Final priority. Rehabilitation Training: Job-Driven Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center, 48983-48990 [2014-19588]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 160 / Tuesday, August 19, 2014 / Rules and Regulations Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) makes grants to States and public or nonprofit agencies and organizations (including institutions of higher education) to support projects that provide training, traineeships, and TA designed to increase the numbers and improve the skills of qualified personnel (especially rehabilitation counselors) who are trained to: Provide vocational, medical, social, and psychological rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities; assist individuals with communication and related disorders; and provide other services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act. enforcement, he or she may use a Broadcast Notice to Mariners to grant general permission to enter the regulated area. Dated: August 1, 2014. L.N. Weaver, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port, Pittsburgh. [FR Doc. 2014–19573 Filed 8–18–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110–04–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 34 CFR Chapter III [CFDA Number: 84.264A.] Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 772(a)(1). Final priority. Rehabilitation Training: Job-Driven Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education. ACTION: Final priority. AGENCY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services announces a priority under the Rehabilitation Training program to establish a Job-Driven Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center (JDVRTAC). The Assistant Secretary may use this priority for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2014 and later years. We take this action to focus on training in an area of national need. Specifically, this priority responds to the Presidential Memorandum to Federal agencies directing them to take action to address job-driven training for the Nation’s workers. The JDVRTAC will provide technical assistance (TA) to State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies to help them develop for individuals with disabilities training and employment opportunities that meet the needs of today’s employers. DATES: This priority is effective September 18, 2014. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jerry Elliott, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5042, Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202–2800. Telephone: (202) 245–7335 or by email: jerry.elliott@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. wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Purpose of Program: Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (the Rehabilitation Act), the VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:25 Aug 18, 2014 Jkt 232001 Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 385. We published a notice of proposed priority for this competition in the Federal Register on June 19, 2014 (79 FR 35121). That notice contained background information and our reasons for proposing the particular priority. There are differences between the proposed priority and the final priority, and we explain those differences in the Analysis of Comments and Changes section of this notice. Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the notice of proposed priority, 83 parties submitted comments on the proposed priority. Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes. Analysis of the 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 majority of commenters expressed concern that the proposed priority for the JDVRTAC would specifically replace the ten Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) Centers that provide TA and continuing education (CE) in designated geographical areas and that the JDVRTAC would not meet all of the needs of State VR agencies. Discussion: We recognize the commenters’ concerns. However, the JDVRTAC is not meant to replace or replicate the services provided by the TACE Centers and will not be the Department’s sole TA investment focused on supporting State VR agencies. It is a single, short-term vehicle for providing a range of TA activities specifically related to the issues outlined in the Presidential Memorandum issued on January 30, 2014 1 (Presidential Memorandum), 1 Obama, B.H. (2014). Presidential Memorandum on Job-Driven Training for Workers. January 30, 2014. Available at: www.whitehouse.gov/the-press- PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 48983 which directed the Secretaries of the Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Education to take action to address jobdriven training for the Nation’s workers. The JDVRTAC is intended to be a topical center focused on assisting State VR agencies to incorporate job-driven techniques into agency operations. Although we have decided not to continue the TACE program beyond September 30, 2014, that decision and the decision to support the establishment of the JDVRTAC were not linked. To capitalize on the initiative of the Presidential Memorandum and the ensuing multi-agency effort to improve employment outcomes for all Americans, including individuals with disabilities, RSA determined that an expedited effort to develop the JDVRTAC proposal was warranted. RSA continues to work to develop additional TA priorities to address other areas of TA needed by State VR agencies. Changes: None. Comment: Many commenters were concerned that there had not been a formal consultation process with State VR agencies and stakeholders regarding the elimination of the current TACE Center program and that RSA had not publicly outlined its long-term plan for the provision of TA to those agencies. Some of these commenters believed that RSA should conduct a national needs assessment to solicit from State VR agencies and other stakeholders about their views on the most important TA needs. Many of these commenters stated that the current TACE Centers should be continued or, at a minimum, funded for one additional year to allow for a more orderly transition and time for public consultation about the development of a new TA system. Discussion: Although the discussion of an overall plan for TA activity and specific solutions for meeting multiple TA needs is beyond the scope of this notice, we feel it is important to take this opportunity to provide some additional background about the Department’s plans regarding the provision of TA to State VR agencies. Approximately 16 months ago, the Department decided to extend the current system of ten TACE Centers, with additional funding, through September 30, 2014. The Department plans to allow those TACE Centers that have funds remaining to continue to operate for another year using funds that have been previously obligated in order to ensure timely completion of the projects. In the coming months, we will begin the process of finalizing our longoffice/2014/01/30/presidential-memorandum-jobdriven-training-workers. E:\FR\FM\19AUR1.SGM 19AUR1 wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES 48984 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 160 / Tuesday, August 19, 2014 / Rules and Regulations term TA strategy and plan. At that time, we will invite stakeholder comment to ensure that our plan is structured to meet the needs of State VR agencies and VR consumers while also ensuring the most effective and efficient use of limited Federal resources. Changes: None. Comment: While some commenters said that the focus on employer-driven activities and the content of the JDVRTAC was important, other commenters said that the JDVRTAC priority is not needed because their State VR agency is already involved with employer engagement activities and using labor market and occupational information. Many of these commenters also suggested that the JDVRTAC would duplicate efforts conducted by the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) through the National Employment Team (NET) and the related Talent Acquisition Portal (TAP). However, other commenters said that the focus on job-driven, employerrelated topics in the JDVRTAC is needed and that such information would be of interest to them. Discussion: We recognize that State VR agency practices vary with respect to the use of job-driven strategies. From RSA monitoring visits, we know that some agencies have already implemented comprehensive job-driven systems, including the use of labor market and occupational information, outreach to employers, and the provision of services to employers related to employees with disabilities. We expect that these States will have less need to seek out intensive TA from the JDVRTAC, allowing the JDVRTAC to primarily focus resources on those States that have not implemented such comprehensive systems. Changes: None. Comment: Several commenters expressed concern that a national center staff would not be knowledgeable about regional issues and needs, such as the needs of rural areas and States with small populations. Discussion: It is the Department’s expectation that the JDVRTAC will provide intensive TA to, and develop a range of TA products appropriate for, a wide array of States and populations, including rural areas. During the course of the national needs assessment in the first year, we expect the JDVRTAC to identify any special TA needs unique to rural areas and small States, as well as those unique to other potential TA recipients. Additionally, the priority requires the JDVRTAC to conduct various activities designed to ensure VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:25 Aug 18, 2014 Jkt 232001 contact and interaction with State VR agencies, including development of a plan for outreach and communication with State VR agencies and for establishing communities of practice. The priority also requires applicants to demonstrate that key project personnel have the qualifications and experience to provide TA to States in the job-driven topic areas identified in the priority. Changes: None. Comment: Several commenters were concerned that the JDVRTAC priority does not support CE and, instead, funds TA only. Discussion: The JDVRTAC priority is focused on job-driven approaches. It does not eliminate support for CE, but does limit the topic areas on which such activities are conducted. Specifically, the proposed priority allows for training, Webinars, and presentations related to the job-driven topic areas included in the center. However, it does not support the provision of CE on other, unrelated topics. If State VR agencies believe it is necessary to support additional CE activities outside of those provided by the JDVRTAC or the TACE Centers (or any future TA investment supported by the Department), State VR agencies may use Title I VR program funds to support those activities. Changes: None. Comment: Several commenters were concerned that the JDVRTAC priority signaled a shift in emphasis for the VR program, from a program that is intended to meet the employment needs of individuals with disabilities to one in which the employer is the predominant customer. Discussion: We agree that employers are not the sole customer of the VR program. However, the Department does not agree that a JDVRTAC addressing job-driven activities represents a fundamental reorganization of priorities. Employer-related activities have long been functions of State VR agencies (e.g., the employer-related activities of CSAVR in support of the NET and the TAP). Moreover, the topic areas within the priority are focused not just on the needs of employers, but on the needs of individuals with disabilities, specifically the improvement of their employment outcomes. For example, one focus of the priority is the use of labor market and occupational information, which is designed to help individuals with disabilities make informed choices about vocational goals. Further, we expect the focus on employer engagement strategies will open up new employment options and create new opportunities for individuals PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 with disabilities. Finally, we expect that an increase in the availability of employer-driven training options will lead to jobs with good pay and in occupations not historically available to individuals with disabilities, thereby increasing employment options for these individuals. We also note that nothing in the priority requires State VR agencies to engage only in job-driven strategies or to develop individual vocational objectives based only on job-driven information and activities. Changes: None. Comment: Several commenters were concerned that only 16 agencies would receive intensive TA from the JDVRTAC over the three-year grant period. Discussion: The JDVRTAC priority requires the JDVRTAC to conduct a minimum of 16 intensive TA activities during the three-year grant period. This number is a minimum requirement, not an upper limit, taking into account time, estimates of available resources, and the intensive nature of the interventions. As noted above, not all State VR agencies may need intensive TA activities related to job-driven strategies. General and targeted TA, including communities of practice, would still be available to all State VR agencies. Changes: None. Comment: Four commenters asked about how the 16 State VR agencies mentioned in the priority will be chosen to receive intensive TA. One commenter was concerned that RSA might make these decisions, and another was concerned that there were no criteria to assist the successful applicant to make these decisions. Discussion: We envision that the 16 State VR agencies will be self-selected based on their interest and commitment in implementing job-driven activities. Ideally, the JDVRTAC would develop knowledge, skills, and intervention strategies that State VR agencies would desire to implement, or the State VR agencies would suggest job-driven strategies that they wish to implement with the assistance of the JDVRTAC. In the event that the number of requests exceeds available resources, RSA may be involved with the prioritization of requests in its role in implementing the cooperative agreement. We would base prioritization decisions on each State VR agency’s commitment to making change, and the level of change and resource utilization that best fits a State VR agency’s situation, as reflected in the terms of its cooperative agreement with the JDVRTAC. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked what would happen after the three-year E:\FR\FM\19AUR1.SGM 19AUR1 wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 160 / Tuesday, August 19, 2014 / Rules and Regulations grant period and whether additional assistance with job-driven activities would continue to be available so that more agencies might receive assistance. Discussion: We have not decided if or how the activities of the JDVRTAC will be continued beyond the proposed three-year funding period. Future funding of this priority is beyond the scope of this notice. Changes: None. Comment: Four commenters stated that the priority is too prescriptive and is a ‘‘one size fits all’’ approach that will not meet the needs of many State VR agencies. Discussion: The priority is intended to support a topical center with a focus on job-driven activities. The JDVRTAC is not intended to be a comprehensive solution for all TA needs. The JDVRTAC will collect and develop multiple strategies to implement effective jobdriven approaches. Additionally, we expect that all intensive TA engagements will be specifically tailored to the needs of the particular State VR agency receiving those services. As such, the actual services provided and TA topics covered in any intensive TA engagement will likely vary from State to State. This is the purpose of requiring intensive TA in addition to universal or targeted TA. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested replacing the term ‘‘employer’’ with the term ‘‘business’’ as it is the term preferred by most in the business community. Discussion: ‘‘Employer’’ and ‘‘employer associations’’ are the terms used in the Presidential Memorandum. Accordingly, we use the term ‘‘employer’’ for purposes of this competition, but the JDVRTAC may use another term in its work. Change: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that the requirement in paragraph (b)(4)(iii)(B) of the Application Requirements for the JDVRTAC to assess the State VR agencies’ ability to effectively respond to TA is inappropriate and condescending. Rather, the commenter suggested that the JDVRTAC instead evaluate an agency’s infrastructure, available resources, and commitment. Discussion: We agree that these factors are important for the JDVRTAC to consider when identifying recipients of intensive TA, which is why we included similar language in subparagraph (b)(4)(iv)(B) of the Application Requirements. However, we do not believe these extra points of analysis are necessary when determining recipients of targeted, VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:25 Aug 18, 2014 Jkt 232001 specialized TA, which are not usually specifically individualized for particular State VR agencies. Change: None. Comment: One commenter recommended that the priority require information technology (IT) platforms to be fully accessible to individuals with disabilities. Discussion: We agree that IT platforms supported under this priority should be fully accessible to individuals with disabilities. However, the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Department policies already require full accessibility of the Web sites and electronic content of Department grantees. As such, additional language in this priority will not create any additional accessibility requirements. However, we have reiterated that all TA efforts through IT platforms must meet government and industry-recognized standards for accessibility. Changes: We have added a note following paragraph (b)(1) of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Activities section of the priority to clarify that IT platforms must meet government and industry-recognized standards for accessibility. Comment: Two commenters suggested that, rather than building an entirely new IT platform, a more cost-effective approach to making information accessible would be for the JDVRTAC to build upon existing platforms, or enter into a partnership with organizations with national scope that have suitable platforms. Discussion: The Department agrees that, to the extent that compliant platforms exist or can be modified to fully meet the IT requirements of this priority, this approach may be more efficient. Changes: We have added a note following paragraph (b)(2) of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Activities section of this priority clarifying that a grantee can meet the requirements of paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(2) by either developing new platforms or modifying existing platforms, so long as the IT requirements of this priority are met. Comment: One commenter suggested that we include the following topics as part of the JDVRTAC activities: Marketing/branding for hiring individuals with disabilities; developing a common language between VR and business; and developing an inventory of promising employer engagement practices. Discussion: We agree that these are all strategies that relate to the purpose and activities of the JDVRTAC. Nothing in the priority prohibits the JDVRTAC from PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 48985 providing TA in any of these topic areas. Changes: None. Comment: Two commenters suggested including additional areas of emphasis in the JDVRTAC priority. One commenter suggested that we add a focus on transportation, as transportation is often a significant barrier to employment. The other commenter suggested that assistive technology (AT) needs should be a major focus of the priority. Discussion: There is no language in the priority that prohibits the JDVRTAC from providing TA on AT and transportation as part of its job-driven activities. However, because these topics are not the primary focus of the JDVRTAC, we do not believe additional emphasis on these areas is necessary. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that the JDVRTAC and its job-driven activities cannot address all of the factors that are necessary to improve employment outcomes. The commenter suggested that a better outcome measure for this priority would be an increase in the number of employment outcomes in competitive integrated setting resulting specifically from job-driven strategies. Discussion: The Department agrees. Although it is important to track the impact of job-driven strategies on the total outcomes of the State VR agency, the primary intended outcome of this priority is to increase competitive, integrated employment outcomes through job-driven activities. Changes: We added language in the purpose of the priority clarifying that one goal of the JDVRTAC is to increase employment outcomes as a result of jobdriven activities. Comment: One commenter was concerned that employment outcomes cannot be achieved in the time period of the grant. The commenter noted that the average length of time in a consumer’s individualized plan of VR services is 24 months, and the duration of the project is only 36 months. Accordingly, the commenter suggested that RSA modify the JDVRTAC’s stated purpose to focus not on employment outcomes, but instead on increasing the capacity to provide job-driven employment solutions as a purpose of the center. Discussion: The commenter is correct about the average length of time a new consumer spends in the VR program, compared to the duration of the JDVRTAC. However, the comment assumes that only new consumers referred to the VR system would benefit from the TA provided by the JDVRTAC. Existing VR consumers who have E:\FR\FM\19AUR1.SGM 19AUR1 wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES 48986 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 160 / Tuesday, August 19, 2014 / Rules and Regulations completed their plans could benefit from interventions related to employer engagement that result in greater availability of jobs. However, we recognize that some outcomes for the JDVRTAC may be long-term. As such, intermediate outcomes and measures will be negotiated as part of the development of the cooperative agreement as discussed in the Performance Measures section of the notice inviting applications (published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register). Change: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we revise outcome (c)—Increase the number of VR-eligible individuals with disabilities in employer-driven job training programs—to also include VReligible individuals with disabilities in other job-training programs that are responsive to employer needs and job market trends. Discussion: As written, the priority already allows for customized training and other types of training that are directly responsive to employer needs and hiring requirements. Changes: None. Comment: Several commenters suggested that we require the JDVRTAC to collaborate and coordinate with the NET and the TAP, projects developed by CSAVR, which provide a process for employer engagement and the provision of some job-driven services at the national level. Discussion: We agree that collaboration and coordination with relevant projects developed by CSAVR, including the NET and the TAP, are essential to avoid duplication of services. We included language in paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of the Application Requirements requiring applicants to describe their plan for communicating and coordinating with various entities, including CSAVR and the NET. Changes: None. Comment: Several commenters suggested that we require the JDVRTAC to collaborate and coordinate the Department of Labor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) grantees and its National Employment Policy Research and Technical Assistance Center. Discussion: We agree that it is important for the JDVRTAC to consult with relevant programs and TA centers sponsored by other agencies, including the Department of Labor. As such, we included in section (b)(1)(iii) of the Application Requirements a requirement for applicants to describe their plans for communicating and coordinating with such entities. While we believe that consulting with these VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:25 Aug 18, 2014 Jkt 232001 entities is beneficial, we also believe that specifically naming each relevant program or TA center is unnecessary. Changes: None. Comment: A few commenters asked whether the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services (AIVRS) projects are eligible to receive TA from the JDVRTAC. Discussion: Any service provider will have access to targeted and universal TA products generated by the JDVRTAC. With regard to intensive TA services, AIVRS projects may receive such services where they are a result of collaborative arrangements between State VR agencies and AIVRS projects to include AIVRS projects in the State VR Agency business outreach plan, and where such services are included in the intensive TA agreement between the State VR agency and the JDVRTAC. However, we do not believe that they should be primary recipients of JDVRTAC services. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked whether the JDVRTAC can provide TA services to Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPs) that are part of the State VR agency business outreach plan. Discussion: We do not believe that CRPs should be a primary recipient of JDVRTAC services. However, as with the AIVRS projects, if CRPs are an integral part of the State VR agency business outreach plan, the JDVRTAC can provide intensive TA services to improve CRP services as part of that plan as negotiated in the intensive TA agreement between the State VR agency and the JDVRTAC. Additionally, CRPs can access and use universal and targeted TA products made publicly available by the JDVRTAC. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we require the JDVRTAC to use and expand existing employer-offered ‘‘train and place’’ models, such as REDIWalgreens and Project Search, and expand existing efforts to customize employer-driven, community based training opportunities for permanent employment, and skill- and resumebuilding paid work activity. This commenter also recommended the use of community conversations to engage employers and community partners in the discussion on how they can assist in the employment of individuals with disabilities. Discussion: We believe these are all good suggestions. However, we believe that these activities should not be requirements but rather options to investigate during the first year of the project. Any inclusion of these PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 suggestions should develop out of the JDVRTAC’s initial exploration and need. Changes: We have added language in paragraph (a) of the Knowledge Development Activities section of the priority to clarify that the JDVRTAC should also, in its first year, survey employer-sponsored and public-private partnership programs. Comment: One commenter submitted a list of proposed application requirements for applicants to address in their application. Specifically, the commenter proposed that applicants must: Demonstrate an understanding of the VR program nationally, the needs of business, and demand-driven approaches; include a robust research and evaluation component; and demonstrate experience delivering training and TA, and experience with and current involvement in national and regional partnerships that would support national dissemination efforts. Discussion: We agree that many of these factors are important for applicants to address. Although we believe that the priority already addresses many of these elements, we agree that we should emphasize the importance of understanding the needs of businesses that employ individuals with disabilities. Changes: We have added language regarding knowledge of the needs of business in relation to the employment of individuals with disabilities in paragraph (a)(1)(i) of the Application Requirements section of the priority to expand the knowledge requirement beyond employer engagement only. Final Priority The purpose of this priority is to fund a cooperative agreement to establish a Job-Driven Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center (JDVRTAC) to achieve, at a minimum, the following outcomes: (a) Improve the ability of State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies to work with employers and providers of training to ensure equal access to and greater opportunities for individuals with disabilities to engage in competitive employment or training; (b) Increase the number and quality of employment outcomes in competitive, integrated settings for VR-eligible individuals with disabilities, including broadening the range of occupations for such individuals in such settings, that result from job-driven strategies; and (c) Increase the number of VR-eligible individuals with disabilities in employer-driven job training programs. The JDVRTAC will develop and provide training and technical assistance (TA) to State VR agency staff and related rehabilitation professionals E:\FR\FM\19AUR1.SGM 19AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 160 / Tuesday, August 19, 2014 / Rules and Regulations and service providers in the following four job-driven topic areas: (a) Use of labor market data and occupational information to provide individuals with disabilities with the best information regarding job demand, skills matching, supports, and education, training, and career options; (b) Disability-related consultation and services to employers related to competitive employment of individuals with disabilities (including individuals with the most significant disabilities) and strategies to recruit, train and serve employees with disabilities for the purposes of hiring, job retention, or return to work; (c) Building and maintaining relationships with employers; and (d) Services to providers of customized training and other types of training that are directly responsive to employer needs and hiring requirements. Project Activities To meet the requirements of this priority, the JDVRTAC must, at a minimum, conduct the following activities: wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES Knowledge Development Activities (a) In the first year, collect information from the literature and from existing Federal, State, and other programs, including employersponsored and public-private partnership programs, regarding evidence-based and promising practices relevant to the work of the JDVRTAC and make this information publicly available in a searchable, accessible, and useful format. The JDVRTAC should review, at a minimum: (1) The results of State VR agency monitoring conducted by RSA; and (2) State VR agency program and performance data. (b) In the first year, conduct a survey of relevant stakeholders and VR service providers to identify job-driven TA needs and a process by which TA solutions can be offered to State VR agencies and their partners. The JDVRTAC should survey, at a minimum: (1) State VR agency staff; and (2) Relevant RSA staff. (c) Develop and refine four curriculum guides for VR staff training in: (1) The use of labor market and occupational information for purposes of planning and job-matching with individuals with disabilities; (2) Building programs of employer engagement, employer services, and program participation support services for institutions providing employerdriven training programs; VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:25 Aug 18, 2014 Jkt 232001 (3) Delivery of support services to providers of customized training and other job training directly responsive to employer needs and hiring requirements to promote and support the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in such training programs; and (4) Delivery of support services to employers who hire individuals with disabilities from employer-driven training programs. Technical Assistance and Dissemination Activities (a) Provide intensive TA to a minimum of 16 State VR agencies and their associated rehabilitation professionals and service providers in the four job-driven topic areas set out in this priority. The JDVRTAC must provide intensive TA to a minimum of two agencies in the first year of the project, a minimum of ten agencies in the second year of the project, and a minimum of four agencies in the third year of the project. Such TA must include: (1) For topic area (a), how to research, understand, and use up-to-date labor market information to assist individuals with disabilities in making informed career decisions and develop vocational goals; (2) For topic area (b)— (i) How to research, understand, and use up-to-date labor market information to effectively communicate with and address the needs of— (A) Employers; (B) Job seekers with disabilities; and (C) Employees with disabilities. (ii) How to balance job-seeker skills and informed choice with the needs and demands of employers; (iii) Informational resources for employers on accommodations, including assistive technology; (iv) Effective marketing and outreach to employers, such as how best to present information about job-ready applicants to employers, including what VR counselors and placement staff need to know about a specific employer and its business; and (v) How to use occupational information resources to ensure optimal vocational guidance and counseling that result in the best fit for applicants and workers with disabilities and employers. (3) For topic area (c), how to build and maintain partnerships with employers, looking at new or existing research about the relationship between employer practices and employment outcomes among individuals with disabilities, and promising practices for employer engagement. (4) For topic area (d)— PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 48987 (i) How to identify and access employer-driven training programs; (ii) How to incorporate individuals with disabilities into training programs in which individuals with disabilities have been historically underrepresented; and (iii) How to assist VR-eligible individuals with disabilities in accessing customized training or other job training that is directly responsive to employer needs and hiring requirements, including, but not limited to, training offered by providers under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act, H–1B Ready to Work Partnership Grants, and Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants. (b) Provide a range of targeted and general TA products and services on the four job-driven topic areas in this priority. Such TA should include, at a minimum, the following activities: (1) Developing and maintaining a state-of-the-art information technology (IT) platform sufficient to support Webinars, teleconferences, video conferences, and other virtual methods of dissemination of information and TA; Note: All products produced by the JDVRTAC must meet government and industry-recognized standards for accessibility. (2) Developing and maintaining a state-of-the-art archiving and dissemination system that provides a central location for later use of TA products, including course curricula, audiovisual materials, Webinars, examples of emerging and best practices related to the four job-driven topic areas in this notice, and any other TA products, that is open and available to the public; and Note: In meeting the requirements of (b)(1) and (b)(2) above, the JDVRTAC may either develop new platforms or systems, or modify existing platforms or systems, so long as the requirements of this priority are met. (3) Providing a minimum of two Webinars or video conferences on each of the four job-driven topic areas in this notice to describe and disseminate information about emerging and best practices in each area. Coordination Activities (a) Establish a community of practice that will act as a vehicle for communication, exchange of information among State VR agencies and partners, and a forum for sharing the results of TA projects that are in progress or have been completed. Such community of practice must be focused on the use of labor market and E:\FR\FM\19AUR1.SGM 19AUR1 48988 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 160 / Tuesday, August 19, 2014 / Rules and Regulations occupational information for individual planning, employer services and communication, and support of employer-driven training services; (b) Communicate and coordinate, on an ongoing basis, with other Department-funded projects and those supported by the Departments of Labor and Commerce; and (c) Maintain ongoing communication with the RSA project officer. wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES Application Requirements To be funded under this priority, applicants must meet the application and administrative requirements in this priority. RSA encourages innovative approaches to meet these requirements, which are: (a) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under ‘‘Significance of the Project,’’ how the proposed project will— (1) Address State VR agencies’ capacity to work with employers and providers of training to ensure equal access to and greater opportunities for individuals with disabilities to engage in, competitive employment or training. To meet this requirement, the applicant must: (i) Demonstrate knowledge of emerging and best practices in employer engagement, including alignment with the needs of business related to employment of individuals with disabilities; (ii) Demonstrate knowledge of current RSA guidance and State and Federal initiatives designed to improve employer engagement and alignment of workforce training programs with employer needs; and (iii) Present information about the difficulties that State VR agencies and service providers have encountered in developing effective employer engagement plans. (2) Result in increases in both the number of VR-eligible individuals with disabilities in employer-driven jobtraining programs, and the number and quality of employment outcomes in competitive, integrated settings for VReligible individuals with disabilities, including broadening the range of occupations for such individuals in such settings. (b) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under ‘‘Quality of Project Services,’’ how the proposed project will— (1) Achieve its goals, objectives, and intended outcomes. To meet this requirement, the applicant must provide— (i) Measurable intended project outcomes; VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:25 Aug 18, 2014 Jkt 232001 (ii) A plan for how the proposed project will achieve its intended outcomes; and (iii) A plan for communicating and coordinating with key staff in State VR agencies, State and local partner programs, providers of customized training programs and other training programs that are directly responsive to employer needs and hiring requirements, RSA partners such as the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind, CSAVR’s National Employment Team, and other TA centers and relevant programs within the Departments of Education, Labor, and Commerce. (2) Use a conceptual framework to develop project plans and activities, describing any underlying concepts, assumptions, expectations, beliefs, or theories, as well as the presumed relationships or linkages among these variables, and any empirical support for this framework. (3) Be based on current research and make use of evidence-based practices. To meet this requirement, the applicant must describe— (i) The current research on the emerging and promising practices in the four job-driven topic areas in this priority; (ii) How the current research about adult learning principles and implementation science will inform the proposed TA; and (iii) How the proposed project will incorporate current research and evidence-based practices in the development and delivery of its products and services. (4) Develop products and provide services that are of high quality and sufficient intensity and duration to achieve the intended outcomes of the proposed project. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe— (i) Its proposed activities to identify or develop the knowledge base on emerging and promising practices in the four job-driven topic areas in this priority; (ii) Its proposed approach to universal, general TA; 2 2 For the purposes of this priority, ‘‘universal, general TA’’ means TA and information provided to independent users through their own initiative, resulting in minimal interaction with TA center staff and including one-time, invited or offered conference presentations by TA center staff. This category of TA also includes information or products, such as newsletters, guidebooks, or research syntheses, downloaded from the TA center’s Web site by independent users. Brief communications by TA center staff with recipients, either by telephone or email, are also considered universal, general TA. PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 (iii) Its proposed approach to targeted, specialized TA,3 which must identify— (A) The intended recipients of the products and services under this approach; and (B) Its proposed approach to measure the readiness of State VR agencies to work with the proposed project, assessing, at a minimum, their current infrastructure, available resources, and ability to effectively respond to the TA, as appropriate. (iv) Its proposed approach to intensive, sustained TA,4 which must identify— (A) The intended recipients of the products and services under this approach; (B) Its proposed approach to measure the readiness of the State VR agencies to work with the proposed project including the State VR agencies’ commitment to the initiative, fit of the initiatives, current infrastructure, available resources, and ability to respond effectively to the TA, as appropriate; (C) Its proposed plan for assisting State VR agencies to build training systems that include professional development based on adult learning principles and coaching; and (D) Its proposed plan for developing intensive TA agreements with State VR agencies to provide intensive, sustained TA. The plan must describe how the intensive TA agreements will outline the purposes of the TA, the intended outcomes of the TA, and the measurable objectives of the TA that will be evaluated. (5) Develop products and implement services to maximize the project’s efficiency. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe— (i) How the proposed project will use technology to achieve the intended project outcomes; and 3 For the purposes of this priority, ‘‘targeted, specialized TA’’ means TA service based on needs common to multiple recipients and not extensively individualized. A relationship is established between the TA recipient and one or more TA center staff. This category of TA includes one-time, labor-intensive events, such as facilitating strategic planning or hosting regional or national conferences. It can also include episodic, less laborintensive events that extend over a period of time, such as facilitating a series of conference calls on single or multiple topics that are designed around the needs of the recipients. Facilitating communities of practice can also be considered targeted, specialized TA. 4 For the purposes of this priority, ‘‘intensive, sustained TA’’ means TA services often provided on-site and requiring a stable, ongoing relationship between the TA center staff and the TA recipient. ‘‘TA services’’ are defined as negotiated series of activities designed to reach a valued outcome. This category of TA should result in changes to policy, program, practice, or operations that support increased recipient capacity or improved outcomes at one or more systems levels. E:\FR\FM\19AUR1.SGM 19AUR1 wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 160 / Tuesday, August 19, 2014 / Rules and Regulations (ii) With whom the proposed project will collaborate and the intended outcomes of this collaboration. (c) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under ‘‘Quality of the Evaluation Plan,’’ how the proposed project will— (1) Measure and track the effectiveness of the TA provided. To meet this requirement, the applicant must describe its proposed approach to— (i) Collecting data on the effectiveness of each TA activity from State VR agencies, partners, or other sources, as appropriate; and (ii) Analyzing data and determining the effectiveness of each TA activity, including any proposed standards or targets for determining effectiveness. (2) Collect and analyze data on specific and measurable goals, objectives, and intended outcomes of the project, including measuring and tracking the effectiveness of the TA provided. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe— (i) Its proposed evaluation methodologies, including instruments, data collection methods, and analyses; (ii) Its proposed standards or targets for determining effectiveness; (iii) How it will use the evaluation results to examine the effectiveness of its implementation and its progress toward achieving the intended outcomes; and (iv) How the methods of evaluation will produce quantitative and qualitative data that demonstrate whether the project and individual TA activities achieved their intended outcomes. (d) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under ‘‘Adequacy of Project Resources,’’ how— (1) The proposed project will encourage applications for employment from persons who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability, as appropriate; (2) The proposed key project personnel, consultants, and subcontractors have the qualifications and experience to provide TA to State VR agencies and their partners in each of the four job-driven topic areas in this priority and to achieve the project’s intended outcomes; (3) The applicant and any key partners have adequate resources to carry out the proposed activities; and (4) The proposed costs are reasonable in relation to the anticipated results and benefits. VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:25 Aug 18, 2014 Jkt 232001 (e) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under ‘‘Quality of the Management Plan,’’ how— (1) The proposed management plan will ensure that the project’s intended outcomes will be achieved on time and within budget. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe— (i) Clearly defined responsibilities for key project personnel, consultants, and subcontractors, as applicable; and (ii) Timelines and milestones for accomplishing the project tasks. (2) Key project personnel and any consultants and subcontractors will be allocated to the project and how these allocations are appropriate and adequate to achieve the project’s intended outcomes, including an assurance that such personnel will have adequate availability to ensure timely communications with stakeholders and RSA; (3) The proposed management plan will ensure that the products and services provided are of high quality; and (4) The proposed project will benefit from a diversity of perspectives, including those of State and local personnel, TA providers, researchers, and policy makers, among others, in its development and operation. 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 PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 48989 criteria, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements. Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in which we choose to use this priority, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal Register. Executive 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 final 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 upon 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, E:\FR\FM\19AUR1.SGM 19AUR1 wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES 48990 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 160 / Tuesday, August 19, 2014 / Rules and Regulations 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 does 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. The benefits of the Rehabilitation Training program have been well established over the years through the successful completion of similar projects, particularly those grants that provided TA to State VR agencies. Specifically, this priority would establish a JDVRTAC that would assist State VR agencies to develop employment opportunities that would be responsive to employer-driven needs for employees who have the skills to work in today’s labor market. This priority is directly responsive to the Presidential Memorandum to Federal agencies directing them to take action to address job-driven training for the Nation’s workers. Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive Order VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:25 Aug 18, 2014 Jkt 232001 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. Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document 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: August 13, 2014. Michael K. Yudin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. [FR Doc. 2014–19588 Filed 8–18–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P PRESIDIO TRUST 36 CFR Part 1002 Public Use Limit on Commercial Dog Walking The Presidio Trust. Final rule. AGENCY: ACTION: The Presidio Trust (Trust) is adopting an interim rule imposing a public use limit on persons who are walking four or more dogs at one time in Area B of the Presidio of San SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Francisco (Presidio) for consideration (Commercial Dog Walkers). The limit will require any such Commercial Dog Walker in Area B to possess a valid commercial dog walking permit issued by the National Park Service (NPS), Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). Commercial Dog Walkers will be allowed a maximum of six dogs at any one time. Commercial Dog Walkers will be required to comply with the terms and conditions of the GGNRA permit as well as those rules and regulations otherwise applicable to Area B of the Presidio, and to visibly display their badges when engaging in commercial dog walking activities within Area B. To obtain a GGNRA permit, applicants must submit a business license, proof of liability insurance, and proof of dog-handling training from an existing training course provider (such as the San Francisco SPCA). The GGNRA commercial dog walking permit requirement is a compendium amendment for all GGNRA sites in San Francisco and Marin Counties that allow dog walking, and is being implemented concurrently with the Trust’s rule. Both are interim actions and will remain in effect until the final special regulation for dog walking in the GGNRA is adopted as anticipated in late 2015, at which time the Trust expects that it will adopt a final rule following public input and comment. The Trust is no longer pursuing its proposed rule on Commercial Dog Walkers published in the Federal Register on November 21, 2012. This rule will become effective October 1, 2014. DATES: John Pelka, Compliance Manager, Presidio Trust, 415.561.5300 or commercialdogwalking@ presidiotrust.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Effective July 1, 2013, the City and County of San Francisco (City) passed legislation requiring Commercial Dog Walkers to carry a valid annually renewed dog walking permit issued by the San Francisco Department of Animal Care & Control. Under 36 CFR 1001.5, the Trust may impose reasonable public use limits in Area B, given a determination that such action is necessary to maintain public health and safety, to protect environmental or scenic values, to protect natural or cultural resources, or to avoid conflict among visitor use activities. On November 21, 2012, in direct response to the City’s commercial dog walking regulations, the Trust requested public comment on a SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\19AUR1.SGM 19AUR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 160 (Tuesday, August 19, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 48983-48990]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-19588]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Chapter III

