: www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/opepd/ sas/index.html. 5. Continuation Awards: In making a continuation award, the Secretary may consider, under 34 CFR 75.253, the extent to which a grantee has made ‘‘substantial progress toward meeting the objectives in its approved application.’’ This consideration includes the review of a grantee’s progress in meeting the targets and projected outcomes in its approved application, and whether the grantee has expended funds in a manner that is consistent with its approved application and budget. In making a continuation grant, the Secretary also considers whether the grantee is operating in compliance with the assurances in its approved application, including those applicable to Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:08 Jul 12, 2012 Jkt 226001 or activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23). VII. Agency Contacts FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lynn Medley or Marlene Spencer as follows: Lynn Medley, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5140, PCP, Washington, DC 20202–2700. Telephone: (202) 245–7338 or by email: Lynn.Medley@ed.gov. Marlene Spencer, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5133, PCP, Washington, DC 20202–2700. Telephone: (202) 245–7532 or by email: Marlene.Spencer@ed.gov. If you use a TDD or TTY, call the FRS, toll free, at 1–800–877–8339. VIII. Other Information Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document and a copy of the application package in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) 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 or a TTY, call the FRS, toll-free, at 1–800–877–8339. Electronic Access to This Document: 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 via the Federal Digital System at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys. At this site 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). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site. You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department. Dated: July 10, 2012. Alexa Posny, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. [FR Doc. 2012–17190 Filed 7–12–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 41391 DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Final Priority; Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Vocational Rehabilitation and Developing Strategies To Meet Employer Needs in Changing Economic Environments Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: Overview Information: CFDA Number: 84.133B–1. Final priority; National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)— Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program— Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTCs) on Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Developing Strategies to Meet Employer Needs in Changing Economic Environments. SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services announces a priority for the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered by NIDRR. Specifically, this priority is for an RRTC on VR and developing strategies to meet employer needs in changing economic environments. The Assistant Secretary may use this priority for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2012 and later years. We take this action to focus research attention on areas of national need. We intend this priority to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. DATES: Effective Date: This priority is effective August 13, 2012. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marlene Spencer, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5133, Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202–2700. Telephone: (202) 245–7532 or by email: marlene.spencer@ed.gov. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1–800–877– 8339. This notice of final priority (NFP) 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: www.ed.gov/about/offices/ list/osers/nidrr/policy.html. By implementing the Plan, NIDRR seeks to: (1) Improve the quality and utility of disability and rehabilitation research; (2) foster an exchange of SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\13JYN1.SGM 13JYN1 41392 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 135 / Friday, July 13, 2012 / Notices 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 announces a final priority that NIDRR intends to use for an RRTC competition in FY 2012 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. 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). srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs) The purpose of the RRTCs, which are funded through the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers 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. Additional information on the RRTC program can be found at: www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/resprogram.html#RRTC. Statutory and Regulatory Requirements of RRTCs RRTCs must— VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:08 Jul 12, 2012 Jkt 226001 • Carry out coordinated and 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. We published a notice of proposed priority for this program in the Federal Register on May 8, 2012 (77 FR 27035). That notice contained background information and our reasons for proposing this particular priority. Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the notice of proposed priority, one party submitted comments on the proposed priority. Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes. In addition, we do not address general comments that raised concerns not directly related to the proposed priority. Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments and of any changes in the priority since publication of the notice of proposed priority follows. Comment: The commenter asked whether under the priority, the RRTC could conduct research on employer demand strategies in countries outside of the United States. Discussion: RRTCs are funded under the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers program. The regulations for this program (34 CFR 350.2) indicate that its purpose is to plan and conduct research, demonstration projects, training, and related activities, including international activities. This RRTC must conduct research that contributes to identifying effective VR practices that take into account economic conditions, PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 labor market trends, and employer needs. Nothing in the priority precludes the RRTC from conducting research on employer demand strategies in countries outside of the United States, so long as the results of the research are generalizable to the workforce needs and expectations of potential employers of individuals receiving services from State VR agencies