Volunteers in Service to America, 63454-63472 [2015-25790]

Download as PDF 63454 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations EPA-APPROVED MICHIGAN NONREGULATORY AND QUASI-REGULATORY PROVISIONS Name of nonregulatory SIP provision Applicable geographic or nonattainment area State submittal date EPA approval date Comments * Section 110(a)(2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2006 24-Hour PM2.5 NAAQS. * Statewide .......... * * * 8/15/2011, 7/9/2012, 10/20/2015, [Insert Fed7/10/2014 ...................... eral Register citation]. * * This action addresses the following CAA elements: 110(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D)(i)(II), (D)(ii), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M). We are not taking action on the visibility protection requirements of (D)(i)(II). We will address this requirements in a separate action. * Section 110(a)(2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2008 lead (Pb) NAAQS. * Statewide .......... * * * 4/3/2012, 8/9/2013, 10/20/2015, [insert Fed7/10/2014 ...................... eral Register citation]. * * This action addresses the following CAA elements: 110(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M). [FR Doc. 2015–26312 Filed 10–19–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE 45 CFR Parts 1206, 1210, 1211, 1216, 1217, 1218, 1220, 1222, 1226, and 2556 RIN 3045–AA36 Volunteers in Service to America Corporation for National and Community Service. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) publishes new regulations under the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as amended, and the National and Community Service Act of 1990, as amended, for the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program, including certain changes to update existing regulations. SUMMARY: DATES: This rule is effective January 19, 2016. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Calvin Dawson, AmeriCorps VISTA, at the Corporation for National and Community Service, 1201 New York Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20525, phone 202–606–6897. The TDD/TTY number is 800–833–3722. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 created the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program. The VISTA program, sometimes referred to as the domestic Peace Corps, has operated since the first VISTA volunteers (VISTAs or VISTA members) VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 were placed in service in December 1964. In 1971, the VISTA program was transferred from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the former Federal agency, ACTION (the Federal Domestic Volunteer Agency). In 1973, Congress enacted the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (DVSA), the VISTA program’s enabling legislation. The VISTA program continues to retain its purpose, as stated in the DVSA, ‘‘to strengthen and supplement efforts to eliminate and alleviate poverty and poverty-related problems in the United States by encouraging and enabling individuals from all walks of life, all geographical areas, and all age groups, including low-income individuals, elderly and retired Americans, to perform meaningful and constructive volunteer service in agencies, institutions, and situations where the application of human talent and dedication may assist in the solution of poverty and poverty-related problems and secure and exploit opportunities for self-advancement by individuals afflicted with such problems.’’ In 1994, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) was established pursuant to the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993; at this time, the operations of all service programs previously administered by ACTION, including the VISTA program, began to be administered by CNCS. The VISTA program also became known as the AmeriCorps VISTA program, one of three AmeriCorps programs now administered by CNCS. The other two programs were, and continue to be: (1) The AmeriCorps State and National program; and (2) the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). Since 1994, the VISTA program PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 continues to be primarily operated and administered under the DVSA. The other two AmeriCorps programs are operated under the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA). In 2009, Congress enacted the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009 (Serve America Act), which contained certain amendments to both the DVSA and the NCSA. With regard to the VISTA program, the Serve America Act amendments largely related to the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, a type of end-of-service award for which a VISTA member may be eligible upon successful completion of a term of VISTA service. II. Scope of Final Rule This rule covers core aspects of the VISTA program: (a) Entities that are sponsors for VISTA projects; and (b) individuals who are applicants, candidates, and VISTAs (including VISTA leaders and VISTA summer associates), serving at project sites. This rule has four purposes. First, it conforms the existing regulations to the fact that CNCS administers the VISTA program. References in the existing regulations to the former Federal agency, ACTION, and the administrative structure of ACTION are changed to reflect CNCS and its administrative structure. Second, this rule codifies the VISTA rules in the same location as the rules for CNCS’s other programs. The existing VISTA regulations are codified at 45 CFR parts 1206, 1210, 1211, 1216–1220, 1222, and 1226. This rule places the VISTA regulations within the regulations for CNCS and the other CNCS programs at 45 CFR parts 2505– 2556. On a related note, existing program regulations at 45 CFR parts 1206, 1216, E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations 1220, and 1226, currently apply both to the VISTA program, and to CNCS’s National Senior Service Corps programs. This rule places existing program regulations, as they apply to the VISTA program, at 45 CFR parts 2505–2556. Existing program regulations as they apply to the National Senior Service Corps programs will remain, at this time, at 45 CFR parts 1206, 1216, 1220, and 1226. To accommodate the relocation of the existing program regulations as applied to the VISTA program, certain technical changes to the existing program regulations, as applied to the National Senior Service Corps programs, are warranted. These technical changes are not substantive, but are necessary to address the removal of references to the VISTA program and to reflect CNCS and its current administrative structure. Third, this rule addresses regulations on the VISTA program’s elements. The existing regulations cover a limited range of topics. This rule covers a wide range of topics, and updates the topics covered under existing regulations, including: VISTA application and termination processes, volunteer grievance procedures, competitive service eligibility, payment of volunteer legal expenses, nondisplacement of workers, VISTA leaders and summer associates, restrictions for VISTAs on certain political activities under the Hatch Act and other federal laws, and participation of program beneficiaries. Subpart A gives general program information: Purpose, basic program design, definitions used in the rule, and waiver. Subpart B sets out requirements for a VISTA sponsor, and for a sponsor to support a VISTA. Subpart C pertains to being a VISTA, and the requirements for applying to become a VISTA. Subpart D provides the service terms, protections, and benefits that apply to a VISTA. Subpart E addresses termination for cause procedures. Subparts F and G, concern, respectively, VISTA projects with summer associates, and VISTA projects with VISTA leaders. Subpart H gives restrictions and prohibitions on certain political activities for all VISTAs, sponsors, and project sites. Fourth, this rule updates the provisions of the existing regulations. These changes are described here: As it applies to the VISTA program, 45 CFR part 1206, which deals with project suspension and termination, is moved to 45 CFR part 2556, subpart B with most substantive provisions remaining unchanged. Under this final rule, the provisions for suspension remain unchanged, except that the provisions for summary suspension are eliminated and the provisions for VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 suspension on notice are retained. This has the effect of giving notice to sponsors for all suspensions. Under the final rule the provisions for termination remain unchanged, except that a second CNCS review has been eliminated. Experience has shown that a lengthy termination review process is not beneficial to VISTAs at the project in question, unduly consumes the sponsor’s staff time and other resources, creates uncertainty for project beneficiaries, and exhausts VISTA resources that could be put to use for the benefit of project beneficiaries. The regulations at 45 CFR part 1210, which deal chiefly with early termination of a VISTA, are moved to 45 CFR part 2556, subpart E and changed to improve the cost-effectiveness of the provisions and increase efficiency of VISTA program functions. The new provisions for early termination remain substantively the same in many respects. However, the early termination for cause process is modified. While the process retains more than sufficient due process in the form of written notification and appeals at two levels, the inclusion of a hearing examiner in that process is removed. Experience has shown that a multi-layered termination process is protracted, unduly burdensome, and incompatible with a service term that can last no more than a year’s time. Such a process creates potential harm to the operations of the project and its beneficiaries where the VISTA had been assigned, prolongs uncertainty for the VISTA subject to the process, and inordinately consumes VISTA program resources that could be put to use for the benefit of project beneficiaries. Regulations in 45 CFR part 1211 on grievance procedures for VISTAs are moved to 45 CFR 2556.345–2556.365 and updated to reflect the use of electronic communication technology and the speed at which it can operate. At §§ 2556.345 through 2556.365, the rule clarifies when a VISTA may present a grievance, what matters are considered grievances, and specific steps for bringing a grievance and appealing a response, while eliminating the inclusion of a grievance examiner in the process. Longstanding experience has shown that CNCS has used its administrative review and oversight to afford complaining parties more than sufficient due process, and has effectively remedied inappropriate conditions leading to grievances, without need of grievance examiner services. When grievance examiner services have been invoked, the time, resources and expense incurred by the VISTA program have substantially PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63455 outweighed the value provided to the parties involved. Regulations at 45 CFR part 1216 on non-displacement of employed workers and non-impairment of contracts for service are moved to 45 CFR 2556.150(b) through (e), and the substantive provisions remain unchanged. Regulations at 45 CFR part 1217 on leaders are moved to 45 CFR part 2556, subpart G, and clarify primary aspects of the leader position in a project. Regulations at 45 CFR part 1219 on non-competitive eligibility for VISTAs are moved to 45 CFR 2556.340, and their substantive provisions remain unchanged. Regulations at 45 CFR part 1220 on payment of legal expenses resulting from service activities are moved to 45 CFR 2556.325 through 2556.335, and their substantive provisions remain unchanged. Regulations at 45 CFR part 1222 on participation of project beneficiaries are moved to 45 CFR 2556.120, and their substantive provisions remain unchanged. Regulations at 45 CFR part 1226 on prohibitions and restrictions on certain political activities are moved to 45 CFR part 2556, subpart H and are revised to complement the current limitations and permitted political activities under the Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. chapter 73, subchapter III. As provided in the DVSA, VISTAs are subject to the requirements of the Hatch Act because they are considered federal employees for purposes of the Hatch Act, 42 U.S.C. 5055(b)(1). III. Comments and Responses On Tuesday, May 5, 2015, CNCS published a notice of proposed rulemaking. 80 FR 25637. We received fewer than 25 comments on the rule, all of which are addressed below. We received comments from individuals currently serving as VISTAs, current and former VISTA leaders, staff of VISTA sponsors, a state non-profit association and State Commissions on National and Community Service. We appreciate the thoughtful input provided by these individuals and organizations. Comment: We received comments about our proposal to expand the eligibility to be a VISTA leader to include those who have had prior Peace Corps experience, or have had prior national service experience in AmeriCorps, regardless of whether the prior experience was through the AmeriCorps VISTA program or another AmeriCorps program. E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES 63456 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations Response: We appreciate the support commenters expressed for the expansion of eligibility criteria to be a VISTA leader. While two commenters thought that the expansion did not adequately recognize the value of the VISTA experience, the majority of commenters articulated support for the expansion that mirrored our reasons for proposing it: Better recruitment opportunities for programs; a wider pool of excellent prospective candidates; and recognition and leveraging of the leadership skills earned through other national service programs. Moreover, in our view, expanding the scope of individuals who may be eligible does not in any way diminish the value placed on the VISTA experience in particular. Comment: We received several comments on VISTA health care coverage and requests to change the health care coverage options offered to VISTAs serving in the program. Response: The health care options available to AmeriCorps VISTA members are outlined at http:// www.vistacampus.gov/resources/vistahealthcare-options. The proposed rule did not propose any changes to VISTA health care coverage and doing so is beyond the scope of this rulemaking. Comment: We received two comments regarding the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award (Education Award) that suggested changes to the statutory requirements placed on VISTAs regarding their use of the Education Award, namely transferability and use of the Education Award at VA-eligible institutions. Response: We appreciate the commenters identifying how the Education Award would be more useful to VISTAs. In accordance with current legislation, individuals who successfully serve in the AmeriCorps State and National program may transfer their Education Awards to certain third party individuals as long as those individuals meet certain statutory conditions. However, VISTAs who receive Education Awards are unable to transfer them to anyone else. Until the legislation changes, we are bound by the statutory requirements on the use of the Education Award by VISTAs. Similarly, until the legislation changes, we are restricted from expanding the use of the Education Award by non-veterans to study at VA-eligible educational institutions. Accordingly, we have made only technical edits to the proposed rule for clarity in the use of the terms ‘‘sponsor,’’ ‘‘project,’’ and ‘‘subrecipient.’’ Additionally, we VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 clarified the applicability of sections 2556.125 and 2556.130. IV. Effective Date This rule is effective January 19, 2016. V. Regulatory Procedures Executive Order 12866 CNCS has determined that the rule is not an ‘‘economically significant’’ rule within the meaning of E.O. 12866 because it is not likely to result in: (1) An annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or an adverse and material effect on a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal government or communities; (2) the creation of a serious inconsistency or interference with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) a material alteration in the budgetary impacts of entitlement, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) the raising of novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President’s priorities, or the principles set forth in E.O. 12866. Regulatory Flexibility Act As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 605 (b)), CNCS certifies that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This regulatory action will not result in (1) an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; (2) a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions; or (3) significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of United States-based enterprises to compete with foreignbased enterprises in domestic and export markets. Therefore, CNCS has not performed the initial regulatory flexibility analysis that is required under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) for major rules that are expected to have such results. Unfunded Mandates For purposes of Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1531–1538, as well as Executive Order 12875, this regulatory action does not contain any Federal mandate that may result in increased expenditures in either Federal, State, local, or tribal governments in the aggregate, or impose an annual burden exceeding $100 million on the private sector. PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Paperwork Reduction Act This rule addresses the requirement that entities that wish to apply to be VISTA sponsors complete an application to be a VISTA sponsor that manages at least one VISTA project. Consistent with this requirement is a document: The VISTA program’s Project Application (http:// www.nationalservice.gov/programs/ americorps/americorps-vista/sponsorvista-project). Additionally this rule addresses the requirement that individuals who wish to apply to serve as VISTAs in the federal VISTA program complete an application to serve as a VISTA. This document is called an AmeriCorps Member Application and can be found online at http:// www.nationalservice.gov/programs/ americorps/americorps-vista. These requirements constitute two sets of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 507 et seq. OMB, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, has previously approved these information collections for use. The OMB Control Number for the two collections of the Project Application and AmeriCorps Application are 3045–0038 and 3045– 0054, respectively. Under the PRA, an agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless the collections of information displays valid control numbers. This rule’s collections of information are contained in 45 CFR 2556.120 and 2556.205 for the Project Application and AmeriCorps Application, respectively. This information is necessary to ensure that only eligible and qualified entities serve as VISTA sponsors. This information is also necessary to ensure that only eligible and suitable individuals are approved by the VISTA program to serve as VISTAs in the VISTA program. The likely respondents to these collections of information are entities interested in or seeking to become VISTA sponsors, current VISTA sponsors, and current and prospective VISTAs. Executive Order 13132, Federalism Executive Order 13132, Federalism, prohibits an agency from publishing any rule that has Federalism implications if the rule imposes substantial direct compliance costs on State and local governments and is not required by statute, or the rule preempts State law, unless the agency meets the consultation and funding requirements of section 6 of the Executive Order. The rule does not have any Federalism implications, as described above. E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations List of Subjects 45 CFR Parts 1206, 1210, 1211, 1216 Through 1218, 1220, and 1222 Volunteers. 45 CFR Part 1226 Elections, Lobbying, Volunteers. 45 CFR Part 2556 VISTA program, Volunteers. For the reasons discussed in the preamble, under the authority of 42 U.S.C. 12651c(c), the Corporation for National and Community Service amends chapters XII and XXV, title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows: PART 1206—GRANTS AND CONTRACTS—SUSPENSION AND TERMINATION AND DENIAL OF APPLICATION FOR REFUNDING 1. The authority citation for part 1206 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 42 U.S.C. 5052. 2. In § 1206.1–1, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows: ■ § 1206.1–1 Purpose and scope. (a) This subpart establishes rules and review procedures for the suspension and termination of assistance of National Senior Service Corps grants of assistance provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service pursuant to sections of title II of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, Public Law 93–113, 87 Stat. 413 (hereinafter the DVSA) because a recipient failed to materially comply with the terms and conditions of any grant or contract providing assistance under these sections of the DVSA, including applicable laws, regulations, issued program guidelines, instructions, grant conditions or approved work programs. * * * * * ■ 3. Revise § 1206.1–2 to read as follows: § 1206.1–2 Application of this part. This subpart applies to programs authorized under title II of the DVSA. ■ 4. In § 1206.1–3, revise paragraphs (c) through (f) to read as follows: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 1206.1–3 Definitions. * * * * * (c) The term responsible Corporation official means the CEO, Chief Financial Officer, the Director of the National Senior Service Corps programs, the appropriate Service Center Director and any Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 Headquarters or State office official who is authorized to make the grant or assistance in question. In addition to the foregoing officials, in the case of the suspension proceedings described in § 1206.1–4, the term ‘‘responsible Corporation official’’ shall also include a designee of a CNCS official who is authorized to make the grant of assistance in question. (d) The term assistance means assistance under title II of the DVSA in the form of grants or contracts involving Federal funds for the administration for which the Director of the National Senior Service Corps programs has responsibility. (e) The term recipient means a public or private agency, institution or organization or a State or other political jurisdiction which has received assistance under title II of the DVSA. The term ‘‘recipient’’ does not include individuals who ultimately receive benefits under any DVSA program of assistance or National Senior Service Corps volunteers participating in any program. (f) The term agency means a public or private agency, institution, or organization or a State or other political jurisdiction with which the recipient has entered into an arrangement, contract or agreement to assist in its carrying out the development, conduct and administration of part of a project or program assisted under title II of the DVSA. * * * * * ■ 5. Revise § 1206.2–1 to read as follows: § 1206.2–1 Applicability of this subpart. This subpart applies to grantees and contractors receiving financial assistance under title II of the DVSA. The procedures in the subpart do not apply to review of applications for sponsors who receive VISTA members under the DVSA. ■ 6. Revise § 1206.2–3 to read as follows: § 1206.2–3 Definitions. As used in this subpart, ‘‘Corporation’’, ‘‘CEO’’, and ‘‘recipient’’ are defined in accordance with § 1206.1–3. Financial assistance and assistance include the services of National Senior Service Corps volunteers supported in whole or in part with CNCS funds under the DVSA. Program account includes assistance provided by CNCS to support a particular program activity; for example, Foster Grandparent Program, Senior Companion Program and Retired Senior Volunteer Program. PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63457 Refunding includes renewal of an application for the assignment of National Senior Service Corps volunteers. ■ 7. In § 1206.2–4, revise paragraph (g) to read as follows: § 1206.2–4 Procedures. * * * * * (g) If the recipient’s budget period expires prior to the final decision by the deciding official, the recipient’s authority to continue program operations shall be extended until such decision is made and communicated to the recipient. If a National Senior Service Corps volunteer’s term of service expires after receipt by a sponsor of a tentative decision not to refund a project, the period of service of the volunteer may be similarly extended. No volunteers may be reenrolled for a period of service while a tentative decision not to refund is pending. If program operations are so extended, CNCS and the recipient shall provide, subject to the availability of funds, operating funds at the same levels as in the previous budget period to continue program operations. PART 1210—[REMOVED AND RESERVED] ■ 8. Remove and reserve part 1210. PART 1211—[REMOVED AND RESERVED] ■ 9. Remove and reserve part 1211. PART 1216—NONDISPLACEMENT OF EMPLOYED WORKERS AND NONIMPAIRMENT OF CONTRACTS FOR SERVICE 10. The authority citation for part 1216 is revised to read as follows: ■ Authority: 42 U.S.C. 5044(a). 