[CFDA Number: 84.264A.]


Final priority. Rehabilitation Training: Job-Driven Vocational 
Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center

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

ACTION: Final priority.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services announces a priority under the Rehabilitation 
Training program to establish a Job-Driven Vocational Rehabilitation 
Technical Assistance Center (JDVRTAC). The Assistant Secretary may use 
this priority for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2014 and later 
years. We take this action to focus on training in an area of national 
need. Specifically, this priority responds to the Presidential 
Memorandum to Federal agencies directing them to take action to address 
job-driven training for the Nation's workers. The JDVRTAC will provide 
technical assistance (TA) to State vocational rehabilitation (VR) 
agencies to help them develop for individuals with disabilities 
training and employment opportunities that meet the needs of today's 
employers.

DATES: This priority is effective September 18, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jerry Elliott, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5042, Potomac Center Plaza 
(PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2800. Telephone: (202) 245-7335 or by 
email: jerry.elliott@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: 
    Purpose of Program: Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as 
amended (the Rehabilitation Act), the Rehabilitation Services 
Administration (RSA) makes grants to States and public or nonprofit 
agencies and organizations (including institutions of higher education) 
to support projects that provide training, traineeships, and TA 
designed to increase the numbers and improve the skills of qualified 
personnel (especially rehabilitation counselors) who are trained to: 
Provide vocational, medical, social, and psychological rehabilitation 
services to individuals with disabilities; assist individuals with 
communication and related disorders; and provide other services 
authorized under the Rehabilitation Act.

    Program Authority:  29 U.S.C. 772(a)(1).

    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 385.
    We published a notice of proposed priority for this competition in 
the Federal Register on June 19, 2014 (79 FR 35121). That notice 
contained background information and our reasons for proposing the 
particular priority. There are differences between the proposed 
priority and the final priority, and we explain those differences in 
the Analysis of Comments and Changes section of this notice.
    Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the notice of 
proposed priority, 83 parties submitted comments on the proposed 
priority.
    Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes.
    Analysis of the 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 majority of commenters expressed concern that the 
proposed priority for the JDVRTAC would specifically replace the ten 
Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) Centers that 
provide TA and continuing education (CE) in designated geographical 
areas and that the JDVRTAC would not meet all of the needs of State VR 
agencies.
    Discussion: We recognize the commenters' concerns. However, the 
JDVRTAC is not meant to replace or replicate the services provided by 
the TACE Centers and will not be the Department's sole TA investment 
focused on supporting State VR agencies. It is a single, short-term 
vehicle for providing a range of TA activities specifically related to 
the issues outlined in the Presidential Memorandum issued on January 
30, 2014 \1\ (Presidential Memorandum), which directed the Secretaries 
of the Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Education to take action to 
address job-driven training for the Nation's workers. The JDVRTAC is 
intended to be a topical center focused on assisting State VR agencies 
to incorporate job-driven techniques into agency operations.
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    \1\ Obama, B.H. (2014). Presidential Memorandum on Job-Driven 
Training for Workers. January 30, 2014. Available at: 
www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/30/presidential-memorandum-job-driven-training-workers.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Although we have decided not to continue the TACE program beyond 
September 30, 2014, that decision and the decision to support the 
establishment of the JDVRTAC were not linked. To capitalize on the 
initiative of the Presidential Memorandum and the ensuing multi-agency 
effort to improve employment outcomes for all Americans, including 
individuals with disabilities, RSA determined that an expedited effort 
to develop the JDVRTAC proposal was warranted. RSA continues to work to 
develop additional TA priorities to address other areas of TA needed by 
State VR agencies.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters were concerned that there had not been a 
formal consultation process with State VR agencies and stakeholders 
regarding the elimination of the current TACE Center program and that 
RSA had not publicly outlined its long-term plan for the provision of 
TA to those agencies.
    Some of these commenters believed that RSA should conduct a 
national needs assessment to solicit from State VR agencies and other 
stakeholders about their views on the most important TA needs. Many of 
these commenters stated that the current TACE Centers should be 
continued or, at a minimum, funded for one additional year to allow for 
a more orderly transition and time for public consultation about the 
development of a new TA system.
    Discussion: Although the discussion of an overall plan for TA 
activity and specific solutions for meeting multiple TA needs is beyond 
the scope of this notice, we feel it is important to take this 
opportunity to provide some additional background about the 
Department's plans regarding the provision of TA to State VR agencies. 
Approximately 16 months ago, the Department decided to extend the 
current system of ten TACE Centers, with additional funding, through 
September 30, 2014. The Department plans to allow those TACE Centers 
that have funds remaining to continue to operate for another year using 
funds that have been previously obligated in order to ensure timely 
completion of the projects. In the coming months, we will begin the 
process of finalizing our long-

[[Page 48984]]

term TA strategy and plan. At that time, we will invite stakeholder 
comment to ensure that our plan is structured to meet the needs of 
State VR agencies and VR consumers while also ensuring the most 
effective and efficient use of limited Federal resources.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: While some commenters said that the focus on employer-
driven activities and the content of the JDVRTAC was important, other 
commenters said that the JDVRTAC priority is not needed because their 
State VR agency is already involved with employer engagement activities 
and using labor market and occupational information. Many of these 
commenters also suggested that the JDVRTAC would duplicate efforts 
conducted by the Council of State Administrators of Vocational 
Rehabilitation (CSAVR) through the National Employment Team (NET) and 
the related Talent Acquisition Portal (TAP).
    However, other commenters said that the focus on job-driven, 
employer-related topics in the JDVRTAC is needed and that such 
information would be of interest to them.
    Discussion: We recognize that State VR agency practices vary with 
respect to the use of job-driven strategies. From RSA monitoring 
visits, we know that some agencies have already implemented 
comprehensive job-driven systems, including the use of labor market and 
occupational information, outreach to employers, and the provision of 
services to employers related to employees with disabilities. We expect 
that these States will have less need to seek out intensive TA from the 
JDVRTAC, allowing the JDVRTAC to primarily focus resources on those 
States that have not implemented such comprehensive systems.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters expressed concern that a national 
center staff would not be knowledgeable about regional issues and 
needs, such as the needs of rural areas and States with small 
populations.
    Discussion: It is the Department's expectation that the JDVRTAC 
will provide intensive TA to, and develop a range of TA products 
appropriate for, a wide array of States and populations, including 
rural areas. During the course of the national needs assessment in the 
first year, we expect the JDVRTAC to identify any special TA needs 
unique to rural areas and small States, as well as those unique to 
other potential TA recipients. Additionally, the priority requires the 
JDVRTAC to conduct various activities designed to ensure contact and 
interaction with State VR agencies, including development of a plan for 
outreach and communication with State VR agencies and for establishing 
communities of practice. The priority also requires applicants to 
demonstrate that key project personnel have the qualifications and 
experience to provide TA to States in the job-driven topic areas 
identified in the priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters were concerned that the JDVRTAC 
priority does not support CE and, instead, funds TA only.
    Discussion: The JDVRTAC priority is focused on job-driven 
approaches. It does not eliminate support for CE, but does limit the 
topic areas on which such activities are conducted. Specifically, the 
proposed priority allows for training, Webinars, and presentations 
related to the job-driven topic areas included in the center. However, 
it does not support the provision of CE on other, unrelated topics. If 
State VR agencies believe it is necessary to support additional CE 
activities outside of those provided by the JDVRTAC or the TACE Centers 
(or any future TA investment supported by the Department), State VR 
agencies may use Title I VR program funds to support those activities.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters were concerned that the JDVRTAC 
priority signaled a shift in emphasis for the VR program, from a 
program that is intended to meet the employment needs of individuals 
with disabilities to one in which the employer is the predominant 
customer.
    Discussion: We agree that employers are not the sole customer of 
the VR program. However, the Department does not agree that a JDVRTAC 
addressing job-driven activities represents a fundamental 
reorganization of priorities. Employer-related activities have long 
been functions of State VR agencies (e.g., the employer-related 
activities of CSAVR in support of the NET and the TAP).
    Moreover, the topic areas within the priority are focused not just 
on the needs of employers, but on the needs of individuals with 
disabilities, specifically the improvement of their employment 
outcomes. For example, one focus of the priority is the use of labor 
market and occupational information, which is designed to help 
individuals with disabilities make informed choices about vocational 
goals. Further, we expect the focus on employer engagement strategies 
will open up new employment options and create new opportunities for 
individuals with disabilities. Finally, we expect that an increase in 
the availability of employer-driven training options will lead to jobs 
with good pay and in occupations not historically available to 
individuals with disabilities, thereby increasing employment options 
for these individuals.
    We also note that nothing in the priority requires State VR 
agencies to engage only in job-driven strategies or to develop 
individual vocational objectives based only on job-driven information 
and activities.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters were concerned that only 16 agencies 
would receive intensive TA from the JDVRTAC over the three-year grant 
period.
    Discussion: The JDVRTAC priority requires the JDVRTAC to conduct a 
minimum of 16 intensive TA activities during the three-year grant 
period. This number is a minimum requirement, not an upper limit, 
taking into account time, estimates of available resources, and the 
intensive nature of the interventions.
    As noted above, not all State VR agencies may need intensive TA 
activities related to job-driven strategies. General and targeted TA, 
including communities of practice, would still be available to all 
State VR agencies.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Four commenters asked about how the 16 State VR agencies 
mentioned in the priority will be chosen to receive intensive TA. One 
commenter was concerned that RSA might make these decisions, and 
another was concerned that there were no criteria to assist the 
successful applicant to make these decisions.
    Discussion: We envision that the 16 State VR agencies will be self-
selected based on their interest and commitment in implementing job-
driven activities. Ideally, the JDVRTAC would develop knowledge, 
skills, and intervention strategies that State VR agencies would desire 
to implement, or the State VR agencies would suggest job-driven 
strategies that they wish to implement with the assistance of the 
JDVRTAC. In the event that the number of requests exceeds available 
resources, RSA may be involved with the prioritization of requests in 
its role in implementing the cooperative agreement. We would base 
prioritization decisions on each State VR agency's commitment to making 
change, and the level of change and resource utilization that best fits 
a State VR agency's situation, as reflected in the terms of its 
cooperative agreement with the JDVRTAC.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked what would happen after the three-year