and can be used to contribute to the intended outcomes of the priority. Changes: None. Comment: The commenter asked whether under the priority, the RRTC could conduct research activities with an employer or industry. Discussion: This RRTC must conduct research that contributes to identifying effective VR practices that take into account economic conditions, labor market trends, and employer needs. Nothing in the priority precludes the RRTC from conducting research with an employer or industry, so long as the results of the research can be used to contribute to the intended outcomes of the priority. Changes: None. Comment: The commenter asked how NIDRR distinguishes between research and development activities. The commenter also asked how NIDRR defines a development activity. Discussion: Descriptions of research and development activities are provided in the regulations for NIDRR’s Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects program. These regulations apply to a broad range of NIDRR’s grant mechanisms, including RRTCs, and describe a research activity as an ‘‘intensive systematic study directed toward new or full scientific knowledge, or understanding of the subject or problem studied.’’ 34 CFR 350.13. The regulations describe a development activity as using ‘‘knowledge and understanding gained from research to create materials, devices, systems, or methods beneficial to the target population, including the design and development of prototypes and processes.’’ 34 CFR 350.16. Changes: None. Comment: The commenter stated that the outcome on improved training and continuing education for VR professionals in paragraph (c) of the priority appears to limit the target audience to State VR agencies and asked NIDRR to consider expanding it to include rehabilitation service vendors, employers, and people with disabilities. The commenter also noted that such an expansion may better align with the research requirements listed under paragraph (b) of this priority. E:\FR\FM\13JYN1.SGM 13JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 135 / Friday, July 13, 2012 / Notices Discussion: The purpose of this priority, as conveyed in the opening paragraph, is to conduct research that will generate new knowledge about effective practices that can be used by State VR agencies to better serve their customers, including individuals with disabilities and their employers. Consistent with this purpose, paragraph (c) requires that the new knowledge be used to develop and disseminate materials that will improve training and continuing education on effective practices that can be used by VR State agencies in responding to workforce needs in a changing economy. Therefore, expanding paragraph (c) to engage in activities that improve the training and continuing education of professionals outside of the State VR system is beyond the scope of this priority. Changes: Our review of the priority in response to this comment indicated that paragraph (b) did not make clear that the focus of the intended outcome is improving services and strategies utilized by State VR agencies. Therefore, we have edited the opening sentence of paragraph (b) by adding the words ‘‘utilized by State VR agencies’’ to the end of the sentence. Comment: None. Discussion: The Department is committed to ensuring that all Department-sponsored Web sites and documents posted to them are accessible to individuals with disabilities. We inadvertently neglected to add such a requirement in the NPP. Changes: NIDRR has amended paragraph (c) to require the RRTC’s Web site, as well as documents posted on its Web site, to meet government or industry-recognized standards for accessibility. Final Priority srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Priority—Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Vocational Rehabilitation and Developing Strategies To Meet Employer Needs in Changing Economic Environments The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services announces a priority for a Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Developing Strategies to Meet Employer Needs in Changing Economic Environments. This RRTC must conduct research that contributes to identifying effective VR practices that take into account economic conditions, labor market trends, and employer needs. This RRTC will contribute to improved employment outcomes by generating new knowledge about effective practices VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:08 Jul 12, 2012 Jkt 226001 that can be used by State VR agencies in serving their customers, including both program participants and employers. Under this priority, the RRTC must contribute to the following outcomes: (a) New knowledge to improve responsiveness of VR agencies to employer workforce needs in a changing economy. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by conducting research or development activities on effective ways for State VR agencies to assess employer needs and expectations in the changing economic environment in which businesses operate. The RRTC must conduct research to identify or develop effective strategic planning models that will support State VR agency efforts to anticipate and prepare for changing employer and labor market needs. In addition, the RRTC must conduct research to identify existing programs, e.g., Workforce Investment Act ‘‘Rapid Response’’ programs, that may be useful in helping VR agencies mitigate the impact of changing economic conditions. These research or development activities must include identifying methods of tracking, analyzing, and reacting to changing employer needs, including those related to economic conditions, such as analyses of labor market trends and analyses of projected growth areas. (b) Improved job training, development, and placement services and strategies utilized by State VR agencies. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by conducting research to identify or develop effective service delivery models that take into account current and future employer workforce needs, including needed job skills. Components of these models may include, but are not limited to: Employer partnerships to facilitate the identification of employer needs; incorporation of employer needs in planning job development, placement, and retention strategies; training opportunities to provide individuals with disabilities with skills that match employer needs; and strategic planning processes designed to respond to changing employer and economic needs. (c) Improved training and continuing education for VR professionals. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by developing and disseminating materials that incorporate findings from the research and development activities conducted under paragraphs (a) and (b) of this priority. These materials must be developed for use by State VR agencies to improve their ability to use information generated to develop strategies and services that will better PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 41393 meet the needs of employers in the context of local and regional economic and labor market conditions and to increase employment outcomes for VR participants. If the RRTC maintains a Web site with the purpose of disseminating these materials, the Web site must meet government or industryrecognized standards for accessibility. Documents posted on the RRTC Web site must meet the accessibility standards set out at: http:// www2.ed.gov/internal/ internalguidelines.html. In addition, through coordination with the NIDRR Project Officer, this RRTC must— (1) Collaborate with RSA’s Regional Technical Assistance Network, including Regional Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) Centers to disseminate new knowledge to VR State agency personnel and key stakeholders; and (2) Collaborate with NIDRR grantees that are conducting work relevant to this RRTC. 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)). 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. E:\FR\FM\13JYN1.SGM 13JYN1 41394 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 135 / Friday, July 13, 2012 / Notices Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether this regulatory action is ‘‘significant’’ and, therefore, subject to the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 defines a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ as an action likely to result in a rule that may— (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local or Tribal governments or communities in a material way (also referred to as an ‘‘economically significant’’ rule); (2) Create serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) Materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlement grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President’s priorities, or the principles stated in the Executive order. This final regulatory action is not a significant regulatory action subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. We have also reviewed this regulatory action under Executive Order 13563, which supplements and explicitly reaffirms the principles, structures, and definitions governing regulatory review established in Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, Executive Order 13563 requires that an agency— (1) Propose or adopt regulations only on a reasoned determination that their benefits justify their costs (recognizing that some benefits and costs are difficult to quantify); (2) Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives and taking into account—among other things and to the extent practicable—the costs of cumulative regulations; (3) In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity); (4) To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather than the behavior or manner of compliance a regulated entity must adopt; and VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:08 Jul 12, 2012 Jkt 226001 (5) Identify and assess available alternatives to direct regulation, including economic incentives—such as user fees or marketable permits—to encourage the desired behavior, or provide information that enables the public to make choices. Executive Order 13563 also requires an agency ‘‘to use the best available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future benefits and costs as accurately as possible.’’ The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB has emphasized that these techniques may include ‘‘identifying changing future compliance costs that might result from technological innovation or anticipated behavioral changes.’’ We are issuing this final priority only on a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs. In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, we selected those approaches that maximize net benefits. Based on the analysis that follows, the Department believes that this regulatory action is consistent with the principles in Executive Order 13563. We also have determined that this regulatory action would not unduly interfere with State, local, and Tribal governments in the exercise of their governmental functions. In accordance with both Executive orders, the Department has assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and qualitative, of this regulatory action. The potential costs are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as necessary for administering the Department’s programs and activities. Summary of Potential 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 final priority will generate new knowledge through research and development. Another benefit of this final 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 contribute to improved employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or computer disc) by contacting the Grants and Contracts PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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 or TTY, call the FRS, toll free, at 1–800–877–8339. Electronic Access to This Document: 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 via the Federal Digital System at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys. At this site 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). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site. You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: http://www.federalregister. gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department. Dated: July 10, 2012. Alexa Posny, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. [FR Doc. 2012–17186 Filed 7–12–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket ID ED–2012–OESE–0009] Notice Reopening the Request for Information (RFI) To Gather Technical Expertise Pertaining to the Disaggregation of Asian and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Student Data Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Education. ACTION: Notice reopening comment period. AGENCY: On May 4, 2012, we published in the Federal Register (77 FR 26531) an RFI that established a July 3, 2012, deadline for the submission of written comments. We are reopening the public comment period to give interested parties additional time to submit written comments. DATES: Written submissions must be received by August 13, 2012. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or via U.S. mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. We will not accept comments by fax or by email. To ensure SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\13JYN1.SGM 13JYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 135 (Friday, July 13, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 41391-41394]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-17186]