11. Revise § 1216.1–1 to read as follows: ■ § 1216.1–1 Purpose. This part establishes rules to assure that the services of volunteers in the Foster Grandparent Program, the Senior Companion Program, and The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), are limited to activities which would not otherwise be performed by employed workers and which will not supplant the hiring of, or result in the displacement of employed workers or impair existing contracts for service. This part implements section 404(a) of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, Public Law 93–113 (the ‘‘Act’’). ■ 12. In § 1216.1–2, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows: E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 63458 § 1216.1–2 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations Applicability of this part. (a) All volunteers in either the Foster Grandparent Program, the Senior Companion Program, or The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), who are assigned, referred or serving pursuant to grants, contracts, or agreements made pursuant to the Act. * * * * * PART 1217—[REMOVED AND RESERVED] ■ 13. Remove and reserve part 1217. PART 1218—[REMOVED AND RESERVED] ■ § 1220.2–2 14. Remove and reserve part 1218. PART 1219—[REMOVED AND RESERVED] ■ 15. Remove and reserve part 1219. PART 1220—PAYMENT OF VOLUNTEER LEGAL EXPENSES 16. The authority citation for part 1220 is revised to read as follows: ■ Authority: 42 U.S.C. 5059. 17. Revise § 1220.1–1 to read as follows: ■ § 1220.1–1 Purpose. This part implements section 419 of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, Public Law 93–113 (the ‘‘Act’’). This part provides rules to ensure that the Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the three federal programs, the Foster Grandparent Program (FGP), the Senior Companion Program (SCP), and The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), pays the expenses incurred in judicial and administrative proceedings for the defense of those volunteers serving in those programs. Payment of such expenses by CNCS for those volunteers include payment of counsel fees, court costs, bail or other expenses incidental to the volunteer’s defense. ■ 18. In § 1220.2–1, revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (c) to read as follows: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 1220.2–1 Full-time volunteers. (a)(1) The Corporation for National and Community Service will pay all reasonable expenses for defense of fulltime volunteers up to and including the arraignment of Federal, state, and local criminal proceedings, except in cases where it is clear that the charged offense results from conduct which is not related to his service as a volunteer. * * * * * (c) Notwithstanding the foregoing, there may be situations in which the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 criminal proceeding results from a situation which could give rise to a civil claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act. In such situations, the Justice Department may agree to defend the volunteer. In those cases, unless there is a conflict between the volunteer’s interest and that of the government, the Corporation for National and Community Service will not pay for additional private representation for the volunteer. ■ 19. In § 1220.2–2, revise paragraph (a) introductory text, (a)(2), and (b) to read as follows: Part-time volunteers. (a) With respect to a part-time volunteer, the Corporation for National and Community Service will reimburse a sponsor for the reasonable expense it incurs for the defense of the volunteer in Federal, state and local criminal proceedings, including arraignment, only under the following circumstances: * * * * * (2) The volunteer receives, or is eligible to receive, compensation, including allowances, stipend, or reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, under a Corporation for National and Community Service grant project; and * * * * * (b) In certain circumstances volunteers who are ineligible for reimbursement of legal expenses by the Corporation for National and Community Service may be eligible for representation under the Criminal Justice Act (18 U.S.C. 3006A). ■ 20. In § 1220.2–3, revise paragraphs (a), (b), and (d) to read as follows: § 1220.2–3 Procedure. (a) Immediately upon the arrest of any volunteer under circumstances in which the payment or bail to prevent incarceration or other serious consequences to the volunteer or the retention of an attorney prior to arraignment is necessary and is covered under § 1220.2–1 or § 1220.2–2, sponsors shall immediately notify the appropriate Corporation for National and Community Service state office or if the state office cannot be reached, the appropriate Area Manager. (b) Immediately after notification of the appropriate state office, and with the approval thereof, the sponsor shall advance up to $500 for the payment of bail or such other legal expenses as are necessary prior to arraignment to prevent the volunteer from being incarcerated. In the event it is subsequently determined that the Corporation for National and PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Community Service or a sponsor is not responsible under this policy for the volunteer’s defense, any such advance may be recovered directly from the volunteer or from allowances, stipends, or out-of-pocket expenses which are payable or become payable to the volunteer. In the case of a grassroots sponsor of full-time volunteers that is not able to provide the $500, the Corporation for National and Community Service state office or Area Manager shall immediately make such sum available to the sponsor. * * * * * (d) The General Counsel shall, upon notification by the state office or Area Manager, determine the extent to which the Corporation for National and Community Service will provide funds for the volunteer’s defense or reimburse a sponsor for funds it spends on the volunteer’s behalf. Included in this responsibility shall be the negotiation of fees and approval of other costs and expenses. State offices and Area Managers are not authorized to commit the Corporation for National and Community Service to the payment of volunteers’ legal expenses or to reimburse a sponsor except as provided in this section, without the express consent of the General Counsel. Additionally, the General Counsel shall, in cases arising directly out of the performance of authorized project activities, ascertain whether the services of the United States Attorney can be made available to the volunteer. * * * * * 21. In § 1220.3–1, revise the introductory text and paragraph (a) to read as follows: ■ § 1220.3–1 Full-time volunteers. The Corporation for National and Community Service will pay reasonable expenses incurred in the defense of fulltime volunteers in Federal, state, and local civil judicial and administrative proceedings where: (a) The complaint or charge against the volunteer is directly related to his volunteer service and not to his personal activities or obligations. * * * * * ■ 22. Revise § 1220.3–2 as follows: § 1220.3–2 Part-time volunteers. The Corporation for National and Community Service will reimburse sponsors for the reasonable expenses incidental to the defense of part-time volunteers in Federal, state, and local civil judicial and administrative proceedings where: E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations (a) The proceeding arises directly out of the volunteer’s performance of activities pursuant to the Act; (b) The volunteer receives or is eligible to receive compensation, including allowances, stipend, or reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses under the Corporation for National and Community Service grant; and (c) The conditions specified in § 1220.3–1(b) and (c) are met. ■ 23. Revise § 1220.3–3 as follows: § 1220.3–3 Procedure. Immediately upon the receipt by a volunteer of any court papers or administrative orders making a party to any proceeding covered under § 1220.3– 1 or § 1220.3–2, the volunteer shall immediately notify his sponsor who in turn shall notify the appropriate Corporation for National and Community Service state office. The procedures referred to in § 1220.2–3(c) through (e) shall thereafter be followed as appropriate. PART 1222—[REMOVED AND RESERVED] ■ 24. Remove and reserve part 1222. 25. The authority citation for part 1226 is revised to read as follows: ■ Authority: 42 U.S.C. 5043. 26. Revise § 1226.1 to read as follows: § 1226.1 Purpose. This part implements sections 403(a) and (b) of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, Public Law 93–113, as amended, hereinafter referred to as the Act, pertaining to the prohibited use of Federal funds or involvement by certain Corporation for National and Community Service programs and volunteers in electoral and lobbying activities. This part implements those provisions of the Act, as they apply to agency programs and volunteers authorized under title II of the Act. ■ 27. Revise § 1226.2 to read as follows: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 1226.2 Scope. This part applies to all volunteers serving in a program authorized by title II of the Act, including the Foster Grandparent Program, the Senior Companion Program, and The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). This part also applies to employees or sponsoring organizations, whose salaries, or other compensation, are VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 § 1226.7 Scope. The provisions in this subpart are applicable to full time volunteers as described in § 1226.3(c), and to such part-time volunteers as may be otherwise specified herein. Full time volunteers are deemed to be acting in their capacity as volunteers: (a) When they are actually engaged in their volunteer assignments; or * * * * * §§ 1226.10 and 1226.11 ■ [Removed] 29. Remove §§ 1226.10 and 1226.11. §§ 1226.12 and 1226.13 [Redesignated as §§ 1226.10 and 1226.11] 30. Redesignate §§ 1226.12 and 1226.13 as §§ 1226.10 and 1226.11, respectively, and assign them to subpart D. ■ 31. Revise newly redesignated § 1226.10 to read as follows: ■ § 1226.10 PART 1226—PROHIBITIONS ON ELECTORAL AND LOBBYING ACTIVITIES ■ paid, in whole or in part, with agency funds. ■ 28. In § 1226.7, revise the introductory text and paragraph (a) to read as follows: Sponsor employees. Sponsor employees whose salaries or other compensation are paid, in whole or in part, with agency funds are subject to the restrictions described in § 1226.8 and the exceptions in § 1226.9: (a) Whenever they are engaged in an activity which is supported by Corporation for National and Community Service funds; or (b) Whenever they identify themselves as acting in their capacity as an official of a project which receives Corporation for National and Community Service funds, or could reasonably be perceived by others as acting in such capacity. ■ 32. Add part 2556 to read as follows: PART 2556—VOLUNTEERS IN SERVICE TO AMERICA Subpart A—General Information Sec. 2556.1 What is the purpose of the VISTA program? 2556.3 Who should read this part? 2556.5 What definitions apply in this part? 2556.7 Are waivers of the regulations in this part allowed? Subpart B—VISTA Sponsors 2556.100 Which entities are eligible to apply to become VISTA sponsors? 2556.105 Which entities are prohibited from being VISTA sponsors? 2556.110 What VISTA assistance is available to a sponsor? 2556.115 Is a VISTA sponsor required to provide a cash or in-kind match? PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63459 2556.120 How does a VISTA sponsor ensure the participation of people in the communities to be served? 2556.125 May CNCS deny or reduce VISTA assistance to an existing VISTA project? 2556.130 What is the procedure for denial or reduction of VISTA assistance to an existing VISTA project? 2556.135 What is suspension and when may CNCS suspend a VISTA project? 2556.140 What is termination and when may CNCS terminate a VISTA project? 2556.145 May CNCS pursue other remedies against a VISTA project for a sponsor’s material failure to comply with any other requirement not set forth in this subpart? 2556.150 What activities are VISTA members not permitted to perform as part of service? 2556.155 May a sponsor manage a project through a subrecipient? 2556.160 What are the sponsor’s requirements for cost share projects? 2556.165 What Fair Labor Standards apply to VISTA sponsors and subrecipients? 2556.170 What nondiscrimination requirements apply to sponsors and subrecipients? 2556.175 What limitations are VISTA sponsors subject to regarding religious activities? Subpart C—VISTA Members 2556.200 Who may apply to serve as a VISTA? 2556.205 What commitments and agreements must an individual make to serve in the VISTA program? 2556.210 Who reviews and approves an application for VISTA service? Subpart D—Terms, Protections, and Benefits of VISTA Members 2556.300 Is a VISTA considered a Federal employee and is a VISTA considered an employee of the sponsor? 2556.305 What is the duration and scope of service for a VISTA? 2556.310 What are the lines of supervision or oversight of a VISTA, a VISTA sponsor, and CNCS during a VISTA’s term of service? 2556.315 What are terms and conditions for official travel for a VISTA? 2556.320 What benefits may a VISTA receive during VISTA service? 2556.325 May a VISTA be provided coverage for legal defense expenses related to VISTA service? 2556.330 When may a VISTA be provided coverage for legal defense expenses related to criminal proceedings? 2556.335 When may a VISTA be provided coverage for legal defense expenses related to civil or administrative proceedings? 2556. 340 What is non-competitive eligibility and who is eligible for it? 2556.345 Who may present a grievance? 2556.350 What matters are considered grievances? 2556.355 May a VISTA have access to records as part of the VISTA grievance procedure? 2556.360 How may a VISTA bring a grievance? E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 63460 2556.365 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations May a VISTA appeal a grievance? Subpart E—Termination for Cause Procedures 2556.400 What is termination for cause and what are the criteria for termination for cause? 2556.405 Who has sole authority to remove a VISTA from a VISTA project and who has sole authority to terminate a VISTA from a VISTA project or the VISTA program? 2556.410 May a sponsor request that a VISTA be removed from its project? 2556.415 May CNCS remove a VISTA from a project without the sponsor’s request for removal? 2556.420 What are termination for cause proceedings? 2556.425 May a VISTA appeal his or her termination for cause? 2556.430 Is a VISTA who is terminated early from the VISTA program for other than cause entitled to appeal under these procedures? Subpart F—Summer Associates 2556.500 How is a position for a summer associate established in a project? 2556.505 How do summer associates differ from other VISTAs? mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Subpart G—VISTA Leaders 2556.600 How is a position for a leader established in a project, or in multiple projects within a contiguous geographic region? 2556.605 Who is eligible to apply to serve as a leader? 2556.610 What is the application process to apply to become a leader? 2556.615 Who reviews a leader application and who approves or disapproves a leader application? 2556.620 How does a leader differ from other VISTAs? 2556.625 What are terms and conditions of service for a leader? Subpart H—Restrictions and Prohibitions on Political Activities and Lobbying 2556.700 Who is covered by this subpart? 2556.705 What is prohibited political activity? 2556.710 What political activities are VISTAs prohibited from engaging in? 2556.715 What political activities may a VISTA participate in? 2556.720 May VISTAs participate in political organizations? 2556.725 May VISTAs participate in political campaigns? 2556.730 May VISTAs participate in elections? 2556.735 May a VISTA be a candidate for public office? 2556.740 May VISTAs participate in political fundraising activities? 2556.745 Are VISTAs prohibited from soliciting or discouraging the political participation of certain individuals? 2556.750 What restrictions and prohibitions are VISTAs subject to who campaign for a spouse or family member? 2556.755 May VISTAs participate in lawful demonstrations? VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 2556.760 May a sponsor or subrecipient approve the participation of a VISTA in a demonstration or other political meeting? 2556.765 What disciplinary actions are VISTAs subject to for violating restrictions or prohibitions on political activities? 2556.770 What are the requirements of VISTA sponsors or subrecipients regarding political activities? 2556.775 What prohibitions and restrictions on political activity apply to employees of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients? 2556.780 What prohibitions on lobbying activities apply to VISTA sponsors and subrecipients? Subpart A—General Information Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4951–4953; 5 CFR part 734. § 2556.1 What is the purpose of the VISTA program? (a) The purpose of the VISTA program is to strengthen and supplement efforts to eliminate and alleviate poverty and poverty-related problems throughout the United States and certain U.S. territories. To effect this purpose, the VISTA program encourages and enables individuals from all walks of life to join VISTA to perform, on a full-time basis, meaningful and constructive service to assist in the solution of poverty and poverty-related problems and secure opportunities for self-advancement of persons afflicted by such problems. (b) The VISTA program objectives are to: (1) Generate private sector resources; (2) Encourage volunteer service at the local level; (3) Support efforts by local agencies and community organizations to achieve long-term sustainability of projects; and (4) Strengthen local agencies and community organizations to carry out the purpose of the VISTA program. § 2556.3 Who should read this part? This part may be of interest to: (a) Private nonprofit organizations, public nonprofit organizations, state government agencies, local government agencies, federal agencies, and tribal government agencies who are participating in the VISTA program as sponsors, or who are interested in participating in the VISTA program as sponsors. (b) Individuals 18 and older who are serving as a VISTA, or who are interested in serving as a VISTA. § 2556.5 part? What definitions apply in this Act or DVSA means the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as amended, Public Law 93–113 (42 U.S.C. 4951 et seq.). PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Alternative oath or affirmation means a pledge of VISTA service taken by an individual who legally resides within a State, but who is not a citizen or national of the United States, upon that individual’s enrollment into the VISTA program as a VISTA. Applicant for VISTA service means an individual who is in the process of completing, or has completed, an application for VISTA service as prescribed by CNCS, but who has been not been approved by CNCS to be a candidate. Application for VISTA service means the materials prescribed by CNCS to ascertain information on an individual’s eligibility and suitability for VISTA service. Area Manager means a CNCS official who is head of a designated, regional set, or cluster of CNCS State Offices, or equivalent CNCS official. Assistance means VISTAs, leaders, or summer associates. ‘‘Assistance’’ also means technical assistance or training of VISTAs, leaders, summer associates, candidates, sponsors, or supervisors that are provided from funds appropriated by Congress for the purpose of supporting activities under the DVSA. ‘‘Assistance’’ also means grant funds. Candidate, when used in the context of an individual who has applied for VISTA service, means an individual whose application for VISTA service has been approved by CNCS, but who has not taken an oath, alternative oath or affirmation to serve in the VISTA program. Candidates may include those who were enrolled in the VISTA program at a prior time. Cost share means when an entity, such as a VISTA sponsor, reimburses CNCS part or all of the expenses associated with the operation of a VISTA project, such as the costs for one or more VISTAs, leaders, or summer associates placed in a VISTA project. CNCS means the Corporation for National and Community Service, established pursuant to section 191 of the National and Community Service Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 12651. CNCS is also sometimes referred to as ‘‘the Corporation.’’ Education award or Segal AmeriCorps Education Award means an end-ofservice monetary benefit from CNCS’s National Service Trust that is directed to designated educational institutions and is awarded to certain qualifying VISTAs who successfully complete an established term of VISTA service. Enroll, enrolled, or enrollment, when used in the context of VISTA service, refers to the status of an individual admitted to serve in the VISTA program. The enrollment period commences E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations when the Oath to serve in the VISTA program is taken by the candidate and ends upon termination from a term of service in the VISTA program. The enrollment period may commence on a date earlier than the first day of a service assignment of an enrolled VISTA member. Full-time, when used in the context of VISTA service means service in which a VISTA, leader, or summer associate remains available for service without regard to regular working hours. Leader, a leader, or a VISTA leader means a VISTA member who is enrolled for full-time VISTA service, and who is also subject to the terms of subpart G of this part. Living allowance or living allowance payment means a monetary benefit paid for subsistence purposes to a VISTA member during VISTA service. Memorandum of Agreement means a written agreement between CNCS and a sponsor regarding the terms of the sponsor’s involvement and responsibilities in the VISTA program. Nonpartisan election means: (1) An election in which none of the candidates is to be nominated or elected as representing a political party any of whose candidates for Presidential elector received votes in the last preceding election at which Presidential electors were selected; or (2) An election involving a question or issue which is not specifically identified with a political party, such as a constitutional amendment, referendum, approval of a municipal ordinance, or any question or issue of a similar character. Oath means an avowal to VISTA service, taken in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 3331, by an individual who is a U.S. citizen or national. The taking of the Oath effects an individual’s enrollment into the VISTA program. On-duty or during service time means when a VISTA is either performing VISTA service or scheduled to do so. Project or VISTA project means a set of VISTA activities operated and overseen by, and the responsibility of, a sponsor, and assisted under this Part to realize the goals of title I of the DVSA. Project applicant or VISTA project applicant means an entity that submits an application to CNCS to operate, oversee, and be responsible for a VISTA project. Project application or VISTA project application means the application materials prescribed by CNCS to ascertain information on an applying entity’s eligibility and suitability to operate, oversee, and be responsible for, a VISTA project. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 Project director or VISTA project director means a staff person, of legal age, of the sponsor, who has been assigned by the sponsor the overall responsibility for the management of the VISTA project. Sponsor, VISTA sponsor, or VISTA project sponsor means a public agency or private non-profit organization that receives assistance under title I of the DVSA, and is responsible for operating and overseeing a VISTA project. A public agency may be a federal, state, local or tribal government. State, when used as a noun, means one of the several states in the United States of America, District of Columbia, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. State Program Director means a CNCS official who reports to an Area Manager or equivalent CNCS official, and who is the head of a CNCS State Office. Stipend or end-of-service stipend means an end-of-service lump-sum monetary benefit from CNCS that is awarded to certain qualifying VISTAs, who successfully complete an established term of VISTA service. Subrecipient means a public agency or private non-profit organization that enters into an agreement with a VISTA sponsor to receive one or more VISTAs, and to carry out a set of activities, assisted under this Part, to realize the goals of title I of the DVSA. A public agency may be a federal, state, local or tribal government. Summer associate means a VISTA member who is enrolled for VISTA service, during a period between May 1 and September 15, and who is also subject to the terms of subpart H of this part. A summer associate must be available to provide continuous fulltime service for a period of at least eight weeks and a maximum of ten weeks. Supervisor or VISTA Supervisor means a staff member, of legal age, of the sponsor or a subrecipient, who has been assigned by the sponsor or the subrecipient, the responsibility for the day-to-day oversight of one or more VISTAs. Tribe means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including any Alaskan native village or regional village corporation as defined in or established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which is recognized by the United States or the State in which it resides as eligible for special programs and services provided to Indians because of their status as Indians. VISTA member, a VISTA, or the VISTA means an individual enrolled PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63461 full-time for VISTA service in the VISTA program, as authorized under title I of the DVSA. VISTA program means the Federal government program named Volunteers in Service to America and authorized under title I of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 4950 et seq. VISTA service means VISTA service activities performed by a VISTA member while enrolled in the VISTA program. § 2556.7 Are waivers of the regulations in this part allowed? Upon a determination of good cause, the Chief Executive Officer of CNCS may, subject to statutory limitations, waive any provisions of this part. Subpart B—VISTA Sponsors Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4953(a), (f), 4954(b), (e), 4955(b), 4956, 5043(a)–(c), 5044(a)–(c), (e), 5046, 5052, 5056, and 5057; 42 U.S.C. 12651b (g)(10); E.O. 13279, 67 FR 77141, 3 CFR, 2002 Comp., p. 2156. § 2556.100 Which entities are eligible to apply to become VISTA sponsors? The following entities are eligible to apply to become VISTA sponsors, and thereby undertake projects in the U.S. and certain U.S. territories: (a) Private nonprofit organization. (b) Public nonprofit organization. (c) State government or state government agency. (d) Local government or local government agency. (e) Tribal government or tribal government agency. § 2556.105 Which entities are prohibited from being VISTA sponsors? (a) An entity is prohibited from being a VISTA sponsor or from otherwise receiving VISTA assistance if a principal purpose or activity of the entity includes any of the following: (1) Electoral activities. Any activity designed to influence the outcome of elections to any public office, such as actively campaigning for or against, or supporting, candidates for public office; raising, soliciting, or collecting funds for candidates for public office; or preparing, distributing, providing funds for campaign literature for candidates, including leaflets, pamphlets, and material designed for the print or electronic media. (2) Voter registration activities. Any voter registration activity, such as providing transportation of individuals to voter registration sites; providing assistance to individuals in the process of registering to vote, including determinations of eligibility; or E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 63462 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations disseminating official voter registration material. (3) Transportation to the polls. Providing voters or prospective voters with transportation to the polls or raising, soliciting, or collecting funds for such activities. (b) Any organization that, subsequent to the receipt of VISTA assistance, makes as one of its principal purposes or activities any of the activities described in paragraph (a) of this section shall be subject to the procedures in §§ 2556.125 through 2556.145. § 2556.110 What VISTA assistance is available to a sponsor? (a) A sponsor may be approved for one or more VISTA positions. (b) A sponsor, upon review and approval by CNCS to establish a leader position or positions, and in accordance with criteria set forth at subpart G of this part, may be approved for one or more leader positions. (c) A sponsor, upon approval by CNCS to establish a summer associate position or positions, and in accordance with criteria set forth at subpart F of this part, may be approved for one or more summer associate positions. (d) A sponsor may be eligible to receive certain grant assistance under the terms determined and prescribed by CNCS. (e) A sponsor may receive training and technical assistance related to carrying out purposes of title I of the DVSA. § 2556.115 Is a VISTA sponsor required to provide a cash or in-kind match? (a) A sponsor is not required to provide a cash match for any of the assistance listed in § 2556.110. (b) A sponsor must provide supervision, work space, service-related transportation, and any other materials necessary to operate and complete the VISTA project and support the VISTA. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 2556.120 How does a VISTA sponsor ensure the participation of people in the communities to be served? (a) To the maximum extent practicable, the people of the communities to be served by VISTA members shall participate in planning, developing, and implementing programs. (b) The sponsor shall articulate in its project application how it will engage or continue to engage relevant communities in the development and implementation of programs. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 § 2556.125 May CNCS deny or reduce VISTA assistance to an existing VISTA project? (a) CNCS may deny or reduce VISTA assistance where a denial or reduction is based on: (1) Legislative requirement; (2) Availability of funding; (3) Failure to comply with applicable term(s) or condition(s) of a contract, grant agreement, or an applicable Memorandum of Agreement; (4) Ineffective management of CNCS resources; (5) Substantial failure to comply with CNCS policy and overall objectives under a contract, grant agreement, or applicable Memorandum of Agreement; or (6) General policy. (b) In instances where the basis for denial or reduction of VISTA assistance may also be the basis for the suspension or termination of a VISTA project under this subpart, CNCS shall not be limited to the use of this section to the exclusion of the procedures for suspension or termination in this subpart. § 2556.130 What is the procedure for denial or reduction of VISTA assistance to an existing VISTA project? (a) CNCS shall notify the sponsor in writing, at least 75 calendar days before the anticipated denial or reduction of VISTA assistance, that CNCS proposes to deny or reduce VISTA assistance. CNCS’s written notice shall state the reasons for the decision to deny or reduce assistance and shall provide an opportunity period for the sponsor to respond to the merits of the proposed decision. CNCS retains sole authority to make the final determination whether the VISTA assistance at issue shall be denied or reduced, as appropriate. (b) Where CNCS’s notice of proposed decision is based upon a specific charge of the sponsor’s failure to comply with the applicable term(s) or condition(s) of a contract, grant agreement, or an applicable Memorandum of Agreement, the notice shall offer the sponsor an opportunity period to respond in writing to the notice, with any affidavits or other supporting documentation, and to request an informal hearing before a mutually agreed-upon impartial hearing officer. The authority of such a hearing officer shall be limited to conducting the hearing and offering recommendations to CNCS. Regardless of whether or not an informal hearing takes place, CNCS shall retain full authority to make the final determination whether the VISTA assistance is denied or reduced, as appropriate. PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 (c) If the recipient requests an informal hearing, in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section, such hearing shall be held at a date specified by CNCS and held at a location convenient to the sponsor. (d) If CNCS’s proposed decision is based on ineffective management of resources, or on the substantial failure to comply with CNCS policy and overall objectives under a contract, grant agreement, or an applicable Memorandum of Agreement, CNCS shall inform the sponsor in the notice of proposed decision of the opportunity to show cause why VISTA assistance should not be denied or reduced, as appropriate. CNCS shall retain full authority to make the final determination whether the VISTA assistance at issue shall be denied or reduced, as appropriate. (e) The recipient shall be informed of CNCS’s final determination on whether the VISTA assistance at issue shall be denied or reduced, and the basis for the determination. (f) The procedure in this section does not apply to a denial or reduction of VISTA assistance based on legislative requirements, availability of funding, or on general policy. § 2556.135 What is suspension and when may CNCS suspend a VISTA project? (a) Suspension is any action by CNCS temporarily suspending or curtailing assistance, in whole or in part, to all or any part of a VISTA project, prior to the time that the project term is concluded. Suspension does not include the denial or reduction of new or additional VISTA assistance. (b) In an emergency situation for up to 30 consecutive days, CNCS may suspend assistance to a sponsor, in whole or in part, for the sponsor’s material failure or threatened material failure to comply with an applicable term(s) or condition(s) of the DVSA, the regulations in this part, VISTA program policy, or an applicable Memorandum of Agreement. Such suspension in an emergency situation shall be pursuant to notice and opportunity to show cause why assistance should not be suspended. (c) To initiate suspension proceedings, CNCS shall notify the sponsor in writing that CNCS is suspending assistance in whole or in part. The written notice shall contain the following: (1) The grounds for the suspension and the effective date of the commencement of the suspension; (2) The sponsor’s right to submit written material in response to the suspension to show why the VISTA E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations assistance should not be suspended, or should be reinstated, as appropriate; and (3) The opportunity to adequately correct the deficiency, or deficiencies, which led to CNCS’s notice of suspension. (d) In deciding whether to continue or lift the suspension, as appropriate, CNCS shall consider any timely material presented in writing, any material presented during the course of any informal meeting, as well as any showing that the sponsor has adequately corrected the deficiency which led to the initiation of suspension. (e) During the period of suspension of a sponsor, no new expenditures, if applicable, shall be made by the sponsor’s VISTA project at issue and no new obligations shall be incurred in connection with the VISTA project at issue except as specifically authorized in writing by CNCS. (f) CNCS may, in its discretion, modify the terms, conditions, and nature of the suspension or rescind the suspension action at any time on its own initiative or upon a showing that the sponsor has adequately corrected the deficiency or deficiencies which led to the suspension and that repetition is not foreseeable. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 2556.140 What is termination and when may CNCS terminate a VISTA project? (a) Termination means any action by CNCS permanently terminating or curtailing assistance to all or any part of a sponsor’s VISTA project prior to the time that the project term is concluded. (b) CNCS may terminate assistance to a sponsor in whole or in part for the sponsor’s material failure to comply with an applicable term(s) or condition(s) of the DVSA, the regulations in this part, VISTA program policy, or an applicable Memorandum of Agreement. (c) To initiate termination proceedings, CNCS shall notify the sponsor in writing that CNCS is proposing to terminate assistance in whole or in part. The written notice shall contain the following: (1) A description of the VISTA assistance proposed for termination, the grounds that warrant such proposed termination, and the proposed date of effective termination; (2) Instructions regarding the sponsor’s opportunity, within 21 calendar days from the date of issuance of the notice, to respond in writing to the merits of the proposed termination and instructions regarding the sponsor’s right to request a full and fair hearing before a mutually agreed-upon impartial hearing officer; and VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 (3) Invitation of voluntary action by the sponsor to adequately correct the deficiency or deficiencies which led to CNCS’s notice of proposed termination. (d) In deciding whether to effect termination of VISTA assistance, CNCS shall consider any relevant, timely material presented in writing; any relevant material presented during the course of any full and fair hearing; as well as, any showing that the sponsor has adequately corrected the deficiency which led to the initiation of termination proceedings. (e) Regardless of whether or not a full and fair hearing takes place, CNCS shall retain all authority to make the final determination as to whether the termination of VISTA assistance is appropriate. (f) The sponsor shall be informed of CNCS’s final determination on the proposed termination of VISTA assistance, and the basis or bases for the determination. (g) CNCS may, in its discretion, modify the terms, conditions, and nature of a termination action or rescind a termination action at any time on its own initiative or upon a showing that the sponsor has adequately corrected the deficiency which led to the termination, or the initiation of termination proceedings, and that repetition is not threatened. § 2556.145 May CNCS pursue other remedies against a VISTA project for a sponsor’s material failure to comply with any other requirement not set forth in this subpart? The procedures established by this subpart shall not preclude CNCS from pursuing any other remedies authorized by law. § 2556.150 What activities are VISTA members not permitted to perform as part of service? (a) A VISTA may not perform any activities in the project application that do not correspond with the purpose of the VISTA program, as described in § 2556.1, or that the Director has otherwise prohibited. (b) A VISTA may not perform services or duties as a VISTA member that would otherwise be performed by employed workers or other volunteers (not including participants under the DVSA and the National and Community Service Act of 1990, as amended). (c) A VISTA may not perform any services or duties, or engage in activities as a VISTA member, that supplant the hiring of or result in the displacement of employed workers or other volunteers (not including participants under the DVSA or the National and Community Service Act of 1990, as amended). PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63463 (d) A VISTA may not perform any services or duties, or engage in activities as a VISTA member, which impair existing contracts for service. (e) The requirements of paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section do not apply when the sponsor requires the service in order to avoid or relieve suffering threatened by, or resulting from, a disaster, civil disturbance, terrorism, or war. (f) A sponsor or subrecipient shall not request or receive any compensation from a VISTA; from a beneficiary of VISTA project services; or any other source for services of a VISTA. § 2556.155 May a sponsor manage a VISTA project through a subrecipient? (a) A sponsor may carry out a VISTA project through one or more subrecipients that meet the eligibility criteria of § 2556.100. (b) The sponsor must enter into a subrecipient agreement with each subrecipient. A subrecipient agreement must have at least the following elements: (1) A project plan to be implemented by the subrecipient; (2) Records to be kept and reports to be submitted; (3) Responsibilities of the parties and other program requirements; and (4) Suspension and termination policies and procedures. (c) The sponsor retains the responsibility for compliance with a Memorandum of Agreement; the applicable regulations in this Part; and all applicable policies, procedures, and guidance issued by CNCS regarding the VISTA program. (d) A sponsor shall not request or receive any compensation from a subrecipient for services performed by a VISTA. (e) A sponsor shall not receive payment from, or on behalf of, the subrecipient for costs of the VISTA assistance, except in two limited circumstances: (1) For reasonable and actual costs incurred by the sponsor directly related to the subrecipient’s participation in a VISTA project; and (2) For any cost share related to a VISTA placed with the subrecipient in the VISTA project. § 2556.160 What are the sponsor’s requirements for cost share projects? (a) A sponsor shall enter into a written agreement for cost share as prescribed by CNCS. (b) A sponsor shall make timely cost share payments as prescribed by CNCS and applicable federal law and regulations. E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 63464 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations (c) In addition to other sources of funds, a sponsor may use funds from federal, state, or local government agencies, provided the requirements of those agencies and their programs are met. (d) Subject to review and approval by CNCS, CNCS may enter into an agreement with another entity to receive and utilize funds to make cost share payments on behalf of the sponsor. § 2556.165 What Fair Labor Standards apply to VISTA sponsors and subrecipients? All sponsors and subrecipients that employ laborers and mechanics for construction, alteration, or repair of facilities shall pay wages at prevailing rates as determined by the Secretary of Labor in accordance with the DavisBacon Act, as amended, 40 U.S.C. 276a. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 2556.170 What nondiscrimination requirements apply to sponsors and subrecipients? (a) An individual with responsibility for the operation of a project that receives CNCS assistance must not discriminate against a participant in, or member of the staff of, such project on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or political affiliation of such participant or staff member, or on the basis of disability, if the participant or staff member is a qualified individual with a disability. (b) Any CNCS assistance constitutes Federal financial assistance for purposes of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.), title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.), section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794), and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (42 U.S.C. 6101 et seq.), and constitutes Federal financial assistance to an education program or activity for purposes of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.). (c) An individual with responsibility for the operation of a project that receives CNCS assistance may not discriminate on the basis of religion against a participant in such project or a member of the staff of such project who is paid with CNCS funds. This provision does not apply to the employment (with CNCS assistance) of any staff member of a CNCS-supported project who was employed with the organization operating the project on the date the CNCS assistance was awarded. (d) Sponsors must notify all program participants, staff, applicants, and beneficiaries of: (1) Their rights under applicable federal nondiscrimination laws, including relevant provisions of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 national service legislation and implementing regulations; and (2) The procedure for filing a discrimination complaint. No sponsor or subrecipient, or sponsor or subrecipient employee, or individual with responsibility for the implementation or operation of a sponsor or a subrecipient, shall discriminate against a VISTA on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, or political affiliation. No sponsor or subrecipient, or sponsor or subrecipient employee, or individual with responsibility for the implementation or operation of a sponsor or a subrecipient, shall discriminate against a VISTA on the basis of disability, if the VISTA is a qualified individual with a disability. § 2556.175 What limitations are VISTA sponsors subject to regarding religious activities? (a) A VISTA shall not give religious instruction, conduct worship services or engage in any form of proselytizing as part of his or her duties. (b) A sponsor or subrecipient may retain its independence and may continue to carry out its mission, including the definition, development, practice, and expression of its religious beliefs, provided that it does not use any CNCS assistance, including the services of any VISTA or VISTA assistance, to support any inherently religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytizing, as part of the programs or services assisted by the VISTA program. If a VISTA sponsor or subrecipient conducts such inherently religious activities, the activities must be offered separately, in time or location, from the programs or services assisted under this Part by the VISTA program. Subpart C—VISTA Members Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4953(b)(3), (f), 4954(a)–(c), 5044(e). § 2556.200 VISTA? Who may apply to serve as a An individual may apply to serve as a VISTA if all the following requirements are met: (a) The individual is at least eighteen years of age upon taking an oath or affirmation, as appropriate, to enter VISTA service. There is no upper age limit. (b) The individual is a United States citizen or national, or is legally residing within a state. For eligibility purposes, a lawful permanent resident alien is considered to be an individual who is legally residing within a state. PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 § 2556.205 What commitments and agreements must an individual make to serve in the VISTA program? (a) To the maximum extent practicable, the individual must make a full-time commitment to remain available for service without regard to regular working hours, at all times during his or her period of service, except for authorized periods of leave. (b) To the maximum extent practicable, the individual must make a full-time personal commitment to alleviate poverty and poverty-related problems, and to live among and at the economic level of the low-income people served by the project. (c) The individual’s service cannot be used to satisfy service requirements of parole, probation, or community service prescribed by the criminal justice system. (d) A VISTA candidate or member agrees to undergo an investigation into his or her criminal history or background as a condition of enrollment, or continued enrollment, in the VISTA program. § 2556.210 Who reviews and approves an application for VISTA service? CNCS has the final authority to approve or deny VISTA applications for VISTA service. Subpart D—Terms, Protections, and Benefits of VISTA Members Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4954(a), (b), (d), 4955, 5044(e), 5055, and 5059; 42 U.S.C. 12602(c). § 2556.300 Is a VISTA considered a Federal employee and is a VISTA considered an employee of the sponsor? (a) Except for the purposes listed here, a VISTA is not considered an employee of the Federal Government. A VISTA is considered a Federal employee only for the following purposes: (1) Federal Tort Claims Act—28 U.S.C. 1346(b); 28 U.S.C. 2671–2680; (2) Federal Employees’ Compensation Act—5 U.S.C. chapter 81, subchapter 1; (3) Hatch Act—5 U.S.C. chapter 73, subchapter III; (4) Internal Revenue Service Code— 26 U.S.C. 1 et seq.; and (5) Title II of the Social Security Act— 42 U.S.C. 401 et seq. (b) A VISTA is not considered a federal employee for any purposes other than those set forth in paragraph (a) of this section. (c) A VISTA is not covered by Federal or state unemployment compensation related to their enrollment or service in the VISTA program. A VISTA’s service is not considered employment for purposes of eligibility for, or receipt of, E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations federal, state, or any other unemployment compensation. (d) Monetary allowances, such as living allowances that VISTAs receive during VISTA service are not considered wages. Monetary allowances, such as living allowances, that VISTAs receive during VISTA service are considered income for such purposes as Federal income tax and Social Security. (e) A VISTA is not, under any circumstances, considered an employee of the sponsor or subrecipient to which he or she is assigned to serve. No VISTA is in an employment relationship with the sponsor or subrecipient to which he or she is assigned. The sponsor is not authorized to make contributions to any state unemployment compensation fund on a VISTA’s behalf. § 2556.305 What is the duration and scope of service for a VISTA? (a) To serve as a VISTA, an individual makes a full-time commitment for a minimum of one year, without regard to regular working hours. (b) A VISTA carries out activities in accordance with the purpose of the VISTA program, as described in § 2556.1. (c) To the maximum extent practicable, the VISTA shall live among and at the economic level of the lowincome community served by the project, and actively seek opportunities to engage with that low-income community without regard to regular work hours. (d) A VISTA carries out service activities in conformance with the sponsor’s approved project application, including any description of a VISTA assignment as contained in the project application; and, in conformance with the purpose of title I of the DVSA. In any case where there is a conflict between the project application and the DVSA, the DVSA takes precedence. (e) Under no circumstances may an individual be enrolled to serve as a VISTA beyond five years. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 2556.310 What are the lines of supervision or oversight of a VISTA, a VISTA sponsor, and CNCS during a VISTA’s term of service? (a) The VISTA sponsor is responsible for the day-to-day supervision and oversight of the VISTA. (b) CNCS is responsible for ongoing monitoring and oversight of the VISTA sponsor’s project where the VISTA is assigned. CNCS is responsible for selecting the VISTA, assigning the VISTA to a project, removal of a VISTA from a project, and VISTA separation actions such as termination from the VISTA program. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 § 2556.315 What are terms and conditions for official travel for a VISTA? (a) CNCS may provide official travel for a VISTA candidate or a VISTA, as appropriate, to attend CNCS-directed activities, such as pre-service training, placement at the project site, in-service training events, and return from the project site to home of record. (b) CNCS must approve all official travel of a VISTA candidate or a VISTA, including the mode of travel. (c) CNCS may provide for official emergency travel for a VISTA in case of a natural disaster or the critical illness or death of an immediate family member. § 2556.320 What benefits may a VISTA receive during VISTA service? (a) A VISTA receives a living allowance computed on a daily rate. Living allowances vary according to the local cost-of-living in the project area where the VISTA is assigned. (b) Subject to a maximum amount, and at the discretion and upon approval of CNCS, a VISTA may receive payment for settling-in expenses, as determined by CNCS. (c) Subject to a maximum amount, and at the discretion of CNCS, in the event of an emergency (such as theft, fire loss, or special clothing necessitated by severe climate), a VISTA may receive an emergency expense payment in order to resume VISTA service activities, as determined and approved by CNCS. (d) Subject to a maximum amount, and at the discretion of CNCS, a VISTA may receive a baggage allowance for the actual costs of transporting personal effects to the project site to which the VISTA is assigned to serve, as determined by CNCS. (e) To the extent eligible, a VISTA may receive health care through a health benefits program provided by CNCS. (f) To the extent eligible, a VISTA may receive child care support through a child care program provided by CNCS. (g) To the extent eligible, a VISTA may elect to receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, and upon successful completion of service, receive that award in an amount prescribed by CNCS, in accordance with the applicable provisions of 45 CFR parts 2526, 2527, and 2528. (1) A VISTA is eligible to elect to receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award if he or she is a citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident alien of the United States. (2) A VISTA who elects a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is eligible to request forbearance of a student loan from his or her loan-holder. A VISTA who elects a Segal AmeriCorps PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63465 Education Award may, upon successful completion of service, be eligible to receive up to 100 percent of the interest accrued on a qualified student loan, consistent with the applicable provisions of 45 CFR part 2529. (3) A VISTA is not eligible to receive more than an amount equal to the aggregate value of two full-time Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards in his or her lifetime. (4) Other than for a summer associate, the amount of a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award for the successful completion of a VISTA term of service is equal to the maximum amount of a Federal Pell Grant under Section 401 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070a) that a student eligible for such grant may receive in the aggregate for the fiscal year in which the VISTA has enrolled in the VISTA program. (h) A VISTA who does not elect to receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, upon successful completion of service, receives an end-of-service stipend in an amount prescribed by CNCS. (i) In the event that a VISTA does not successfully complete a full term of service, a VISTA shall not receive a prorated Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or a pro-rated end-of-service stipend, except in cases where the appropriate State Program Director determines the VISTA did not successfully complete a full term of service because of a compelling, personal circumstance. Examples of a compelling, personal circumstance are: Serious medical condition or disability of a VISTA during VISTA service; critical illness or disability of a VISTA’s immediate family member (spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, child, or guardian) if this event makes completing a term of service unreasonably difficult; or unusual conditions not attributable to the VISTA, such as natural disaster, strike, or premature closing of a project, that make completing a term unreasonably difficult or infeasible. (j) In the event of a VISTA’s death during service, his or her family or others that he or she named as beneficiary in accordance with section 5582 of title 5, United States Code, shall be paid a pro-rated end-of-service stipend for the period during which the VISTA served. If the VISTA had elected to receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award for successful completion of a full term of VISTA service, prior to payment to the named beneficiary, CNCS shall convert that election to an end-of-service stipend and pay the VISTA’s family, or others that he or she named as beneficiary, a E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 63466 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations pro-rated end-of-service stipend accordingly. § 2556.325 May a VISTA be provided coverage for legal defense expenses related to VISTA service? Under certain circumstances, as set forth in §§ 2556.330 through 2556.335, CNCS may pay reasonable legal defense expenses incurred in judicial or administrative proceedings for the defense of a VISTA serving in the VISTA program. Such covered legal expenses consist of counsel fees, court costs, bail, and other expenses incidental to a VISTA’s legal defense. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 2556.330 When may a VISTA be provided coverage for legal defense expenses related to criminal proceedings? (a) For the legal defense of a VISTA member who is charged with a criminal offense related to the VISTA member’s service, up to and including arraignment in Federal, state, and local criminal proceedings, CNCS may pay actual and reasonable legal expenses. CNCS is not required to pay any expenses for the legal defense of a VISTA member where he or she is charged with a criminal offense arising from alleged activity or action that is unrelated to that VISTA’s service. (b) A VISTA member’s service is clearly unrelated to a charged offense: (1) When the activity or action is alleged to have occurred prior to the VISTA member’s VISTA service. (2) When the VISTA member is not at his or her assigned project location, such as during periods of approved leave, medical leave, emergency leave, or in administrative hold status in the VISTA program. (3) When the activity or action is alleged to have occurred at or near his or her assigned project, but is clearly not part of, or required by, the VISTA member’s service assignment. (c) For the legal defense, beyond arraignment in Federal, state, and local criminal proceedings, of a VISTA member who is charged with a criminal offense, CNCS may also pay actual and reasonable legal expenses: (1) When the charged offense against the VISTA member relates exclusively to his or her VISTA assignment or status as a VISTA member; (2) When the charge offense against the VISTA member arises from an alleged activity or action that is a part of, or required by, the VISTA member’s VISTA assignment; (3) When the VISTA member has not admitted a willful or knowing violation of law; or (4) When the charged offense against the VISTA member is not a minor VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 offense or misdemeanor, such as a minor vehicle violation. (d) Notwithstanding paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section, there may be situations in which the criminal proceedings at issue arise from a matter that also gives rise to a civil claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act. In such a situation, the U.S. Department of Justice may, on behalf of the United States, agree to defend the VISTA. If the U.S. Department of Justice agrees to defend the VISTA member, unless there is a conflict between the VISTA member’s interest and that of the United States, CNCS will not pay for expenses associated with any additional legal representation (such as counsel fees for private counsel) for the VISTA member. § 2556.335 When may a VISTA be provided coverage for legal defense expenses related to civil or administrative proceedings? For the legal defense in Federal, state, and local civil judicial and administrative proceedings of a VISTA member, CNCS may also pay actual and reasonable legal expenses, where: (a) The complaint or charge is against the VISTA, and is directly related to his or her VISTA service and not to his or her personal activities or obligations; (b) The VISTA has not admitted to willfully or knowingly pursuing a course of conduct that would result in the plaintiff or complainant initiating such a proceeding; and (c) The judgment sought involves a monetary award that exceeds $1,000. § 2556.340 What is non-competitive eligibility and who is eligible for it? (a) Non-competitive eligibility is a status attained by an individual such that the individual is eligible for appointment by a Federal agency in the Executive branch, into a civil service position in the federal competitive service, in accordance with 5 CFR 315.605. (b) An individual who successfully completes at least a year-long term of service as a VISTA, and who has not been terminated for cause from the VISTA program at any time, retains noncompetitive eligibility status for one year following the end of the term of service as a VISTA. (c) In addition to the retention of the one year of non-competitive eligibility status as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, an individual’s noncompetitive eligibility status may extend for two more years to a total of three years if the individual is: (1) In the military service; (2) Studying at a recognized institution of higher learning; or (3) In another activity which, in the view of the federal agency referenced in PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 paragraph (a) of this section, warrants extension. § 2556.345 Who may present a grievance? (a) Under the VISTA program grievance procedure, a grievance may be presented by any individual who is currently enrolled as a VISTA in the VISTA program or who was enrolled as a VISTA in the VISTA program within the past 30 calendar days. (b) A VISTA’s grievance shall not be construed as reflecting on the VISTA’s standing, performance, or desirability as a VISTA. (c) A VISTA who presents a grievance shall not be subjected to restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal because of presentation of views. § 2556.350 What matters are considered grievances? (a) Under the VISTA program grievance procedure, grievances are matters of concern, brought by a VISTA, that arise out of, and directly affect, the VISTA’s service situation or that arise out of a violation of a policy, practice, or regulation governing the terms or conditions of the VISTA’s service, such that the violation results in the denial or infringement of a right or benefit to the VISTA member. (b) Matters not within the definition of a grievance as defined in paragraph (a) of this section are not grievable, and therefore, are excluded from the VISTA program grievance procedure. Though not exhaustive, examples of matters excluded from the VISTA program grievance procedure are: (1) Those matters related to a sponsor’s or project’s continuance or discontinuance; the number of VISTAs assigned to a VISTA project; the increases or decreases in the level of support provided to a VISTA project; the suspension or termination of a VISTA project; or the selection or retention of VISTA project staff. (2) Those matters for which a separate administrative procedure or complaint process is provided, such as early termination for cause, claims of discrimination during service, and federal worker’s compensation claims filed for illness or injury sustained in the course of carrying out VISTA activities. (3) Those matters related to any law, published rule, regulation, policy, or procedure. (4) Those matters related to housing during a VISTA member’s service. (5) Those matters which are, by law, subject to final administrative review outside CNCS. (6) Those matters related to actions taken, or not taken, by a VISTA sponsor E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations or subrecipient, or CNCS, in compliance with or in order to fulfill the terms of a contract, grant, or other agreement related to the VISTA program. (7) Those matters related to the internal management of CNCS, unless such matters are shown to specifically and directly affect the VISTA’s service situation or terms or conditions of his or her VISTA service. § 2556.355 May a VISTA have access to records as part of the VISTA grievance procedure? (a) A VISTA is entitled to review any material in his or her official VISTA file and any relevant CNCS records to the extent permitted by the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, 552a. Examples of materials that may be withheld include references obtained under pledge of confidentiality, official VISTA files of other VISTAs, and privileged intraagency documents. (b) A VISTA may review relevant materials in the possession of a sponsor to the extent such materials are disclosable by the sponsor under applicable freedom of information act and privacy laws. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 2556.360 How may a VISTA bring a grievance? (a) Bringing a grievance—Step 1. (1) While currently enrolled in the VISTA program, or enrolled in the VISTA program within the past 30 calendar days, a VISTA may bring a grievance to the sponsor or subrecipient where he or she is assigned to serve within 15 calendar days that the event giving rise to the grievance occurs, or within 15 calendar days after becoming aware of the event. If the grievance arises out of a continuing condition or practice that individually affects a VISTA, while enrolled the VISTA may bring it at any time while he or she is affected by a continuing condition or practice. (2) A VISTA brings a grievance by presenting it in writing to the executive director, or comparable individual, of the sponsoring organization where the VISTA is assigned, or to the sponsor’s representative who is designated to receive grievances from a VISTA. (3) The sponsor shall review and respond in writing to the VISTA’s grievance, within 10 calendar days of receipt of the written grievance. The sponsor may not fail to respond to a complaint raised by a VISTA on the basis that it is not an actual grievance, or that it is excluded from coverage as a grievance, but may, in the written response, dismiss the complaint and refuse to grant the relief requested on either of those grounds. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 (4) If the grievance brought by a VISTA involves a matter over which the sponsor has no substantial control or if the sponsor’s representative is the supervisor of the VISTA, the VISTA may pass over the procedure set forth in paragraphs (a)(1) through (3) of this section, and present the grievance in writing directly to the State Program Director, as described in paragraph (b) of this section. (b) Bringing a grievance—Step 2. (1) If, after a VISTA brings a grievance as set forth in paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section, the matter is not resolved, he or she may submit the grievance in writing to the appropriate State Program Director. The VISTA must submit the grievance to the State Program Director either: (i) Within seven calendar days of receipt of the response of the sponsor; or, (ii) In the event the sponsor has not issued a response to the VISTA within 10 calendar days of receipt of the written grievance, within 17 calendar days. (2) If the grievance involves a matter over which either the sponsor or subrecipient has no substantial control or if the sponsor’s representative is the supervisor of the VISTA, as described in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, the VISTA may pass over the procedure set forth in paragraphs (a)(1) through (3) of this section, and submit the grievance in writing directly to the State Program Director. In such a case, the VISTA must submit the grievance to the State Program Director within 15 calendar days of the event giving rise to the grievance occurs, or within 15 calendar days after becoming aware of the event. (3) Within ten working days of receipt of the grievance, the State Program Director shall respond in writing, regardless of whether or not the matter constitutes a grievance as defined under this grievance procedure, and/or is timely submitted. In the response, the State Program Director may determine that the matter submitted as a grievance is not grievable, is not considered a grievance, or fails to meet the time limit for response. If the State Program Director makes any such determination, he or she may dismiss the complaint, setting forth the reason(s) for the dismissal. In such a case, the State Program Director need not address the complaint on the merits, nor make a determination of the complaint on the merits. § 2556.365 May a VISTA appeal a grievance? (a) The VISTA may appeal in writing to the appropriate Area Manager the PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63467 response of the State Program Director to the grievance, as set forth in § 2556.360(b)(3). To be eligible to appeal a grievance response to the Area Manager, the VISTA must have exhausted all appropriate actions as set forth in § 2556.360. (b) A VISTA’s grievance appeal must be in writing and contain sufficient detail to identify the subject matter of the grievance, specify the relief requested, and be signed by the VISTA. (c) The VISTA must submit a grievance appeal to the appropriate Area Manager no later than 10 calendar days after the State Program Director issues his or her response to the grievance. (d) Certain matters contained in a grievance appeal may be rejected, rather than denied on the merits, by the Area Manager. A grievance appeal may be rejected, in whole or in part, for any of the following reasons: (1) The grievance appeal was not submitted to the appropriate Area Manager within the time limit specified in paragraph (c) of this section; (2) The grievance appeal consists of matters not contained within the definition of a grievance, as specified in section § 2556.350(a); (3) The grievance appeal consists of matters excluded from the VISTA program grievance procedure, as specified in § 2556.350(b); or (4) The grievance appeal contains matters that are moot, or for which relief has otherwise been granted. (e) Within 14 calendar days of receipt of the grievance, the appropriate Area Manager shall decide the grievance appeal on the merits, or reject the grievance appeal in whole or in part, or both, as appropriate. The Area Manager shall notify the VISTA in writing of the decision and specify the grounds for the appeal decision. The appeal decision shall include a statement of the basis for the decision and is a final decision of CNCS. Subpart E—Termination for Cause Procedures Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4953(b), (c), (f), and 5044(e). § 2556.400 What is termination for cause and what are the criteria for termination for cause? (a) Termination for cause is discharge of a VISTA from the VISTA program due to a deficiency, or deficiencies, in conduct or performance. (b) CNCS may terminate for cause a VISTA for any of the following reasons: (1) Conviction of any criminal offense under Federal, State, or local statute or ordinance; E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 63468 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations (2) Violation of any provision of the Domestic Service Volunteer Act of 1973, as amended, or any CNCS or VISTA program policy, regulation, or instruction; (3) Failure, refusal, or inability to perform prescribed project duties as outlined in the project plan, assignment description, or as directed by the sponsor to which the VISTA is assigned; (4) Involvement in activities which substantially interfere with the VISTA’s performance of project duties; (5) Intentional false statement, misrepresentation, omission, fraud, or deception in seeking to obtain selection as a VISTA in the VISTA program; (6) Any conduct on the part of the VISTA which substantially diminishes his or her effectiveness as a VISTA; or (7) Unsatisfactory performance of an assignment. § 2556.405 Who has sole authority to remove a VISTA from a VISTA project and who has sole authority to terminate a VISTA from the VISTA program? (a) CNCS has the sole authority to remove a VISTA from a project where he or she has been assigned. (b) CNCS has the sole authority to terminate for cause, or otherwise terminate, a VISTA from the VISTA program. (c) Neither the sponsoring organization nor any of its subrecipients has the authority to remove a VISTA from a project or to terminate a VISTA for cause, or for any other basis, from the VISTA program. § 2556.410 May a sponsor request that a VISTA be removed from its project? mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES (a) The head of a sponsoring organization, or his or her designee, may request that CNCS remove a VISTA assigned to its project. Any such request must be submitted in writing to the appropriate State Program Director and should state the reasons for the request. (b) The State Program Director may, at his or her discretion, attempt to resolve the situation with the sponsor so that an alternative solution other than removal of the VISTA from the project assignment is reached. (c) When an alternative solution, as referenced in paragraph (b) of this section, is not sought, or is not reached within a reasonable time period, the State Program Director shall remove the VISTA from the project. § 2556.415 May CNCS remove a VISTA from a project without the sponsor’s request for removal? Of its own accord, CNCS may remove a VISTA from a project assignment without the sponsor’s request for removal. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 § 2556.420 What are termination for cause proceedings? (a) Termination for cause proceedings are initiated by the State Program Director when CNCS removes a VISTA from a project assignment due to an alleged deficiency, or alleged deficiencies, in conduct or performance. (b) The State Program Director or other CNCS State Office staff, to the extent practicable, communicates the matter with the VISTA who is removed from a VISTA project and the administrative procedures as set forth in paragraphs (c) through (e) of this section. (c) The State Program Director shall notify VISTA in writing of CNCS’s proposal to terminate for cause. The written proposal to terminate him or her for cause must give the VISTA the reason(s) for the proposed termination, and notify him or her that he or she has 10 calendar days within which to answer in writing the proposal to terminate him or her for cause, and to furnish any accompanying statements or written material. The VISTA must submit any answer to the appropriate State Program Director identified in the written proposal to terminate for cause within the deadline specified in the proposal to terminate for cause. (d) Within 10 calendar days of the expiration of the VISTA’s deadline to answer the proposal to terminate for cause, the appropriate State Program Director shall issue a written decision regarding the proposal to terminate for cause. (1) If the decision is to terminate the VISTA for cause, the decision shall set forth the reasons for the determination and the effective date of termination (which may be on or after the date of the decision). (2) If the decision is not to terminate the VISTA for cause, the decision shall indicate that the proposal to terminate for cause is rescinded. (e) A VISTA who does not submit a timely answer to the appropriate State Program Director, as set forth in paragraph (c) of this section, is not entitled to appeal the decision regarding the proposal to terminate for cause. In such cases, CNCS may terminate the VISTA for cause, on the date identified in the decision, and the termination action is final. § 2556.425 May a VISTA appeal his or her termination for cause? (a) Within 10 calendar days of the appropriate State Program Director’s issuance of the decision to terminate the VISTA for cause, as set forth in § 2556.420(d), the VISTA may appeal the decision to the appropriate Area PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Manager. The appeal must be in writing and specify the reasons for the VISTA’s disagreement with the decision. (b) CNCS shall not incur any expenses or travel allowances for the VISTA in connection with the preparation or presentation of the appeal. (c) The VISTA may have access to records as follows: (1) The VISTA may review any material in the VISTA’s official CNCS file and any relevant CNCS records to the extent permitted by the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, 552a. Examples of documents that may be withheld include references obtained under pledge of confidentiality, official files of other program participants, and privileged intra-agency documents. (2) The VISTA may review relevant records in the possession of a sponsor to the extent such documents are disclosable by the sponsor under applicable freedom of information act and privacy laws. (d) Within 14 calendar days of receipt of any appeal by the VISTA, the Area Manager or equivalent CNCS official shall issue a written appeal determination. The appeal determination shall indicate the reasons for such an appeal determination. The appeal determination shall be final. § 2556.430 Is a VISTA who is terminated early from the VISTA program for other than cause entitled to appeal under these procedures? (a) Only a VISTA whose early termination from the VISTA program is for cause, and who has answered the proposal to terminate him or her for cause in a timely manner, as set forth in § 2556.420(c), is entitled to appeal the early termination action, as referenced in § 2556.425. A termination for cause is based on a deficiency, or deficiencies, in the performance or conduct of a VISTA. (b) The following types of early terminations from the VISTA program are not terminations for cause, and are not entitled to appeal under the early termination appeal procedure set forth in §§ 2556.420 and 2556.425: (1) Resignation from the VISTA program prior to the issuance of a decision to terminate for cause, as set forth in § 2556.420(d); (2) Early termination from the VISTA program because a VISTA did not secure a suitable reassignment to another project; and (3) Medical termination from the VISTA program. Subpart F—Summer Associates Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4954(d), (e). E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations § 2556.500 How is a position for a summer associate established in a project? (a) From time-to-time, the State Program Director invites sponsors within the state to apply for one or more positions for individuals to serve as summer associates at the sponsor’s VISTA project. (b) Subject to VISTA assistance availability, CNCS approves the establishment of summer associate positions based on the following factors: (1) The need in the community, as demonstrated by the sponsor, for the performance of project activities by a summer associate(s); (2) The content and quality of summer associate project plans; (3) The capacity of the sponsor to implement the summer associate project activities; and (4) The sponsor’s compliance with all applicable parts of the DVSA, VISTA program policy, and the sponsor’s Memorandum of Agreement, which incorporates their project application. § 2556.505 How do summer associates differ from other VISTAs? Summer associates differ from other VISTAs in the following ways: (a) Summer associates are not eligible to receive: (1) Health care through a health benefits program provided by CNCS; (2) Child care support through a child care program provided by CNCS; (3) Payment for settling-in expenses; or (4) Non-competitive eligibility in accordance with 5 CFR 315.605. (b) Absent extraordinary circumstances, summer associates are not eligible to receive: (1) Payment for travel expenses incurred for travel to or from the project site to which the summer associate is assigned; or (2) A baggage allowance for the costs of transporting personal effects to or from the project site to which the summer associate is assigned to serve. (c) CNCS may discharge a summer associate due to a deficiency, or deficiencies, in conduct or performance. Summer associates are not subject to subpart E of this part, or to the grievance procedures provided to VISTAs set forth in §§ 2556.345 through 2556.365. Subpart G—VISTA Leaders mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4954(b). § 2556.600 How is a position for a leader established in a project, or in multiple projects within a contiguous geographic region? (a) At its discretion, CNCS may approve the establishment of a leader position based on the following factors: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 (1) The need for a leader in a project of a substantial size and with multiple VISTAs assigned to serve at that project, or the need for leader for multiple projects located within a contiguous geographic region. (2) The need for a leader to assist with the communication of VISTA policies and administrative procedures to VISTAs within a project, or throughout the multiple projects within a contiguous geographic region, as applicable. (3) The need for a leader to assist with the professional development of VISTAs within a project, or throughout the multiple projects within a contiguous geographic region, as applicable. (4) The need for a leader to assist with the recruitment and preparation for the arrival of VISTAs within a project, or throughout the multiple projects within a contiguous geographic region, as applicable. (5) The capacity of the VISTA supervisor to support and guide the leader. (b) A sponsor may request, in its project application, that CNCS establish a leader position in its project. § 2556.605 Who is eligible to apply to serve as a leader? An individual is eligible to apply to serve as a leader if he or she has successfully completed any of the following: (a) At least one year of service as a VISTA; (b) At least one full term of service as a full-time AmeriCorps State and National member; (c) At least one full term of service as a member of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC); or (d) At least one traditional term of service as a Peace Corps Volunteer. § 2556.610 What is the application process to apply to become a leader? (a) Application package. An eligible individual must apply in writing to CNCS to become a leader. The sponsor’s recommendation and related materials, described in paragraph (b) of this section, must be included with the individual’s application to become a leader. (b) Sponsor recommendation. A sponsor where an individual is seeking to serve as a leader must recommend in writing to CNCS the individual to become a leader. Included with the recommendation must be an evaluation of the individual’s performance while in previous service, a description of specific tasks, responsibilities, qualifications, and other relevant information that justifies the placement PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63469 of the individual in a leader position, and if appropriate, the establishment of a leader position. (c) Selection. CNCS shall have sole authority to select a leader. The criteria for selection shall include consideration of the individual’s application and the sponsor’s recommendation described in paragraph (b) of this section. § 2556.615 Who reviews a leader application and who approves or disapproves a leader application? CNCS reviews the application package for the leader position, considers the recommendation of the sponsor, and approves or disapproves the individual to serve as a leader. § 2556.620 How does a leader differ from other VISTAs? The application process to apply to become a leader, as described in § 2556.610, is separate and distinct from the application process to apply to enroll as a VISTA in the VISTA program: (a) A leader may receive a living allowance computed at a higher daily rate than other VISTAs, as authorized under section 105(a)(1)(B) of the DVSA. (b) A leader is subject to all the terms and conditions of service described in § 2556.625. § 2556.625 What are terms and conditions of service for a leader? Though not exhaustive, terms and conditions of service as a leader include: (a) A leader makes a full-time commitment to serve as a leader, without regard to regular working hours, for a minimum of one year. (b) To the maximum extent practicable, a leader shall live among and at the economic level of the lowincome community served by the project and actively seek opportunities to engage with that low-income community. (c) A leader aids the communication of VISTA policies and administrative procedures to VISTAs. (d) A leader assists with the leadership development of VISTAs. (e) A leader is a resource in the development and delivery of training for VISTAs. (f) A leader may assist the sponsor with recruitment and preparation for the arrival of VISTAs. (g) A leader may advise a supervisor on potential problem areas and needs of VISTAs. (h) A leader aids VISTAs in the development of effective working relationships and understanding of VISTA program concepts. E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 63470 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations (i) A leader may aid the supervisor and sponsor in directing or focusing the VISTA project to best address the community’s needs. (j) A leader may serve as a collector of data for performance measures of the project and the VISTAs. (k) A leader is prohibited from supervising VISTAs. A leader is also prohibited from handling or managing, on behalf of the project, personnelrelated matters affecting VISTAs. Personnel-related matters affecting VISTAs must be managed and handled by the project and in coordination with the appropriate CNCS State Office. Subpart H—Restrictions and Prohibitions on Political Activities and Lobbying Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4954(a), 5043, and 5055(b). § 2556.700 subpart? Who is covered by this (a) All VISTAs, including leaders and summer associates, are subject to this subpart. (b) All employees of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients, whose salaries or other compensation are paid, in whole or in part, with VISTA grant assistance are subject to this subpart. (c) All VISTA sponsors and subrecipients are subject to this subpart. § 2556.705 activity? What is prohibited political For purposes of the regulations in this subpart, ‘‘prohibited political activity’’ means an activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 2556.710 What political activities are VISTAs prohibited from engaging in? (a) A VISTA may not use his or her official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election. (b) A VISTA may not use his or her official authority or influence to coerce any individual to participate in political activity. (c) A VISTA may not use his or her official VISTA program title while participating in prohibited political activity. (d) A VISTA may not participate in prohibited political activities in the following circumstances: (1) While he or she is on duty; (2) While he or she is wearing an article of clothing, logo, insignia, or other similar item that identifies CNCS, the VISTA program, or one of CNCS’s other national service programs; (3) While he or she is in any room or building occupied in the discharge of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 VISTA duties by an individual employed by the sponsor; and (4) While using a vehicle owned or leased by a sponsor or subrecipient, or while using a privately-owned vehicle in the discharge of VISTA duties. § 2556.715 What political activities may a VISTA participate in? (a) Provided that paragraph (b) of this section is fully adhered to, a VISTA may: (1) Express his or her opinion privately and publicly on political subjects; (2) Be politically active in connection with a question which is not specifically identified with a political party, such as a constitutional amendment, referendum, approval of a municipal ordinance, or any other question or issue of similar character; (3) Participate in the nonpartisan activities of a civic, community, social, labor, or professional organization, or of a similar organization; and (4) Participate fully in public affairs, except as prohibited by other Federal law, in a manner which does not compromise his or her efficiency or integrity as a VISTA, or compromise the neutrality, efficiency, or integrity of CNCS or the VISTA program. (b) A VISTA may participate in political activities set forth in paragraph (a) of this section as long as such participation: (1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties; (2) Does not interfere with his or her provision of service in the VISTA program; (3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA assistance, resources or funds; (4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program; (5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and (6) Does not interfere with the fulltime commitment to remain available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of leave. § 2556.720 May VISTAs participate in political organizations? (a) Provided that paragraph (b) of this section is fully adhered to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in § 2556.710, a VISTA may: (1) Be a member of a political party or other political group and participate in its activities; PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 (2) Serve as an officer of a political party or other political group, a member of a national, State, or local committee of a political party, an officer or member of a committee of a political group, or be a candidate for any of these positions; (3) Attend and participate fully in the business of nominating caucuses of political parties; (4) Organize or reorganize a political party organization or political group; (5) Participate in a political convention, rally, or other political gathering; and (6) Serve as a delegate, alternate, or proxy to a political party convention. (b) A VISTA may participate in a political organization as long as such participation: (1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties; (2) Does not interfere with the provision of service in the VISTA program; (3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA assistance, resources or funds; (4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program; (5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and (6) Does not interfere with the fulltime commitment to remain available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of leave. § 2556.725 May VISTAs participate in political campaigns? (a) Provided that paragraph (b) of this section is fully adhered to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in § 2556.710, a VISTA may: (1) Display pictures, signs, stickers, badges, or buttons associated with political parties, candidates for partisan political office, or partisan political groups, as long as these items are displayed in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in § 2556.710; (2) Initiate or circulate a nominating petition for a candidate for partisan political office; (3) Canvass for votes in support of or in opposition to a partisan political candidate or a candidate for political party office; (4) Endorse or oppose a partisan political candidate or a candidate for political party office in a political advertisement, broadcast, campaign literature, or similar material; and (5) Address a convention caucus, rally, or similar gathering of a political E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations party or political group in support of or in opposition to a partisan political candidate or a candidate for political party office. (b) A VISTA may participate in a political campaign as long as such participation: (1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties; (2) Does not interfere with the provision of service in the VISTA program; (3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA assistance, resources or funds; (4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program; (5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and (6) Does not interfere with the fulltime commitment to remain available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of leave. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 2556.730 May VISTAs participate in elections? (a) Provided that paragraph (b) of this section is fully adhered to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in § 2556.710, a VISTA may: (1) Register and vote in any election; (2) Act as recorder, watcher, challenger, or similar officer at polling places; (3) Serve as an election judge or clerk, or in a similar position; and (4) Drive voters to polling places for a partisan political candidate, partisan political group, or political party. (5) Participate in voter registration activities. (b) A VISTA may participate in elections as long as such participation: (1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties; (2) Does not interfere with the provision of service in the VISTA program; (3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA assistance, resources or funds; (4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program; (5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and (6) Does not interfere with the fulltime commitment to remain available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at all times VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 during periods of service, except for authorized periods of leave. § 2556.735 May a VISTA be a candidate for public office? (a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no VISTA may run for the nomination to, or as a candidate for election to, partisan political office. (b) In accordance with the prohibitions set forth in § 2556.710, a VISTA may participate in elections as long as such participation: (1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties; (2) Does not interference with the provision of service in the VISTA program; (3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA assistance, resources or funds; (4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program; (5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and (6) Does not interfere with the fulltime commitment to remain available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of leave. (c) Provided that paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section are adhered to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in § 2556.710, a VISTA may: (1) Run as an independent candidate in a partisan election in designated U.S. municipalities and political subdivisions as set forth at 5 CFR part 733; and (2) Run as a candidate in a nonpartisan election. § 2556.740 May VISTAs participate in political fundraising activities? (a) Provided that paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section are fully adhered to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in § 2556.710, a VISTA may: (1) Make a political contribution to a political party, political group, campaign committee of a candidate for public office in a partisan election; (2) Attend a political fundraiser; and (3) Solicit, accept, or receive uncompensated volunteer services for a political campaign from any individual. (b) A VISTA may participate in fundraising activities as long as such participation: (1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties; PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63471 (2) Does not interfere with the provision of service in the VISTA program; (3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA assistance, resources or funds; (4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program; (5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and (6) Does not interfere with the fulltime commitment to remain available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of leave. (c) A VISTA may not knowingly: (1) Personally solicit, accept, or receive a political contribution from another individual; (2) Personally solicit political contributions in a speech or keynote address given at a fundraiser; (3) Allow his or her perceived or actual affiliation with the VISTA program, or his or her official title as a VISTA, to be used in connection with fundraising activities; or (4) Solicit, accept, or receive uncompensated individual volunteer services from a subordinate, (e.g., a leader may not solicit, accept or receive a political contribution from a VISTA). (d) Except for VISTAs who reside in municipalities or political subdivisions designated under 5 CFR part 733, no VISTA may accept or receive a political contribution on behalf of an individual who is a candidate for local partisan political office and who represents a political party. § 2556.745 Are VISTAs prohibited from soliciting or discouraging the political participation of certain individuals? (a) A VISTA may not knowingly solicit or discourage the participation in any political activity of any individual who has an application for any compensation, grant, contract, ruling, license, permit, or certificate pending before CNCS or the VISTA program. (b) A VISTA may not knowingly solicit or discourage the participation of any political activity of any individual who is the subject of, or a participant in, an ongoing audit, investigation, or enforcement action being carried out by or through CNCS or the VISTA program. § 2556.750 What restrictions and prohibitions are VISTAs subject to who campaign for a spouse or family member? A VISTA who is the spouse or family member of either a candidate for partisan political office, candidate for political party office, or candidate for E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1 63472 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Rules and Regulations public office in a nonpartisan election, is subject to the same restrictions and prohibitions as other VISTAs, as set forth in § 2556.725. § 2556.755 May VISTAs participate in lawful demonstrations? In accordance with the prohibitions set forth in § 2556.710, VISTAs may participate in lawful demonstrations, political rallies, and other political meetings, so long as such participation is in conformance with all of the following: (a) Occurs only while on authorized leave or while otherwise off duty; (b) Does not include attempting to represent, or representing the views of VISTAs or the VISTA program on any public issue; (c) Could not be reasonably understood by the community as being identified with the VISTA program, the project, or other elements of VISTA service; and (d) Does not interfere with the discharge of VISTA duties. § 2556.760 May a sponsor and subrecipient approve the participation of a VISTA in a demonstration or other political meeting? mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES (a) No VISTA sponsor or subrecipient shall approve a VISTA to be involved in planning, initiating, participating in, or otherwise aiding or assisting in any demonstration or other political meeting. (b) If a VISTA sponsor or subrecipient which, subsequent to the receipt of any CNCS financial assistance, including the assignment of VISTAs, approves the participation of a VISTA in a demonstration or other political meeting, shall be subject to procedures related to the suspension or termination of such assistance, as provided in VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 subpart B of this part, §§ 2556.135 through 2556.140. § 2556.765 What disciplinary actions are VISTAs subject to for violating restrictions or prohibitions on political activities? Violations by a VISTA of any of the prohibitions or restrictions set forth in this subpart may warrant termination for cause, in accordance with proceedings set forth at §§ 2556.420, 2556.425, and 2556.430. § 2556.770 What are the requirements of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients regarding political activities? (a) All sponsors and subrecipients are required to: (1) Understand the restrictions and prohibitions on the political activities of VISTAs, as set forth in this subpart; (2) Provide training to VISTAs on all applicable restrictions and prohibitions on political activities, as set forth in this subpart, and use training materials that are consistent with these restrictions and prohibitions; (3) Monitor on a continuing basis the activity of VISTAs for compliance with this subpart; and (4) Report all violations, or questionable situations, immediately to the appropriate CNCS State Office. (b) Failure of a sponsor to comply with the requirements of this subpart, or a violation of the requirements contained in this subpart by the sponsor or subrecipient, sponsor or subrecipient’s covered employees, agents, or VISTAs, may be deemed to be a material failure to comply with terms or conditions of the VISTA program. In such a case, the sponsor shall be subject to procedures related to the denial or reduction, or suspension or termination, of such assistance, as provided in §§ 2556.125, 2556.130, and 2556.140. PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 § 2556.775 What prohibitions and restrictions on political activity apply to employees of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients? All employees of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients, whose salaries or other compensation are paid, in whole or in part, with VISTA funds are subject to all applicable prohibitions and restrictions described in this subpart in the following circumstances: (a) Whenever they are engaged in an activity that is supported by CNCS or VISTA funds or assistance; and (b) Whenever they identify themselves as acting in their capacity as an official of a VISTA project that receives CNCS or VISTA funds or assistance, or could reasonably be perceived by others as acting in such a capacity. § 2556.780 What prohibitions on lobbying activities apply to VISTA sponsors and subrecipients? (a) No VISTA sponsor or subrecipient shall assign a VISTA to perform service or engage in activities related to influencing the passage or defeat of legislation or proposals by initiative petition. (b) No VISTA sponsor or subrecipient shall use any CNCS financial assistance, such as VISTA funds or the services of a VISTA, for any activity related to influencing the passage or defeat of legislation or proposals by initiative petition. Dated: October 6, 2015. Jeremy Joseph, General Counsel. [FR Doc. 2015–25790 Filed 10–19–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6050–28–P E:\FR\FM\20OCR1.SGM 20OCR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 202 (Tuesday, October 20, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 63454-63472]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-25790]