[[Page 48985]]

grant period and whether additional assistance with job-driven 
activities would continue to be available so that more agencies might 
receive assistance.
    Discussion: We have not decided if or how the activities of the 
JDVRTAC will be continued beyond the proposed three-year funding 
period. Future funding of this priority is beyond the scope of this 
notice.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Four commenters stated that the priority is too 
prescriptive and is a ``one size fits all'' approach that will not meet 
the needs of many State VR agencies.
    Discussion: The priority is intended to support a topical center 
with a focus on job-driven activities. The JDVRTAC is not intended to 
be a comprehensive solution for all TA needs. The JDVRTAC will collect 
and develop multiple strategies to implement effective job-driven 
approaches. Additionally, we expect that all intensive TA engagements 
will be specifically tailored to the needs of the particular State VR 
agency receiving those services. As such, the actual services provided 
and TA topics covered in any intensive TA engagement will likely vary 
from State to State. This is the purpose of requiring intensive TA in 
addition to universal or targeted TA.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested replacing the term ``employer'' 
with the term ``business'' as it is the term preferred by most in the 
business community.
    Discussion: ``Employer'' and ``employer associations'' are the 
terms used in the Presidential Memorandum. Accordingly, we use the term 
``employer'' for purposes of this competition, but the JDVRTAC may use 
another term in its work.
    Change: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the requirement in paragraph 
(b)(4)(iii)(B) of the Application Requirements for the JDVRTAC to 
assess the State VR agencies' ability to effectively respond to TA is 
inappropriate and condescending. Rather, the commenter suggested that 
the JDVRTAC instead evaluate an agency's infrastructure, available 
resources, and commitment.
    Discussion: We agree that these factors are important for the 
JDVRTAC to consider when identifying recipients of intensive TA, which 
is why we included similar language in subparagraph (b)(4)(iv)(B) of 
the Application Requirements. However, we do not believe these extra 
points of analysis are necessary when determining recipients of 
targeted, specialized TA, which are not usually specifically 
individualized for particular State VR agencies.
    Change: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the priority require 
information technology (IT) platforms to be fully accessible to 
individuals with disabilities.
    Discussion: We agree that IT platforms supported under this 
priority should be fully accessible to individuals with disabilities. 
However, the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, 
and Department policies already require full accessibility of the Web 
sites and electronic content of Department grantees. As such, 
additional language in this priority will not create any additional 
accessibility requirements. However, we have reiterated that all TA 
efforts through IT platforms must meet government and industry-
recognized standards for accessibility.
    Changes: We have added a note following paragraph (b)(1) of the 
Technical Assistance and Dissemination Activities section of the 
priority to clarify that IT platforms must meet government and 
industry-recognized standards for accessibility.
    Comment: Two commenters suggested that, rather than building an 
entirely new IT platform, a more cost-effective approach to making 
information accessible would be for the JDVRTAC to build upon existing 
platforms, or enter into a partnership with organizations with national 
scope that have suitable platforms.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that, to the extent that 
compliant platforms exist or can be modified to fully meet the IT 
requirements of this priority, this approach may be more efficient.
    Changes: We have added a note following paragraph (b)(2) of the 
Technical Assistance and Dissemination Activities section of this 
priority clarifying that a grantee can meet the requirements of 
paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(2) by either developing new platforms or 
modifying existing platforms, so long as the IT requirements of this 
priority are met.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we include the following 
topics as part of the JDVRTAC activities: Marketing/branding for hiring 
individuals with disabilities; developing a common language between VR 
and business; and developing an inventory of promising employer 
engagement practices.
    Discussion: We agree that these are all strategies that relate to 
the purpose and activities of the JDVRTAC. Nothing in the priority 
prohibits the JDVRTAC from providing TA in any of these topic areas.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters suggested including additional areas of 
emphasis in the JDVRTAC priority. One commenter suggested that we add a 
focus on transportation, as transportation is often a significant 
barrier to employment. The other commenter suggested that assistive 
technology (AT) needs should be a major focus of the priority.
    Discussion: There is no language in the priority that prohibits the 
JDVRTAC from providing TA on AT and transportation as part of its job-
driven activities. However, because these topics are not the primary 
focus of the JDVRTAC, we do not believe additional emphasis on these 
areas is necessary.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the JDVRTAC and its job-
driven activities cannot address all of the factors that are necessary 
to improve employment outcomes. The commenter suggested that a better 
outcome measure for this priority would be an increase in the number of 
employment outcomes in competitive integrated setting resulting 
specifically from job-driven strategies.
    Discussion: The Department agrees. Although it is important to 
track the impact of job-driven strategies on the total outcomes of the 
State VR agency, the primary intended outcome of this priority is to 
increase competitive, integrated employment outcomes through job-driven 
activities.
    Changes: We added language in the purpose of the priority 
clarifying that one goal of the JDVRTAC is to increase employment 
outcomes as a result of job-driven activities.
    Comment: One commenter was concerned that employment outcomes 
cannot be achieved in the time period of the grant. The commenter noted 
that the average length of time in a consumer's individualized plan of 
VR services is 24 months, and the duration of the project is only 36 
months. Accordingly, the commenter suggested that RSA modify the 
JDVRTAC's stated purpose to focus not on employment outcomes, but 
instead on increasing the capacity to provide job-driven employment 
solutions as a purpose of the center.
    Discussion: The commenter is correct about the average length of 
time a new consumer spends in the VR program, compared to the duration 
of the JDVRTAC. However, the comment assumes that only new consumers 
referred to the VR system would benefit from the TA provided by the 
JDVRTAC. Existing VR consumers who have

[[Page 48986]]