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

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION


Final Priority; Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on 
Vocational Rehabilitation and Developing Strategies To Meet Employer 
Needs in Changing Economic Environments

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

ACTION: Notice.

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

    Overview Information: CFDA Number: 84.133B-1. Final priority; 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)--
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program--
Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTCs) on Vocational 
Rehabilitation (VR) and Developing Strategies to Meet Employer Needs in 
Changing Economic Environments.

SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services announces a priority for the Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered by 
NIDRR. Specifically, this priority is for an RRTC on VR and developing 
strategies to meet employer needs in changing economic environments. 
The Assistant Secretary may use this priority for competitions in 
fiscal year (FY) 2012 and later years. We take this action to focus 
research attention on areas of national need. We intend this priority 
to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

DATES: Effective Date: This priority is effective August 13, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marlene Spencer, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5133, Potomac Center Plaza 
(PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2700. Telephone: (202) 245-7532 or by 
email: marlene.spencer@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text 
telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-
800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice of final priority (NFP) 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: www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/nidrr/policy.html.
    By implementing the Plan, NIDRR seeks to: (1) Improve the quality 
and utility of disability and rehabilitation research; (2) foster an 
exchange of

[[Page 41392]]

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 announces a final priority that NIDRR intends to use 
for an RRTC competition in FY 2012 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.

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).

Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs)

    The purpose of the RRTCs, which are funded through the Disability 
and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers 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. 
Additional information on the RRTC program can be found at: www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/res-program.html#RRTC.

Statutory and Regulatory Requirements of RRTCs

    RRTCs must--
     Carry out coordinated and 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.
    We published a notice of proposed priority for this program in the 
Federal Register on May 8, 2012 (77 FR 27035). That notice contained 
background information and our reasons for proposing this particular 
priority.
    Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the notice of 
proposed priority, one party submitted comments on the proposed 
priority.
    Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes. In 
addition, we do not address general comments that raised concerns not 
directly related to the proposed priority.
    Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments and 
of any changes in the priority since publication of the notice of 
proposed priority follows.
    Comment: The commenter asked whether under the priority, the RRTC 
could conduct research on employer demand strategies in countries 
outside of the United States.
    Discussion: RRTCs are funded under the Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers program. The regulations 
for this program (34 CFR 350.2) indicate that its purpose is to plan 
and conduct research, demonstration projects, training, and related 
activities, including international activities. This RRTC must conduct 
research that contributes to identifying effective VR practices that 
take into account economic conditions, labor market trends, and 
employer needs. Nothing in the priority precludes the RRTC from 
conducting research on employer demand strategies in countries outside 
of the United States, so long as the results of the research are 
generalizable to the workforce needs and expectations of potential 
employers of individuals receiving services from State VR agencies and 
can be used to contribute to the intended outcomes of the priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: The commenter asked whether under the priority, the RRTC 
could conduct research activities with an employer or industry.
    Discussion: This RRTC must conduct research that contributes to 
identifying effective VR practices that take into account economic 
conditions, labor market trends, and employer needs. Nothing in the 
priority precludes the RRTC from conducting research with an employer 
or industry, so long as the results of the research can be used to 
contribute to the intended outcomes of the priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: The commenter asked how NIDRR distinguishes between 
research and development activities. The commenter also asked how NIDRR 
defines a development activity.
    Discussion: Descriptions of research and development activities are 
provided in the regulations for NIDRR's Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research Projects program. These regulations apply to a broad range of 
NIDRR's grant mechanisms, including RRTCs, and describe a research 
activity as an ``intensive systematic study directed toward new or full 
scientific knowledge, or understanding of the subject or problem 
studied.'' 34 CFR 350.13. The regulations describe a development 
activity as using ``knowledge and understanding gained from research to 
create materials, devices, systems, or methods beneficial to the target 
population, including the design and development of prototypes and 
processes.'' 34 CFR 350.16.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: The commenter stated that the outcome on improved training 
and continuing education for VR professionals in paragraph (c) of the 
priority appears to limit the target audience to State VR agencies and 
asked NIDRR to consider expanding it to include rehabilitation service 
vendors, employers, and people with disabilities. The commenter also 
noted that such an expansion may better align with the research 
requirements listed under paragraph (b) of this priority.