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CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE

45 CFR Parts 1206, 1210, 1211, 1216, 1217, 1218, 1220, 1222, 1226, 
and 2556

RIN 3045-AA36


Volunteers in Service to America

AGENCY: Corporation for National and Community Service.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) 
publishes new regulations under the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 
1973, as amended, and the National and Community Service Act of 1990, 
as amended, for the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program, 
including certain changes to update existing regulations.

DATES: This rule is effective January 19, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Calvin Dawson, AmeriCorps VISTA, at 
the Corporation for National and Community Service, 1201 New York 
Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20525, phone 202-606-6897. The TDD/TTY 
number is 800-833-3722.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 created the Volunteers in 
Service to America (VISTA) program. The VISTA program, sometimes 
referred to as the domestic Peace Corps, has operated since the first 
VISTA volunteers (VISTAs or VISTA members) were placed in service in 
December 1964.
    In 1971, the VISTA program was transferred from the Office of 
Economic Opportunity to the former Federal agency, ACTION (the Federal 
Domestic Volunteer Agency). In 1973, Congress enacted the Domestic 
Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (DVSA), the VISTA program's enabling 
legislation. The VISTA program continues to retain its purpose, as 
stated in the DVSA, ``to strengthen and supplement efforts to eliminate 
and alleviate poverty and poverty-related problems in the United States 
by encouraging and enabling individuals from all walks of life, all 
geographical areas, and all age groups, including low-income 
individuals, elderly and retired Americans, to perform meaningful and 
constructive volunteer service in agencies, institutions, and 
situations where the application of human talent and dedication may 
assist in the solution of poverty and poverty-related problems and 
secure and exploit opportunities for self-advancement by individuals 
afflicted with such problems.''
    In 1994, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) 
was established pursuant to the National and Community Service Trust 
Act of 1993; at this time, the operations of all service programs 
previously administered by ACTION, including the VISTA program, began 
to be administered by CNCS. The VISTA program also became known as the 
AmeriCorps VISTA program, one of three AmeriCorps programs now 
administered by CNCS. The other two programs were, and continue to be: 
(1) The AmeriCorps State and National program; and (2) the AmeriCorps 
National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). Since 1994, the VISTA program 
continues to be primarily operated and administered under the DVSA. The 
other two AmeriCorps programs are operated under the National and 
Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA).
    In 2009, Congress enacted the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act 
of 2009 (Serve America Act), which contained certain amendments to both 
the DVSA and the NCSA. With regard to the VISTA program, the Serve 
America Act amendments largely related to the Segal AmeriCorps 
Education Award, a type of end-of-service award for which a VISTA 
member may be eligible upon successful completion of a term of VISTA 
service.

II. Scope of Final Rule

    This rule covers core aspects of the VISTA program: (a) Entities 
that are sponsors for VISTA projects; and (b) individuals who are 
applicants, candidates, and VISTAs (including VISTA leaders and VISTA 
summer associates), serving at project sites. This rule has four 
purposes.
    First, it conforms the existing regulations to the fact that CNCS 
administers the VISTA program. References in the existing regulations 
to the former Federal agency, ACTION, and the administrative structure 
of ACTION are changed to reflect CNCS and its administrative structure.
    Second, this rule codifies the VISTA rules in the same location as 
the rules for CNCS's other programs. The existing VISTA regulations are 
codified at 45 CFR parts 1206, 1210, 1211, 1216-1220, 1222, and 1226. 
This rule places the VISTA regulations within the regulations for CNCS 
and the other CNCS programs at 45 CFR parts 2505-2556.
    On a related note, existing program regulations at 45 CFR parts 
1206, 1216,

[[Page 63455]]

1220, and 1226, currently apply both to the VISTA program, and to 
CNCS's National Senior Service Corps programs. This rule places 
existing program regulations, as they apply to the VISTA program, at 45 
CFR parts 2505-2556. Existing program regulations as they apply to the 
National Senior Service Corps programs will remain, at this time, at 45 
CFR parts 1206, 1216, 1220, and 1226. To accommodate the relocation of 
the existing program regulations as applied to the VISTA program, 
certain technical changes to the existing program regulations, as 
applied to the National Senior Service Corps programs, are warranted. 
These technical changes are not substantive, but are necessary to 
address the removal of references to the VISTA program and to reflect 
CNCS and its current administrative structure.
    Third, this rule addresses regulations on the VISTA program's 
elements. The existing regulations cover a limited range of topics. 
This rule covers a wide range of topics, and updates the topics covered 
under existing regulations, including: VISTA application and 
termination processes, volunteer grievance procedures, competitive 
service eligibility, payment of volunteer legal expenses, 
nondisplacement of workers, VISTA leaders and summer associates, 
restrictions for VISTAs on certain political activities under the Hatch 
Act and other federal laws, and participation of program beneficiaries. 
Subpart A gives general program information: Purpose, basic program 
design, definitions used in the rule, and waiver. Subpart B sets out 
requirements for a VISTA sponsor, and for a sponsor to support a VISTA. 
Subpart C pertains to being a VISTA, and the requirements for applying 
to become a VISTA. Subpart D provides the service terms, protections, 
and benefits that apply to a VISTA. Subpart E addresses termination for 
cause procedures. Subparts F and G, concern, respectively, VISTA 
projects with summer associates, and VISTA projects with VISTA leaders. 
Subpart H gives restrictions and prohibitions on certain political 
activities for all VISTAs, sponsors, and project sites.
    Fourth, this rule updates the provisions of the existing 
regulations. These changes are described here:
    As it applies to the VISTA program, 45 CFR part 1206, which deals 
with project suspension and termination, is moved to 45 CFR part 2556, 
subpart B with most substantive provisions remaining unchanged. Under 
this final rule, the provisions for suspension remain unchanged, except 
that the provisions for summary suspension are eliminated and the 
provisions for suspension on notice are retained. This has the effect 
of giving notice to sponsors for all suspensions. Under the final rule 
the provisions for termination remain unchanged, except that a second 
CNCS review has been eliminated. Experience has shown that a lengthy 
termination review process is not beneficial to VISTAs at the project 
in question, unduly consumes the sponsor's staff time and other 
resources, creates uncertainty for project beneficiaries, and exhausts 
VISTA resources that could be put to use for the benefit of project 
beneficiaries.
    The regulations at 45 CFR part 1210, which deal chiefly with early 
termination of a VISTA, are moved to 45 CFR part 2556, subpart E and 
changed to improve the cost-effectiveness of the provisions and 
increase efficiency of VISTA program functions. The new provisions for 
early termination remain substantively the same in many respects. 
However, the early termination for cause process is modified. While the 
process retains more than sufficient due process in the form of written 
notification and appeals at two levels, the inclusion of a hearing 
examiner in that process is removed. Experience has shown that a multi-
layered termination process is protracted, unduly burdensome, and 
incompatible with a service term that can last no more than a year's 
time. Such a process creates potential harm to the operations of the 
project and its beneficiaries where the VISTA had been assigned, 
prolongs uncertainty for the VISTA subject to the process, and 
inordinately consumes VISTA program resources that could be put to use 
for the benefit of project beneficiaries.
    Regulations in 45 CFR part 1211 on grievance procedures for VISTAs 
are moved to 45 CFR 2556.345-2556.365 and updated to reflect the use of 
electronic communication technology and the speed at which it can 
operate. At Sec. Sec.  2556.345 through 2556.365, the rule clarifies 
when a VISTA may present a grievance, what matters are considered 
grievances, and specific steps for bringing a grievance and appealing a 
response, while eliminating the inclusion of a grievance examiner in 
the process. Longstanding experience has shown that CNCS has used its 
administrative review and oversight to afford complaining parties more 
than sufficient due process, and has effectively remedied inappropriate 
conditions leading to grievances, without need of grievance examiner 
services. When grievance examiner services have been invoked, the time, 
resources and expense incurred by the VISTA program have substantially 
outweighed the value provided to the parties involved.
    Regulations at 45 CFR part 1216 on non-displacement of employed 
workers and non-impairment of contracts for service are moved to 45 CFR 
2556.150(b) through (e), and the substantive provisions remain 
unchanged.
    Regulations at 45 CFR part 1217 on leaders are moved to 45 CFR part 
2556, subpart G, and clarify primary aspects of the leader position in 
a project.
    Regulations at 45 CFR part 1219 on non-competitive eligibility for 
VISTAs are moved to 45 CFR 2556.340, and their substantive provisions 
remain unchanged.
    Regulations at 45 CFR part 1220 on payment of legal expenses 
resulting from service activities are moved to 45 CFR 2556.325 through 
2556.335, and their substantive provisions remain unchanged.
    Regulations at 45 CFR part 1222 on participation of project 
beneficiaries are moved to 45 CFR 2556.120, and their substantive 
provisions remain unchanged.
    Regulations at 45 CFR part 1226 on prohibitions and restrictions on 
certain political activities are moved to 45 CFR part 2556, subpart H 
and are revised to complement the current limitations and permitted 
political activities under the Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. chapter 73, 
subchapter III. As provided in the DVSA, VISTAs are subject to the 
requirements of the Hatch Act because they are considered federal 
employees for purposes of the Hatch Act, 42 U.S.C. 5055(b)(1).

III. Comments and Responses

    On Tuesday, May 5, 2015, CNCS published a notice of proposed 
rulemaking. 80 FR 25637. We received fewer than 25 comments on the 
rule, all of which are addressed below.
    We received comments from individuals currently serving as VISTAs, 
current and former VISTA leaders, staff of VISTA sponsors, a state non-
profit association and State Commissions on National and Community 
Service. We appreciate the thoughtful input provided by these 
individuals and organizations.
    Comment: We received comments about our proposal to expand the 
eligibility to be a VISTA leader to include those who have had prior 
Peace Corps experience, or have had prior national service experience 
in AmeriCorps, regardless of whether the prior experience was through 
the AmeriCorps VISTA program or another AmeriCorps program.

[[Page 63456]]

    Response: We appreciate the support commenters expressed for the 
expansion of eligibility criteria to be a VISTA leader. While two 
commenters thought that the expansion did not adequately recognize the 
value of the VISTA experience, the majority of commenters articulated 
support for the expansion that mirrored our reasons for proposing it: 
Better recruitment opportunities for programs; a wider pool of 
excellent prospective candidates; and recognition and leveraging of the 
leadership skills earned through other national service programs. 
Moreover, in our view, expanding the scope of individuals who may be 
eligible does not in any way diminish the value placed on the VISTA 
experience in particular.
    Comment: We received several comments on VISTA health care coverage 
and requests to change the health care coverage options offered to 
VISTAs serving in the program.
    Response: The health care options available to AmeriCorps VISTA 
members are outlined at http://www.vistacampus.gov/resources/vista-healthcare-options. The proposed rule did not propose any changes to 
VISTA health care coverage and doing so is beyond the scope of this 
rulemaking.
    Comment: We received two comments regarding the Segal AmeriCorps 
Education Award (Education Award) that suggested changes to the 
statutory requirements placed on VISTAs regarding their use of the 
Education Award, namely transferability and use of the Education Award 
at VA-eligible institutions.
    Response: We appreciate the commenters identifying how the 
Education Award would be more useful to VISTAs. In accordance with 
current legislation, individuals who successfully serve in the 
AmeriCorps State and National program may transfer their Education 
Awards to certain third party individuals as long as those individuals 
meet certain statutory conditions. However, VISTAs who receive 
Education Awards are unable to transfer them to anyone else. Until the 
legislation changes, we are bound by the statutory requirements on the 
use of the Education Award by VISTAs. Similarly, until the legislation 
changes, we are restricted from expanding the use of the Education 
Award by non-veterans to study at VA-eligible educational institutions.
    Accordingly, we have made only technical edits to the proposed rule 
for clarity in the use of the terms ``sponsor,'' ``project,'' and 
``subrecipient.'' Additionally, we clarified the applicability of 
sections 2556.125 and 2556.130.

IV. Effective Date

    This rule is effective January 19, 2016.

V. Regulatory Procedures

Executive Order 12866

    CNCS has determined that the rule is not an ``economically 
significant'' rule within the meaning of E.O. 12866 because it is not 
likely to result in: (1) An annual effect on the economy of $100 
million or more, or an adverse and material effect on a sector of the 
economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public 
health or safety, or State, local, or tribal government or communities; 
(2) the creation of a serious inconsistency or interference with an 
action taken or planned by another agency; (3) a material alteration in 
the budgetary impacts of entitlement, grants, user fees, or loan 
programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) 
the raising of novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in 
E.O. 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 605 
(b)), CNCS certifies that this rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This 
regulatory action will not result in (1) an annual effect on the 
economy of $100 million or more; (2) a major increase in costs or 
prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local 
government agencies, or geographic regions; or (3) significant adverse 
effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, 
innovation, or on the ability of United States-based enterprises to 
compete with foreign-based enterprises in domestic and export markets. 
Therefore, CNCS has not performed the initial regulatory flexibility 
analysis that is required under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 
U.S.C. 601 et seq.) for major rules that are expected to have such 
results.