completed their plans could benefit from interventions related to 
employer engagement that result in greater availability of jobs. 
However, we recognize that some outcomes for the JDVRTAC may be long-
term. As such, intermediate outcomes and measures will be negotiated as 
part of the development of the cooperative agreement as discussed in 
the Performance Measures section of the notice inviting applications 
(published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register).
    Change: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we revise outcome (c)--
Increase the number of VR-eligible individuals with disabilities in 
employer-driven job training programs--to also include VR-eligible 
individuals with disabilities in other job-training programs that are 
responsive to employer needs and job market trends.
    Discussion: As written, the priority already allows for customized 
training and other types of training that are directly responsive to 
employer needs and hiring requirements.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that we require the JDVRTAC 
to collaborate and coordinate with the NET and the TAP, projects 
developed by CSAVR, which provide a process for employer engagement and 
the provision of some job-driven services at the national level.
    Discussion: We agree that collaboration and coordination with 
relevant projects developed by CSAVR, including the NET and the TAP, 
are essential to avoid duplication of services. We included language in 
paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of the Application Requirements requiring 
applicants to describe their plan for communicating and coordinating 
with various entities, including CSAVR and the NET.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that we require the JDVRTAC 
to collaborate and coordinate the Department of Labor's Science, 
Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) grantees and its National 
Employment Policy Research and Technical Assistance Center.
    Discussion: We agree that it is important for the JDVRTAC to 
consult with relevant programs and TA centers sponsored by other 
agencies, including the Department of Labor. As such, we included in 
section (b)(1)(iii) of the Application Requirements a requirement for 
applicants to describe their plans for communicating and coordinating 
with such entities. While we believe that consulting with these 
entities is beneficial, we also believe that specifically naming each 
relevant program or TA center is unnecessary.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters asked whether the American Indian 
Vocational Rehabilitation Services (AIVRS) projects are eligible to 
receive TA from the JDVRTAC.
    Discussion: Any service provider will have access to targeted and 
universal TA products generated by the JDVRTAC. With regard to 
intensive TA services, AIVRS projects may receive such services where 
they are a result of collaborative arrangements between State VR 
agencies and AIVRS projects to include AIVRS projects in the State VR 
Agency business outreach plan, and where such services are included in 
the intensive TA agreement between the State VR agency and the JDVRTAC. 
However, we do not believe that they should be primary recipients of 
JDVRTAC services.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked whether the JDVRTAC can provide TA 
services to Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPs) that are part of 
the State VR agency business outreach plan.
    Discussion: We do not believe that CRPs should be a primary 
recipient of JDVRTAC services. However, as with the AIVRS projects, if 
CRPs are an integral part of the State VR agency business outreach 
plan, the JDVRTAC can provide intensive TA services to improve CRP 
services as part of that plan as negotiated in the intensive TA 
agreement between the State VR agency and the JDVRTAC. Additionally, 
CRPs can access and use universal and targeted TA products made 
publicly available by the JDVRTAC.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we require the JDVRTAC to use 
and expand existing employer-offered ``train and place'' models, such 
as REDI-Walgreens and Project Search, and expand existing efforts to 
customize employer-driven, community based training opportunities for 
permanent employment, and skill- and resume-building paid work 
activity. This commenter also recommended the use of community 
conversations to engage employers and community partners in the 
discussion on how they can assist in the employment of individuals with 
disabilities.
    Discussion: We believe these are all good suggestions. However, we 
believe that these activities should not be requirements but rather 
options to investigate during the first year of the project. Any 
inclusion of these suggestions should develop out of the JDVRTAC's 
initial exploration and need.
    Changes: We have added language in paragraph (a) of the Knowledge 
Development Activities section of the priority to clarify that the 
JDVRTAC should also, in its first year, survey employer-sponsored and 
public-private partnership programs.
    Comment: One commenter submitted a list of proposed application 
requirements for applicants to address in their application. 
Specifically, the commenter proposed that applicants must: Demonstrate 
an understanding of the VR program nationally, the needs of business, 
and demand-driven approaches; include a robust research and evaluation 
component; and demonstrate experience delivering training and TA, and 
experience with and current involvement in national and regional 
partnerships that would support national dissemination efforts.
    Discussion: We agree that many of these factors are important for 
applicants to address. Although we believe that the priority already 
addresses many of these elements, we agree that we should emphasize the 
importance of understanding the needs of businesses that employ 
individuals with disabilities.
    Changes: We have added language regarding knowledge of the needs of 
business in relation to the employment of individuals with disabilities 
in paragraph (a)(1)(i) of the Application Requirements section of the 
priority to expand the knowledge requirement beyond employer engagement 
only.

Final Priority

    The purpose of this priority is to fund a cooperative agreement to 
establish a Job-Driven Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance 
Center (JDVRTAC) to achieve, at a minimum, the following outcomes: (a) 
Improve the ability of State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies to 
work with employers and providers of training to ensure equal access to 
and greater opportunities for individuals with disabilities to engage 
in competitive employment or training; (b) Increase the number and 
quality of employment outcomes in competitive, integrated settings for 
VR-eligible individuals with disabilities, including broadening the 
range of occupations for such individuals in such settings, that result 
from job-driven strategies; and (c) Increase the number of VR-eligible 
individuals with disabilities in employer-driven job training programs.
    The JDVRTAC will develop and provide training and technical 
assistance (TA) to State VR agency staff and related rehabilitation 
professionals

[[Page 48987]]

and service providers in the following four job-driven topic areas:
    (a) Use of labor market data and occupational information to 
provide individuals with disabilities with the best information 
regarding job demand, skills matching, supports, and education, 
training, and career options;
    (b) Disability-related consultation and services to employers 
related to competitive employment of individuals with disabilities 
(including individuals with the most significant disabilities) and 
strategies to recruit, train and serve employees with disabilities for 
the purposes of hiring, job retention, or return to work;
    (c) Building and maintaining relationships with employers; and
    (d) Services to providers of customized training and other types of 
training that are directly responsive to employer needs and hiring 
requirements.

Project Activities

    To meet the requirements of this priority, the JDVRTAC must, at a 
minimum, conduct the following activities:

Knowledge Development Activities

    (a) In the first year, collect information from the literature and 
from existing Federal, State, and other programs, including employer-
sponsored and public-private partnership programs, regarding evidence-
based and promising practices relevant to the work of the JDVRTAC and 
make this information publicly available in a searchable, accessible, 
and useful format. The JDVRTAC should review, at a minimum:
    (1) The results of State VR agency monitoring conducted by RSA; and
    (2) State VR agency program and performance data.
    (b) In the first year, conduct a survey of relevant stakeholders 
and VR service providers to identify job-driven TA needs and a process 
by which TA solutions can be offered to State VR agencies and their 
partners. The JDVRTAC should survey, at a minimum:
    (1) State VR agency staff; and
    (2) Relevant RSA staff.
    (c) Develop and refine four curriculum guides for VR staff training 
in:
    (1) The use of labor market and occupational information for 
purposes of planning and job-matching with individuals with 
disabilities;
    (2) Building programs of employer engagement, employer services, 
and program participation support services for institutions providing 
employer-driven training programs;
    (3) Delivery of support services to providers of customized 
training and other job training directly responsive to employer needs 
and hiring requirements to promote and support the inclusion of 
individuals with disabilities in such training programs; and
    (4) Delivery of support services to employers who hire individuals 
with disabilities from employer-driven training programs.

Technical Assistance and Dissemination Activities

    (a) Provide intensive TA to a minimum of 16 State VR agencies and 
their associated rehabilitation professionals and service providers in 
the four job-driven topic areas set out in this priority. The JDVRTAC 
must provide intensive TA to a minimum of two agencies in the first 
year of the project, a minimum of ten agencies in the second year of 
the project, and a minimum of four agencies in the third year of the 
project. Such TA must include:
    (1) For topic area (a), how to research, understand, and use up-to-
date labor market information to assist individuals with disabilities 
in making informed career decisions and develop vocational goals;
    (2) For topic area (b)--
    (i) How to research, understand, and use up-to-date labor market 
information to effectively communicate with and address the needs of--
    (A) Employers;
    (B) Job seekers with disabilities; and
    (C) Employees with disabilities.
    (ii) How to balance job-seeker skills and informed choice with the 
needs and demands of employers;
    (iii) Informational resources for employers on accommodations, 
including assistive technology;
    (iv) Effective marketing and outreach to employers, such as how 
best to present information about job-ready applicants to employers, 
including what VR counselors and placement staff need to know about a 
specific employer and its business; and
    (v) How to use occupational information resources to ensure optimal 
vocational guidance and counseling that result in the best fit for 
applicants and workers with disabilities and employers.
    (3) For topic area (c), how to build and maintain partnerships with 
employers, looking at new or existing research about the relationship 
between employer practices and employment outcomes among individuals 
with disabilities, and promising practices for employer engagement.
    (4) For topic area (d)--
    (i) How to identify and access employer-driven training programs;
    (ii) How to incorporate individuals with disabilities into training 
programs in which individuals with disabilities have been historically 
underrepresented; and
    (iii) How to assist VR-eligible individuals with disabilities in 
accessing customized training or other job training that is directly 
responsive to employer needs and hiring requirements, including, but 
not limited to, training offered by providers under the Carl D. Perkins 
Career and Technical Education Improvement Act, H-1B Ready to Work 
Partnership Grants, and Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College 
and Career Training Grants.
    (b) Provide a range of targeted and general TA products and 
services on the four job-driven topic areas in this priority. Such TA 
should include, at a minimum, the following activities:
    (1) Developing and maintaining a state-of-the-art information 
technology (IT) platform sufficient to support Webinars, 
teleconferences, video conferences, and other virtual methods of 
dissemination of information and TA;

    Note: All products produced by the JDVRTAC must meet government 
and industry-recognized standards for accessibility.

    (2) Developing and maintaining a state-of-the-art archiving and 
dissemination system that provides a central location for later use of 
TA products, including course curricula, audiovisual materials, 
Webinars, examples of emerging and best practices related to the four 
job-driven topic areas in this notice, and any other TA products, that 
is open and available to the public; and

    Note: In meeting the requirements of (b)(1) and (b)(2) above, 
the JDVRTAC may either develop new platforms or systems, or modify 
existing platforms or systems, so long as the requirements of this 
priority are met.

    (3) Providing a minimum of two Webinars or video conferences on 
each of the four job-driven topic areas in this notice to describe and 
disseminate information about emerging and best practices in each area.

Coordination Activities

    (a) Establish a community of practice that will act as a vehicle 
for communication, exchange of information among State VR agencies and 
partners, and a forum for sharing the results of TA projects that are 
in progress or have been completed. Such community of practice must be 
focused on the use of labor market and

[[Page 48988]]

occupational information for individual planning, employer services and 
communication, and support of employer-driven training services;
    (b) Communicate and coordinate, on an ongoing basis, with other 
Department-funded projects and those supported by the Departments of 
Labor and Commerce; and
    (c) Maintain ongoing communication with the RSA project officer.