[[Page 41393]]

    Discussion: The purpose of this priority, as conveyed in the 
opening paragraph, is to conduct research that will generate new 
knowledge about effective practices that can be used by State VR 
agencies to better serve their customers, including individuals with 
disabilities and their employers. Consistent with this purpose, 
paragraph (c) requires that the new knowledge be used to develop and 
disseminate materials that will improve training and continuing 
education on effective practices that can be used by VR State agencies 
in responding to workforce needs in a changing economy. Therefore, 
expanding paragraph (c) to engage in activities that improve the 
training and continuing education of professionals outside of the State 
VR system is beyond the scope of this priority.
    Changes: Our review of the priority in response to this comment 
indicated that paragraph (b) did not make clear that the focus of the 
intended outcome is improving services and strategies utilized by State 
VR agencies. Therefore, we have edited the opening sentence of 
paragraph (b) by adding the words ``utilized by State VR agencies'' to 
the end of the sentence.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: The Department is committed to ensuring that all 
Department-sponsored Web sites and documents posted to them are 
accessible to individuals with disabilities. We inadvertently neglected 
to add such a requirement in the NPP.
    Changes: NIDRR has amended paragraph (c) to require the RRTC's Web 
site, as well as documents posted on its Web site, to meet government 
or industry-recognized standards for accessibility.

Final Priority

Priority--Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on 
Vocational Rehabilitation and Developing Strategies To Meet Employer 
Needs in Changing Economic Environments

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services announces a priority for a Rehabilitation Research and 
Training Center (RRTC) on Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Developing 
Strategies to Meet Employer Needs in Changing Economic Environments. 
This RRTC must conduct research that contributes to identifying 
effective VR practices that take into account economic conditions, 
labor market trends, and employer needs. 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, including both program participants and employers. 
Under this priority, the RRTC must contribute to the following 
outcomes:
    (a) New knowledge to improve responsiveness of VR agencies to 
employer workforce needs in a changing economy. The RRTC must 
contribute to this outcome by conducting research or development 
activities on effective ways for State VR agencies to assess employer 
needs and expectations in the changing economic environment in which 
businesses operate. The RRTC must conduct research to identify or 
develop effective strategic planning models that will support State VR 
agency efforts to anticipate and prepare for changing employer and 
labor market needs. In addition, the RRTC must conduct research to 
identify existing programs, e.g., Workforce Investment Act ``Rapid 
Response'' programs, that may be useful in helping VR agencies mitigate 
the impact of changing economic conditions. These research or 
development activities must include identifying methods of tracking, 
analyzing, and reacting to changing employer needs, including those 
related to economic conditions, such as analyses of labor market trends 
and analyses of projected growth areas.
    (b) Improved job training, development, and placement services and 
strategies utilized by State VR agencies. The RRTC must contribute to 
this outcome by conducting research to identify or develop effective 
service delivery models that take into account current and future 
employer workforce needs, including needed job skills. Components of 
these models may include, but are not limited to: Employer partnerships 
to facilitate the identification of employer needs; incorporation of 
employer needs in planning job development, placement, and retention 
strategies; training opportunities to provide individuals with 
disabilities with skills that match employer needs; and strategic 
planning processes designed to respond to changing employer and 
economic needs.
    (c) Improved training and continuing education for VR 
professionals. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by developing 
and disseminating materials that incorporate findings from the research 
and development activities conducted under paragraphs (a) and (b) of 
this priority. These materials must be developed for use by State VR 
agencies to improve their ability to use information generated to 
develop strategies and services that will better meet the needs of 
employers in the context of local and regional economic and labor 
market conditions and to increase employment outcomes for VR 
participants. If the RRTC maintains a Web site with the purpose of 
disseminating these materials, the Web site must meet government or 
industry-recognized standards for accessibility. Documents posted on 
the RRTC Web site must meet the accessibility standards set out at: 
http://www2.ed.gov/internal/internalguidelines.html.
    In addition, through coordination with the NIDRR Project Officer, 
this RRTC must--
    (1) Collaborate with RSA's Regional Technical Assistance Network, 
including Regional Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) 
Centers to disseminate new knowledge to VR State agency personnel and 
key stakeholders; and
    (2) Collaborate with NIDRR grantees that are conducting work 
relevant to this RRTC.