Unfunded Mandates

    For purposes of Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 
1995, 2 U.S.C. 1531-1538, as well as Executive Order 12875, this 
regulatory action does not contain any Federal mandate that may result 
in increased expenditures in either Federal, State, local, or tribal 
governments in the aggregate, or impose an annual burden exceeding $100 
million on the private sector.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule addresses the requirement that entities that wish to 
apply to be VISTA sponsors complete an application to be a VISTA 
sponsor that manages at least one VISTA project. Consistent with this 
requirement is a document: The VISTA program's Project Application 
(http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-vista/sponsor-vista-project). Additionally this rule addresses the 
requirement that individuals who wish to apply to serve as VISTAs in 
the federal VISTA program complete an application to serve as a VISTA. 
This document is called an AmeriCorps Member Application and can be 
found online at http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-vista.
    These requirements constitute two sets of information under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 507 et seq. OMB, in accordance 
with the Paperwork Reduction Act, has previously approved these 
information collections for use. The OMB Control Number for the two 
collections of the Project Application and AmeriCorps Application are 
3045-0038 and 3045-0054, respectively.
    Under the PRA, an agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of 
information unless the collections of information displays valid 
control numbers. This rule's collections of information are contained 
in 45 CFR 2556.120 and 2556.205 for the Project Application and 
AmeriCorps Application, respectively.
    This information is necessary to ensure that only eligible and 
qualified entities serve as VISTA sponsors. This information is also 
necessary to ensure that only eligible and suitable individuals are 
approved by the VISTA program to serve as VISTAs in the VISTA program.
    The likely respondents to these collections of information are 
entities interested in or seeking to become VISTA sponsors, current 
VISTA sponsors, and current and prospective VISTAs.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    Executive Order 13132, Federalism, prohibits an agency from 
publishing any rule that has Federalism implications if the rule 
imposes substantial direct compliance costs on State and local 
governments and is not required by statute, or the rule preempts State 
law, unless the agency meets the consultation and funding requirements 
of section 6 of the Executive Order. The rule does not have any 
Federalism implications, as described above.

[[Page 63457]]

List of Subjects

45 CFR Parts 1206, 1210, 1211, 1216 Through 1218, 1220, and 1222

    Volunteers.

45 CFR Part 1226

    Elections, Lobbying, Volunteers.

45 CFR Part 2556

    VISTA program, Volunteers.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, under the authority of 
42 U.S.C. 12651c(c), the Corporation for National and Community Service 
amends chapters XII and XXV, title 45 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations as follows:

PART 1206--GRANTS AND CONTRACTS--SUSPENSION AND TERMINATION AND 
DENIAL OF APPLICATION FOR REFUNDING

0
1. The authority citation for part 1206 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 5052.


0
2. In Sec.  1206.1-1, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  1206.1-1  Purpose and scope.

    (a) This subpart establishes rules and review procedures for the 
suspension and termination of assistance of National Senior Service 
Corps grants of assistance provided by the Corporation for National and 
Community Service pursuant to sections of title II of the Domestic 
Volunteer Service Act of 1973, Public Law 93-113, 87 Stat. 413 
(hereinafter the DVSA) because a recipient failed to materially comply 
with the terms and conditions of any grant or contract providing 
assistance under these sections of the DVSA, including applicable laws, 
regulations, issued program guidelines, instructions, grant conditions 
or approved work programs.
* * * * *

0
3. Revise Sec.  1206.1-2 to read as follows:


Sec.  1206.1-2  Application of this part.

    This subpart applies to programs authorized under title II of the 
DVSA.

0
4. In Sec.  1206.1-3, revise paragraphs (c) through (f) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  1206.1-3  Definitions.

* * * * *
    (c) The term responsible Corporation official means the CEO, Chief 
Financial Officer, the Director of the National Senior Service Corps 
programs, the appropriate Service Center Director and any Corporation 
for National and Community Service (CNCS) Headquarters or State office 
official who is authorized to make the grant or assistance in question. 
In addition to the foregoing officials, in the case of the suspension 
proceedings described in Sec.  1206.1-4, the term ``responsible 
Corporation official'' shall also include a designee of a CNCS official 
who is authorized to make the grant of assistance in question.
    (d) The term assistance means assistance under title II of the DVSA 
in the form of grants or contracts involving Federal funds for the 
administration for which the Director of the National Senior Service 
Corps programs has responsibility.
    (e) The term recipient means a public or private agency, 
institution or organization or a State or other political jurisdiction 
which has received assistance under title II of the DVSA. The term 
``recipient'' does not include individuals who ultimately receive 
benefits under any DVSA program of assistance or National Senior 
Service Corps volunteers participating in any program.
    (f) The term agency means a public or private agency, institution, 
or organization or a State or other political jurisdiction with which 
the recipient has entered into an arrangement, contract or agreement to 
assist in its carrying out the development, conduct and administration 
of part of a project or program assisted under title II of the DVSA.
* * * * *

0
5. Revise Sec.  1206.2-1 to read as follows:


Sec.  1206.2-1  Applicability of this subpart.

    This subpart applies to grantees and contractors receiving 
financial assistance under title II of the DVSA. The procedures in the 
subpart do not apply to review of applications for sponsors who receive 
VISTA members under the DVSA.

0
6. Revise Sec.  1206.2-3 to read as follows:


Sec.  1206.2-3  Definitions.

    As used in this subpart, ``Corporation'', ``CEO'', and 
``recipient'' are defined in accordance with Sec.  1206.1-3.
    Financial assistance and assistance include the services of 
National Senior Service Corps volunteers supported in whole or in part 
with CNCS funds under the DVSA.
    Program account includes assistance provided by CNCS to support a 
particular program activity; for example, Foster Grandparent Program, 
Senior Companion Program and Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
    Refunding includes renewal of an application for the assignment of 
National Senior Service Corps volunteers.

0
7. In Sec.  1206.2-4, revise paragraph (g) to read as follows:


Sec.  1206.2-4  Procedures.

* * * * *
    (g) If the recipient's budget period expires prior to the final 
decision by the deciding official, the recipient's authority to 
continue program operations shall be extended until such decision is 
made and communicated to the recipient. If a National Senior Service 
Corps volunteer's term of service expires after receipt by a sponsor of 
a tentative decision not to refund a project, the period of service of 
the volunteer may be similarly extended. No volunteers may be 
reenrolled for a period of service while a tentative decision not to 
refund is pending. If program operations are so extended, CNCS and the 
recipient shall provide, subject to the availability of funds, 
operating funds at the same levels as in the previous budget period to 
continue program operations.

PART 1210--[REMOVED AND RESERVED]

0
8. Remove and reserve part 1210.

PART 1211--[REMOVED AND RESERVED]

0
9. Remove and reserve part 1211.

PART 1216--NONDISPLACEMENT OF EMPLOYED WORKERS AND NONIMPAIRMENT OF 
CONTRACTS FOR SERVICE

0
10. The authority citation for part 1216 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 5044(a).


0
11. Revise Sec.  1216.1-1 to read as follows:


Sec.  1216.1-1  Purpose.

    This part establishes rules to assure that the services of 
volunteers in the Foster Grandparent Program, the Senior Companion 
Program, and The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), are 
limited to activities which would not otherwise be performed by 
employed workers and which will not supplant the hiring of, or result 
in the displacement of employed workers or impair existing contracts 
for service. This part implements section 404(a) of the Domestic 
Volunteer Service Act of 1973, Public Law 93-113 (the ``Act'').

0
12. In Sec.  1216.1-2, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:

[[Page 63458]]

Sec.  1216.1-2  Applicability of this part.

    (a) All volunteers in either the Foster Grandparent Program, the 
Senior Companion Program, or The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program 
(RSVP), who are assigned, referred or serving pursuant to grants, 
contracts, or agreements made pursuant to the Act.
* * * * *

PART 1217--[REMOVED AND RESERVED]

0
13. Remove and reserve part 1217.

PART 1218--[REMOVED AND RESERVED]

0
14. Remove and reserve part 1218.

PART 1219--[REMOVED AND RESERVED]

0
15. Remove and reserve part 1219.

PART 1220--PAYMENT OF VOLUNTEER LEGAL EXPENSES

0
16. The authority citation for part 1220 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 5059.


0
17. Revise Sec.  1220.1-1 to read as follows:


Sec.  1220.1-1  Purpose.

    This part implements section 419 of the Domestic Volunteer Service 
Act of 1973, Public Law 93-113 (the ``Act''). This part provides rules 
to ensure that the Corporation for National and Community Service, 
which administers the three federal programs, the Foster Grandparent 
Program (FGP), the Senior Companion Program (SCP), and The Retired and 
Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), pays the expenses incurred in judicial 
and administrative proceedings for the defense of those volunteers 
serving in those programs. Payment of such expenses by CNCS for those 
volunteers include payment of counsel fees, court costs, bail or other 
expenses incidental to the volunteer's defense.

0
18. In Sec.  1220.2-1, revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (c) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  1220.2-1  Full-time volunteers.

    (a)(1) The Corporation for National and Community Service will pay 
all reasonable expenses for defense of full-time volunteers up to and 
including the arraignment of Federal, state, and local criminal 
proceedings, except in cases where it is clear that the charged offense 
results from conduct which is not related to his service as a 
volunteer.
* * * * *
    (c) Notwithstanding the foregoing, there may be situations in which 
the criminal proceeding results from a situation which could give rise 
to a civil claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act. In such situations, 
the Justice Department may agree to defend the volunteer. In those 
cases, unless there is a conflict between the volunteer's interest and 
that of the government, the Corporation for National and Community 
Service will not pay for additional private representation for the 
volunteer.

0
19. In Sec.  1220.2-2, revise paragraph (a) introductory text, (a)(2), 
and (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  1220.2-2  Part-time volunteers.

    (a) With respect to a part-time volunteer, the Corporation for 
National and Community Service will reimburse a sponsor for the 
reasonable expense it incurs for the defense of the volunteer in 
Federal, state and local criminal proceedings, including arraignment, 
only under the following circumstances:
* * * * *
    (2) The volunteer receives, or is eligible to receive, 
compensation, including allowances, stipend, or reimbursement for out-
of-pocket expenses, under a Corporation for National and Community 
Service grant project; and
* * * * *
    (b) In certain circumstances volunteers who are ineligible for 
reimbursement of legal expenses by the Corporation for National and 
Community Service may be eligible for representation under the Criminal 
Justice Act (18 U.S.C. 3006A).

0
20. In Sec.  1220.2-3, revise paragraphs (a), (b), and (d) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  1220.2-3  Procedure.

    (a) Immediately upon the arrest of any volunteer under 
circumstances in which the payment or bail to prevent incarceration or 
other serious consequences to the volunteer or the retention of an 
attorney prior to arraignment is necessary and is covered under Sec.  
1220.2-1 or Sec.  1220.2-2, sponsors shall immediately notify the 
appropriate Corporation for National and Community Service state office 
or if the state office cannot be reached, the appropriate Area Manager.
    (b) Immediately after notification of the appropriate state office, 
and with the approval thereof, the sponsor shall advance up to $500 for 
the payment of bail or such other legal expenses as are necessary prior 
to arraignment to prevent the volunteer from being incarcerated. In the 
event it is subsequently determined that the Corporation for National 
and Community Service or a sponsor is not responsible under this policy 
for the volunteer's defense, any such advance may be recovered directly 
from the volunteer or from allowances, stipends, or out-of-pocket 
expenses which are payable or become payable to the volunteer. In the 
case of a grassroots sponsor of full-time volunteers that is not able 
to provide the $500, the Corporation for National and Community Service 
state office or Area Manager shall immediately make such sum available 
to the sponsor.
* * * * *
    (d) The General Counsel shall, upon notification by the state 
office or Area Manager, determine the extent to which the Corporation 
for National and Community Service will provide funds for the 
volunteer's defense or reimburse a sponsor for funds it spends on the 
volunteer's behalf. Included in this responsibility shall be the 
negotiation of fees and approval of other costs and expenses. State 
offices and Area Managers are not authorized to commit the Corporation 
for National and Community Service to the payment of volunteers' legal 
expenses or to reimburse a sponsor except as provided in this section, 
without the express consent of the General Counsel. Additionally, the 
General Counsel shall, in cases arising directly out of the performance 
of authorized project activities, ascertain whether the services of the 
United States Attorney can be made available to the volunteer.
* * * * *

0
21. In Sec.  1220.3-1, revise the introductory text and paragraph (a) 
to read as follows:


Sec.  1220.3-1  Full-time volunteers.

    The Corporation for National and Community Service will pay 
reasonable expenses incurred in the defense of full-time volunteers in 
Federal, state, and local civil judicial and administrative proceedings 
where:
    (a) The complaint or charge against the volunteer is directly 
related to his volunteer service and not to his personal activities or 
obligations.
* * * * *

0
22. Revise Sec.  1220.3-2 as follows:


Sec.  1220.3-2  Part-time volunteers.

    The Corporation for National and Community Service will reimburse 
sponsors for the reasonable expenses incidental to the defense of part-
time volunteers in Federal, state, and local civil judicial and 
administrative proceedings where:

[[Page 63459]]

    (a) The proceeding arises directly out of the volunteer's 
performance of activities pursuant to the Act;
    (b) The volunteer receives or is eligible to receive compensation, 
including allowances, stipend, or reimbursement for out-of-pocket 
expenses under the Corporation for National and Community Service 
grant; and
    (c) The conditions specified in Sec.  1220.3-1(b) and (c) are met.

0
23. Revise Sec.  1220.3-3 as follows:


Sec.  1220.3-3  Procedure.

    Immediately upon the receipt by a volunteer of any court papers or 
administrative orders making a party to any proceeding covered under 
Sec.  1220.3-1 or Sec.  1220.3-2, the volunteer shall immediately 
notify his sponsor who in turn shall notify the appropriate Corporation 
for National and Community Service state office. The procedures 
referred to in Sec.  1220.2-3(c) through (e) shall thereafter be 
followed as appropriate.

PART 1222--[REMOVED AND RESERVED]

0
24. Remove and reserve part 1222.

PART 1226--PROHIBITIONS ON ELECTORAL AND LOBBYING ACTIVITIES

0
25. The authority citation for part 1226 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 5043.


0
26. Revise Sec.  1226.1 to read as follows:


Sec.  1226.1  Purpose.

    This part implements sections 403(a) and (b) of the Domestic 
Volunteer Service Act of 1973, Public Law 93-113, as amended, 
hereinafter referred to as the Act, pertaining to the prohibited use of 
Federal funds or involvement by certain Corporation for National and 
Community Service programs and volunteers in electoral and lobbying 
activities. This part implements those provisions of the Act, as they 
apply to agency programs and volunteers authorized under title II of 
the Act.

0
27. Revise Sec.  1226.2 to read as follows:


Sec.  1226.2  Scope.

    This part applies to all volunteers serving in a program authorized 
by title II of the Act, including the Foster Grandparent Program, the 
Senior Companion Program, and The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program 
(RSVP). This part also applies to employees or sponsoring 
organizations, whose salaries, or other compensation, are paid, in 
whole or in part, with agency funds.

0
28. In Sec.  1226.7, revise the introductory text and paragraph (a) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  1226.7  Scope.

    The provisions in this subpart are applicable to full time 
volunteers as described in Sec.  1226.3(c), and to such part-time 
volunteers as may be otherwise specified herein. Full time volunteers 
are deemed to be acting in their capacity as volunteers:
    (a) When they are actually engaged in their volunteer assignments; 
or
* * * * *


Sec. Sec.  1226.10 and 1226.11  [Removed]

0
29. Remove Sec. Sec.  1226.10 and 1226.11.


Sec. Sec.  1226.12 and 1226.13  [Redesignated as Sec. Sec.  1226.10 and 
1226.11]

0
30. Redesignate Sec. Sec.  1226.12 and 1226.13 as Sec. Sec.  1226.10 
and 1226.11, respectively, and assign them to subpart D.

0
31. Revise newly redesignated Sec.  1226.10 to read as follows:


Sec.  1226.10  Sponsor employees.

    Sponsor employees whose salaries or other compensation are paid, in 
whole or in part, with agency funds are subject to the restrictions 
described in Sec.  1226.8 and the exceptions in Sec.  1226.9:
    (a) Whenever they are engaged in an activity which is supported by 
Corporation for National and Community Service funds; or
    (b) Whenever they identify themselves as acting in their capacity 
as an official of a project which receives Corporation for National and 
Community Service funds, or could reasonably be perceived by others as 
acting in such capacity.

0
32. Add part 2556 to read as follows:

PART 2556--VOLUNTEERS IN SERVICE TO AMERICA

Subpart A--General Information
Sec.
2556.1 What is the purpose of the VISTA program?
2556.3 Who should read this part?
2556.5 What definitions apply in this part?
2556.7 Are waivers of the regulations in this part allowed?
Subpart B--VISTA Sponsors
2556.100 Which entities are eligible to apply to become VISTA 
sponsors?
2556.105 Which entities are prohibited from being VISTA sponsors?
2556.110 What VISTA assistance is available to a sponsor?
2556.115 Is a VISTA sponsor required to provide a cash or in-kind 
match?
2556.120 How does a VISTA sponsor ensure the participation of people 
in the communities to be served?
2556.125 May CNCS deny or reduce VISTA assistance to an existing 
VISTA project?
2556.130 What is the procedure for denial or reduction of VISTA 
assistance to an existing VISTA project?
2556.135 What is suspension and when may CNCS suspend a VISTA 
project?
2556.140 What is termination and when may CNCS terminate a VISTA 
project?
2556.145 May CNCS pursue other remedies against a VISTA project for 
a sponsor's material failure to comply with any other requirement 
not set forth in this subpart?
2556.150 What activities are VISTA members not permitted to perform 
as part of service?
2556.155 May a sponsor manage a project through a subrecipient?
2556.160 What are the sponsor's requirements for cost share 
projects?
2556.165 What Fair Labor Standards apply to VISTA sponsors and 
subrecipients?
2556.170 What nondiscrimination requirements apply to sponsors and 
subrecipients?
2556.175 What limitations are VISTA sponsors subject to regarding 
religious activities?
Subpart C--VISTA Members
2556.200 Who may apply to serve as a VISTA?
2556.205 What commitments and agreements must an individual make to 
serve in the VISTA program?
2556.210 Who reviews and approves an application for VISTA service?
Subpart D--Terms, Protections, and Benefits of VISTA Members
2556.300 Is a VISTA considered a Federal employee and is a VISTA 
considered an employee of the sponsor?
2556.305 What is the duration and scope of service for a VISTA?
2556.310 What are the lines of supervision or oversight of a VISTA, 
a VISTA sponsor, and CNCS during a VISTA's term of service?
2556.315 What are terms and conditions for official travel for a 
VISTA?
2556.320 What benefits may a VISTA receive during VISTA service?
2556.325 May a VISTA be provided coverage for legal defense expenses 
related to VISTA service?
2556.330 When may a VISTA be provided coverage for legal defense 
expenses related to criminal proceedings?
2556.335 When may a VISTA be provided coverage for legal defense 
expenses related to civil or administrative proceedings?
2556. 340 What is non-competitive eligibility and who is eligible 
for it?
2556.345 Who may present a grievance?
2556.350 What matters are considered grievances?
2556.355 May a VISTA have access to records as part of the VISTA 
grievance procedure?
2556.360 How may a VISTA bring a grievance?