Application Requirements

    To be funded under this priority, applicants must meet the 
application and administrative requirements in this priority. RSA 
encourages innovative approaches to meet these requirements, which are:
    (a) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under 
``Significance of the Project,'' how the proposed project will--
    (1) Address State VR agencies' capacity to work with employers and 
providers of training to ensure equal access to and greater 
opportunities for individuals with disabilities to engage in, 
competitive employment or training. To meet this requirement, the 
applicant must:
    (i) Demonstrate knowledge of emerging and best practices in 
employer engagement, including alignment with the needs of business 
related to employment of individuals with disabilities;
    (ii) Demonstrate knowledge of current RSA guidance and State and 
Federal initiatives designed to improve employer engagement and 
alignment of workforce training programs with employer needs; and
    (iii) Present information about the difficulties that State VR 
agencies and service providers have encountered in developing effective 
employer engagement plans.
    (2) Result in increases in both the number of VR-eligible 
individuals with disabilities in employer-driven job-training programs, 
and the number and quality of employment outcomes in competitive, 
integrated settings for VR-eligible individuals with disabilities, 
including broadening the range of occupations for such individuals in 
such settings.
    (b) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under 
``Quality of Project Services,'' how the proposed project will--
    (1) Achieve its goals, objectives, and intended outcomes. To meet 
this requirement, the applicant must provide--
    (i) Measurable intended project outcomes;
    (ii) A plan for how the proposed project will achieve its intended 
outcomes; and
    (iii) A plan for communicating and coordinating with key staff in 
State VR agencies, State and local partner programs, providers of 
customized training programs and other training programs that are 
directly responsive to employer needs and hiring requirements, RSA 
partners such as the Council of State Administrators of Vocational 
Rehabilitation (CSAVR), the National Council of State Agencies for the 
Blind, CSAVR's National Employment Team, and other TA centers and 
relevant programs within the Departments of Education, Labor, and 
Commerce.
    (2) Use a conceptual framework to develop project plans and 
activities, describing any underlying concepts, assumptions, 
expectations, beliefs, or theories, as well as the presumed 
relationships or linkages among these variables, and any empirical 
support for this framework.
    (3) Be based on current research and make use of evidence-based 
practices. To meet this requirement, the applicant must describe--
    (i) The current research on the emerging and promising practices in 
the four job-driven topic areas in this priority;
    (ii) How the current research about adult learning principles and 
implementation science will inform the proposed TA; and
    (iii) How the proposed project will incorporate current research 
and evidence-based practices in the development and delivery of its 
products and services.
    (4) Develop products and provide services that are of high quality 
and sufficient intensity and duration to achieve the intended outcomes 
of the proposed project. To address this requirement, the applicant 
must describe--
    (i) Its proposed activities to identify or develop the knowledge 
base on emerging and promising practices in the four job-driven topic 
areas in this priority;
    (ii) Its proposed approach to universal, general TA; \2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ For the purposes of this priority, ``universal, general TA'' 
means TA and information provided to independent users through their 
own initiative, resulting in minimal interaction with TA center 
staff and including one-time, invited or offered conference 
presentations by TA center staff. This category of TA also includes 
information or products, such as newsletters, guidebooks, or 
research syntheses, downloaded from the TA center's Web site by 
independent users. Brief communications by TA center staff with 
recipients, either by telephone or email, are also considered 
universal, general TA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (iii) Its proposed approach to targeted, specialized TA,\3\ which 
must identify--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ For the purposes of this priority, ``targeted, specialized 
TA'' means TA service based on needs common to multiple recipients 
and not extensively individualized. A relationship is established 
between the TA recipient and one or more TA center staff. This 
category of TA includes one-time, labor-intensive events, such as 
facilitating strategic planning or hosting regional or national 
conferences. It can also include episodic, less labor-intensive 
events that extend over a period of time, such as facilitating a 
series of conference calls on single or multiple topics that are 
designed around the needs of the recipients. Facilitating 
communities of practice can also be considered targeted, specialized 
TA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (A) The intended recipients of the products and services under this 
approach; and
    (B) Its proposed approach to measure the readiness of State VR 
agencies to work with the proposed project, assessing, at a minimum, 
their current infrastructure, available resources, and ability to 
effectively respond to the TA, as appropriate.
    (iv) Its proposed approach to intensive, sustained TA,\4\ which 
must identify--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ For the purposes of this priority, ``intensive, sustained 
TA'' means TA services often provided on-site and requiring a 
stable, ongoing relationship between the TA center staff and the TA 
recipient. ``TA services'' are defined as negotiated series of 
activities designed to reach a valued outcome. This category of TA 
should result in changes to policy, program, practice, or operations 
that support increased recipient capacity or improved outcomes at 
one or more systems levels.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (A) The intended recipients of the products and services under this 
approach;
    (B) Its proposed approach to measure the readiness of the State VR 
agencies to work with the proposed project including the State VR 
agencies' commitment to the initiative, fit of the initiatives, current 
infrastructure, available resources, and ability to respond effectively 
to the TA, as appropriate;
    (C) Its proposed plan for assisting State VR agencies to build 
training systems that include professional development based on adult 
learning principles and coaching; and
    (D) Its proposed plan for developing intensive TA agreements with 
State VR agencies to provide intensive, sustained TA. The plan must 
describe how the intensive TA agreements will outline the purposes of 
the TA, the intended outcomes of the TA, and the measurable objectives 
of the TA that will be evaluated.
    (5) Develop products and implement services to maximize the 
project's efficiency. To address this requirement, the applicant must 
describe--
    (i) How the proposed project will use technology to achieve the 
intended project outcomes; and

[[Page 48989]]

    (ii) With whom the proposed project will collaborate and the 
intended outcomes of this collaboration.
    (c) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under 
``Quality of the Evaluation Plan,'' how the proposed project will--
    (1) Measure and track the effectiveness of the TA provided. To meet 
this requirement, the applicant must describe its proposed approach 
to--
    (i) Collecting data on the effectiveness of each TA activity from 
State VR agencies, partners, or other sources, as appropriate; and
    (ii) Analyzing data and determining the effectiveness of each TA 
activity, including any proposed standards or targets for determining 
effectiveness.
    (2) Collect and analyze data on specific and measurable goals, 
objectives, and intended outcomes of the project, including measuring 
and tracking the effectiveness of the TA provided. To address this 
requirement, the applicant must describe--
    (i) Its proposed evaluation methodologies, including instruments, 
data collection methods, and analyses;
    (ii) Its proposed standards or targets for determining 
effectiveness;
    (iii) How it will use the evaluation results to examine the 
effectiveness of its implementation and its progress toward achieving 
the intended outcomes; and
    (iv) How the methods of evaluation will produce quantitative and 
qualitative data that demonstrate whether the project and individual TA 
activities achieved their intended outcomes.
    (d) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under 
``Adequacy of Project Resources,'' how--
    (1) The proposed project will encourage applications for employment 
from persons who are members of groups that have traditionally been 
underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or 
disability, as appropriate;
    (2) The proposed key project personnel, consultants, and 
subcontractors have the qualifications and experience to provide TA to 
State VR agencies and their partners in each of the four job-driven 
topic areas in this priority and to achieve the project's intended 
outcomes;
    (3) The applicant and any key partners have adequate resources to 
carry out the proposed activities; and
    (4) The proposed costs are reasonable in relation to the 
anticipated results and benefits.
    (e) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under 
``Quality of the Management Plan,'' how--
    (1) The proposed management plan will ensure that the project's 
intended outcomes will be achieved on time and within budget. To 
address this requirement, the applicant must describe--
    (i) Clearly defined responsibilities for key project personnel, 
consultants, and subcontractors, as applicable; and
    (ii) Timelines and milestones for accomplishing the project tasks.
    (2) Key project personnel and any consultants and subcontractors 
will be allocated to the project and how these allocations are 
appropriate and adequate to achieve the project's intended outcomes, 
including an assurance that such personnel will have adequate 
availability to ensure timely communications with stakeholders and RSA;
    (3) The proposed management plan will ensure that the products and 
services provided are of high quality; and
    (4) The proposed project will benefit from a diversity of 
perspectives, including those of State and local personnel, TA 
providers, researchers, and policy makers, among others, in its 
development and operation.

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.

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 final 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 upon 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,

[[Page 48990]]

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 does 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. 
The benefits of the Rehabilitation Training program have been well 
established over the years through the successful completion of similar 
projects, particularly those grants that provided TA to State VR 
agencies. Specifically, this priority would establish a JDVRTAC that 
would assist State VR agencies to develop employment opportunities that 
would be responsive to employer-driven needs for employees who have the 
skills to work in today's labor market. This priority is directly 
responsive to the Presidential Memorandum to Federal agencies directing 
them to take action to address job-driven training for the Nation's 
workers.
    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.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document 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 
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    Dated: August 13, 2014.
Michael K. Yudin,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services.
[FR Doc. 2014-19588 Filed 8-18-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P