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)).
    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.


[[Page 41394]]



Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether 
this regulatory action is ``significant'' and, therefore, subject to 
the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 
12866 defines a ``significant regulatory action'' as an action likely 
to result in a rule that may--
    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, 
or adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, 
jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local or 
Tribal governments or communities in a material way (also referred to 
as an ``economically significant'' rule);
    (2) Create serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an 
action taken or planned by another agency;
    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlement grants, 
user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or
    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles stated in the 
Executive order.
    This final regulatory action is not a significant regulatory action 
subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866.
    We have also reviewed this regulatory action under Executive Order 
13563, which supplements and explicitly reaffirms the principles, 
structures, and definitions governing regulatory review established in 
Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, Executive Order 
13563 requires that an agency--
    (1) Propose or adopt regulations only on a reasoned determination 
that their benefits justify their costs (recognizing that some benefits 
and costs are difficult to quantify);
    (2) Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, 
consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives and taking into 
account--among other things and to the extent practicable--the costs of 
cumulative regulations;
    (3) In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select 
those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential 
economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other 
advantages; distributive impacts; and equity);
    (4) To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather 
than the behavior or manner of compliance a regulated entity must 
adopt; and
    (5) Identify and assess available alternatives to direct 
regulation, including economic incentives--such as user fees or 
marketable permits--to encourage the desired behavior, or provide 
information that enables the public to make choices.
    Executive Order 13563 also requires an agency ``to use the best 
available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future 
benefits and costs as accurately as possible.'' The Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB has emphasized that these 
techniques may include ``identifying changing future compliance costs 
that might result from technological innovation or anticipated 
behavioral changes.''
    We are issuing this final priority only on a reasoned determination 
that its benefits justify its costs. In choosing among alternative 
regulatory approaches, we selected those approaches that maximize net 
benefits. Based on the analysis that follows, the Department believes 
that this regulatory action is consistent with the principles in 
Executive Order 13563.
    We also have determined that this regulatory action would not 
unduly interfere with State, local, and Tribal governments in the 
exercise of their governmental functions.
    In accordance with both Executive orders, the Department has 
assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and 
qualitative, of this regulatory action. The potential costs are those 
resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as 
necessary for administering the Department's programs and activities.

Summary of Potential 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 final priority 
will generate new knowledge through research and development.
    Another benefit of this final 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 contribute to improved employment outcomes for 
individuals with disabilities.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer disc) 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 or TTY, call the FRS, toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.
    Electronic Access to This Document: 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 via the Federal Digital System 
at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys. At this site 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). To 
use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at 
the site.
    You may also access documents of the Department published in the 
Federal Register by using the article search feature at: http://www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search 
feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published 
by the Department.

    Dated: July 10, 2012.
Alexa Posny,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 2012-17186 Filed 7-12-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P