[[Page 63460]]

2556.365 May a VISTA appeal a grievance?
Subpart E--Termination for Cause Procedures
2556.400 What is termination for cause and what are the criteria for 
termination for cause?
2556.405 Who has sole authority to remove a VISTA from a VISTA 
project and who has sole authority to terminate a VISTA from a VISTA 
project or the VISTA program?
2556.410 May a sponsor request that a VISTA be removed from its 
project?
2556.415 May CNCS remove a VISTA from a project without the 
sponsor's request for removal?
2556.420 What are termination for cause proceedings?
2556.425 May a VISTA appeal his or her termination for cause?
2556.430 Is a VISTA who is terminated early from the VISTA program 
for other than cause entitled to appeal under these procedures?
Subpart F--Summer Associates
2556.500 How is a position for a summer associate established in a 
project?
2556.505 How do summer associates differ from other VISTAs?
Subpart G--VISTA Leaders
2556.600 How is a position for a leader established in a project, or 
in multiple projects within a contiguous geographic region?
2556.605 Who is eligible to apply to serve as a leader?
2556.610 What is the application process to apply to become a 
leader?
2556.615 Who reviews a leader application and who approves or 
disapproves a leader application?
2556.620 How does a leader differ from other VISTAs?
2556.625 What are terms and conditions of service for a leader?
Subpart H--Restrictions and Prohibitions on Political Activities and 
Lobbying
2556.700 Who is covered by this subpart?
2556.705 What is prohibited political activity?
2556.710 What political activities are VISTAs prohibited from 
engaging in?
2556.715 What political activities may a VISTA participate in?
2556.720 May VISTAs participate in political organizations?
2556.725 May VISTAs participate in political campaigns?
2556.730 May VISTAs participate in elections?
2556.735 May a VISTA be a candidate for public office?
2556.740 May VISTAs participate in political fundraising activities?
2556.745 Are VISTAs prohibited from soliciting or discouraging the 
political participation of certain individuals?
2556.750 What restrictions and prohibitions are VISTAs subject to 
who campaign for a spouse or family member?
2556.755 May VISTAs participate in lawful demonstrations?
2556.760 May a sponsor or subrecipient approve the participation of 
a VISTA in a demonstration or other political meeting?
2556.765 What disciplinary actions are VISTAs subject to for 
violating restrictions or prohibitions on political activities?
2556.770 What are the requirements of VISTA sponsors or 
subrecipients regarding political activities?
2556.775 What prohibitions and restrictions on political activity 
apply to employees of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients?
2556.780 What prohibitions on lobbying activities apply to VISTA 
sponsors and subrecipients?

Subpart A--General Information

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4951-4953; 5 CFR part 734.


Sec.  2556.1  What is the purpose of the VISTA program?

    (a) The purpose of the VISTA program is to strengthen and 
supplement efforts to eliminate and alleviate poverty and poverty-
related problems throughout the United States and certain U.S. 
territories. To effect this purpose, the VISTA program encourages and 
enables individuals from all walks of life to join VISTA to perform, on 
a full-time basis, meaningful and constructive service to assist in the 
solution of poverty and poverty-related problems and secure 
opportunities for self-advancement of persons afflicted by such 
problems.
    (b) The VISTA program objectives are to:
    (1) Generate private sector resources;
    (2) Encourage volunteer service at the local level;
    (3) Support efforts by local agencies and community organizations 
to achieve long-term sustainability of projects; and
    (4) Strengthen local agencies and community organizations to carry 
out the purpose of the VISTA program.


Sec.  2556.3  Who should read this part?

    This part may be of interest to:
    (a) Private nonprofit organizations, public nonprofit 
organizations, state government agencies, local government agencies, 
federal agencies, and tribal government agencies who are participating 
in the VISTA program as sponsors, or who are interested in 
participating in the VISTA program as sponsors.
    (b) Individuals 18 and older who are serving as a VISTA, or who are 
interested in serving as a VISTA.


Sec.  2556.5  What definitions apply in this part?

    Act or DVSA means the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as 
amended, Public Law 93-113 (42 U.S.C. 4951 et seq.).
    Alternative oath or affirmation means a pledge of VISTA service 
taken by an individual who legally resides within a State, but who is 
not a citizen or national of the United States, upon that individual's 
enrollment into the VISTA program as a VISTA.
    Applicant for VISTA service means an individual who is in the 
process of completing, or has completed, an application for VISTA 
service as prescribed by CNCS, but who has been not been approved by 
CNCS to be a candidate.
    Application for VISTA service means the materials prescribed by 
CNCS to ascertain information on an individual's eligibility and 
suitability for VISTA service.
    Area Manager means a CNCS official who is head of a designated, 
regional set, or cluster of CNCS State Offices, or equivalent CNCS 
official.
    Assistance means VISTAs, leaders, or summer associates. 
``Assistance'' also means technical assistance or training of VISTAs, 
leaders, summer associates, candidates, sponsors, or supervisors that 
are provided from funds appropriated by Congress for the purpose of 
supporting activities under the DVSA. ``Assistance'' also means grant 
funds.
    Candidate, when used in the context of an individual who has 
applied for VISTA service, means an individual whose application for 
VISTA service has been approved by CNCS, but who has not taken an oath, 
alternative oath or affirmation to serve in the VISTA program. 
Candidates may include those who were enrolled in the VISTA program at 
a prior time.
    Cost share means when an entity, such as a VISTA sponsor, 
reimburses CNCS part or all of the expenses associated with the 
operation of a VISTA project, such as the costs for one or more VISTAs, 
leaders, or summer associates placed in a VISTA project.
    CNCS means the Corporation for National and Community Service, 
established pursuant to section 191 of the National and Community 
Service Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 12651. CNCS is also 
sometimes referred to as ``the Corporation.''
    Education award or Segal AmeriCorps Education Award means an end-
of-service monetary benefit from CNCS's National Service Trust that is 
directed to designated educational institutions and is awarded to 
certain qualifying VISTAs who successfully complete an established term 
of VISTA service.
    Enroll, enrolled, or enrollment, when used in the context of VISTA 
service, refers to the status of an individual admitted to serve in the 
VISTA program. The enrollment period commences

[[Page 63461]]

when the Oath to serve in the VISTA program is taken by the candidate 
and ends upon termination from a term of service in the VISTA program. 
The enrollment period may commence on a date earlier than the first day 
of a service assignment of an enrolled VISTA member.
    Full-time, when used in the context of VISTA service means service 
in which a VISTA, leader, or summer associate remains available for 
service without regard to regular working hours.
    Leader, a leader, or a VISTA leader means a VISTA member who is 
enrolled for full-time VISTA service, and who is also subject to the 
terms of subpart G of this part.
    Living allowance or living allowance payment means a monetary 
benefit paid for subsistence purposes to a VISTA member during VISTA 
service.
    Memorandum of Agreement means a written agreement between CNCS and 
a sponsor regarding the terms of the sponsor's involvement and 
responsibilities in the VISTA program.
    Nonpartisan election means:
    (1) An election in which none of the candidates is to be nominated 
or elected as representing a political party any of whose candidates 
for Presidential elector received votes in the last preceding election 
at which Presidential electors were selected; or
    (2) An election involving a question or issue which is not 
specifically identified with a political party, such as a 
constitutional amendment, referendum, approval of a municipal 
ordinance, or any question or issue of a similar character.
    Oath means an avowal to VISTA service, taken in accordance with 5 
U.S.C. 3331, by an individual who is a U.S. citizen or national. The 
taking of the Oath effects an individual's enrollment into the VISTA 
program.
    On-duty or during service time means when a VISTA is either 
performing VISTA service or scheduled to do so.
    Project or VISTA project means a set of VISTA activities operated 
and overseen by, and the responsibility of, a sponsor, and assisted 
under this Part to realize the goals of title I of the DVSA.
    Project applicant or VISTA project applicant means an entity that 
submits an application to CNCS to operate, oversee, and be responsible 
for a VISTA project.
    Project application or VISTA project application means the 
application materials prescribed by CNCS to ascertain information on an 
applying entity's eligibility and suitability to operate, oversee, and 
be responsible for, a VISTA project.
    Project director or VISTA project director means a staff person, of 
legal age, of the sponsor, who has been assigned by the sponsor the 
overall responsibility for the management of the VISTA project.
    Sponsor, VISTA sponsor, or VISTA project sponsor means a public 
agency or private non-profit organization that receives assistance 
under title I of the DVSA, and is responsible for operating and 
overseeing a VISTA project. A public agency may be a federal, state, 
local or tribal government.
    State, when used as a noun, means one of the several states in the 
United States of America, District of Columbia, Virgin Islands, Puerto 
Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern 
Mariana Islands.
    State Program Director means a CNCS official who reports to an Area 
Manager or equivalent CNCS official, and who is the head of a CNCS 
State Office.
    Stipend or end-of-service stipend means an end-of-service lump-sum 
monetary benefit from CNCS that is awarded to certain qualifying 
VISTAs, who successfully complete an established term of VISTA service.
    Subrecipient means a public agency or private non-profit 
organization that enters into an agreement with a VISTA sponsor to 
receive one or more VISTAs, and to carry out a set of activities, 
assisted under this Part, to realize the goals of title I of the DVSA. 
A public agency may be a federal, state, local or tribal government.
    Summer associate means a VISTA member who is enrolled for VISTA 
service, during a period between May 1 and September 15, and who is 
also subject to the terms of subpart H of this part. A summer associate 
must be available to provide continuous full-time service for a period 
of at least eight weeks and a maximum of ten weeks.
    Supervisor or VISTA Supervisor means a staff member, of legal age, 
of the sponsor or a subrecipient, who has been assigned by the sponsor 
or the subrecipient, the responsibility for the day-to-day oversight of 
one or more VISTAs.
    Tribe means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized 
group or community, including any Alaskan native village or regional 
village corporation as defined in or established pursuant to the Alaska 
Native Claims Settlement Act, which is recognized by the United States 
or the State in which it resides as eligible for special programs and 
services provided to Indians because of their status as Indians.
    VISTA member, a VISTA, or the VISTA means an individual enrolled 
full-time for VISTA service in the VISTA program, as authorized under 
title I of the DVSA.
    VISTA program means the Federal government program named Volunteers 
in Service to America and authorized under title I of the Domestic 
Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 4950 et seq.
    VISTA service means VISTA service activities performed by a VISTA 
member while enrolled in the VISTA program.


Sec.  2556.7  Are waivers of the regulations in this part allowed?

    Upon a determination of good cause, the Chief Executive Officer of 
CNCS may, subject to statutory limitations, waive any provisions of 
this part.

Subpart B--VISTA Sponsors

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4953(a), (f), 4954(b), (e), 4955(b), 4956, 
5043(a)-(c), 5044(a)-(c), (e), 5046, 5052, 5056, and 5057; 42 U.S.C. 
12651b (g)(10); E.O. 13279, 67 FR 77141, 3 CFR, 2002 Comp., p. 2156.


Sec.  2556.100  Which entities are eligible to apply to become VISTA 
sponsors?

    The following entities are eligible to apply to become VISTA 
sponsors, and thereby undertake projects in the U.S. and certain U.S. 
territories:
    (a) Private nonprofit organization.
    (b) Public nonprofit organization.
    (c) State government or state government agency.
    (d) Local government or local government agency.
    (e) Tribal government or tribal government agency.


Sec.  2556.105  Which entities are prohibited from being VISTA 
sponsors?

    (a) An entity is prohibited from being a VISTA sponsor or from 
otherwise receiving VISTA assistance if a principal purpose or activity 
of the entity includes any of the following:
    (1) Electoral activities. Any activity designed to influence the 
outcome of elections to any public office, such as actively campaigning 
for or against, or supporting, candidates for public office; raising, 
soliciting, or collecting funds for candidates for public office; or 
preparing, distributing, providing funds for campaign literature for 
candidates, including leaflets, pamphlets, and material designed for 
the print or electronic media.
    (2) Voter registration activities. Any voter registration activity, 
such as providing transportation of individuals to voter registration 
sites; providing assistance to individuals in the process of 
registering to vote, including determinations of eligibility; or

[[Page 63462]]

disseminating official voter registration material.
    (3) Transportation to the polls. Providing voters or prospective 
voters with transportation to the polls or raising, soliciting, or 
collecting funds for such activities.
    (b) Any organization that, subsequent to the receipt of VISTA 
assistance, makes as one of its principal purposes or activities any of 
the activities described in paragraph (a) of this section shall be 
subject to the procedures in Sec. Sec.  2556.125 through 2556.145.


Sec.  2556.110  What VISTA assistance is available to a sponsor?

    (a) A sponsor may be approved for one or more VISTA positions.
    (b) A sponsor, upon review and approval by CNCS to establish a 
leader position or positions, and in accordance with criteria set forth 
at subpart G of this part, may be approved for one or more leader 
positions.
    (c) A sponsor, upon approval by CNCS to establish a summer 
associate position or positions, and in accordance with criteria set 
forth at subpart F of this part, may be approved for one or more summer 
associate positions.
    (d) A sponsor may be eligible to receive certain grant assistance 
under the terms determined and prescribed by CNCS.
    (e) A sponsor may receive training and technical assistance related 
to carrying out purposes of title I of the DVSA.


Sec.  2556.115  Is a VISTA sponsor required to provide a cash or in-
kind match?

    (a) A sponsor is not required to provide a cash match for any of 
the assistance listed in Sec.  2556.110.
    (b) A sponsor must provide supervision, work space, service-related 
transportation, and any other materials necessary to operate and 
complete the VISTA project and support the VISTA.


Sec.  2556.120  How does a VISTA sponsor ensure the participation of 
people in the communities to be served?

    (a) To the maximum extent practicable, the people of the 
communities to be served by VISTA members shall participate in 
planning, developing, and implementing programs.
    (b) The sponsor shall articulate in its project application how it 
will engage or continue to engage relevant communities in the 
development and implementation of programs.


Sec.  2556.125  May CNCS deny or reduce VISTA assistance to an existing 
VISTA project?

    (a) CNCS may deny or reduce VISTA assistance where a denial or 
reduction is based on:
    (1) Legislative requirement;
    (2) Availability of funding;
    (3) Failure to comply with applicable term(s) or condition(s) of a 
contract, grant agreement, or an applicable Memorandum of Agreement;
    (4) Ineffective management of CNCS resources;
    (5) Substantial failure to comply with CNCS policy and overall 
objectives under a contract, grant agreement, or applicable Memorandum 
of Agreement; or
    (6) General policy.
    (b) In instances where the basis for denial or reduction of VISTA 
assistance may also be the basis for the suspension or termination of a 
VISTA project under this subpart, CNCS shall not be limited to the use 
of this section to the exclusion of the procedures for suspension or 
termination in this subpart.


Sec.  2556.130  What is the procedure for denial or reduction of VISTA 
assistance to an existing VISTA project?

    (a) CNCS shall notify the sponsor in writing, at least 75 calendar 
days before the anticipated denial or reduction of VISTA assistance, 
that CNCS proposes to deny or reduce VISTA assistance. CNCS's written 
notice shall state the reasons for the decision to deny or reduce 
assistance and shall provide an opportunity period for the sponsor to 
respond to the merits of the proposed decision. CNCS retains sole 
authority to make the final determination whether the VISTA assistance 
at issue shall be denied or reduced, as appropriate.
    (b) Where CNCS's notice of proposed decision is based upon a 
specific charge of the sponsor's failure to comply with the applicable 
term(s) or condition(s) of a contract, grant agreement, or an 
applicable Memorandum of Agreement, the notice shall offer the sponsor 
an opportunity period to respond in writing to the notice, with any 
affidavits or other supporting documentation, and to request an 
informal hearing before a mutually agreed-upon impartial hearing 
officer. The authority of such a hearing officer shall be limited to 
conducting the hearing and offering recommendations to CNCS. Regardless 
of whether or not an informal hearing takes place, CNCS shall retain 
full authority to make the final determination whether the VISTA 
assistance is denied or reduced, as appropriate.
    (c) If the recipient requests an informal hearing, in accordance 
with paragraph (b) of this section, such hearing shall be held at a 
date specified by CNCS and held at a location convenient to the 
sponsor.
    (d) If CNCS's proposed decision is based on ineffective management 
of resources, or on the substantial failure to comply with CNCS policy 
and overall objectives under a contract, grant agreement, or an 
applicable Memorandum of Agreement, CNCS shall inform the sponsor in 
the notice of proposed decision of the opportunity to show cause why 
VISTA assistance should not be denied or reduced, as appropriate. CNCS 
shall retain full authority to make the final determination whether the 
VISTA assistance at issue shall be denied or reduced, as appropriate.
    (e) The recipient shall be informed of CNCS's final determination 
on whether the VISTA assistance at issue shall be denied or reduced, 
and the basis for the determination.
    (f) The procedure in this section does not apply to a denial or 
reduction of VISTA assistance based on legislative requirements, 
availability of funding, or on general policy.


Sec.  2556.135  What is suspension and when may CNCS suspend a VISTA 
project?

    (a) Suspension is any action by CNCS temporarily suspending or 
curtailing assistance, in whole or in part, to all or any part of a 
VISTA project, prior to the time that the project term is concluded. 
Suspension does not include the denial or reduction of new or 
additional VISTA assistance.
    (b) In an emergency situation for up to 30 consecutive days, CNCS 
may suspend assistance to a sponsor, in whole or in part, for the 
sponsor's material failure or threatened material failure to comply 
with an applicable term(s) or condition(s) of the DVSA, the regulations 
in this part, VISTA program policy, or an applicable Memorandum of 
Agreement. Such suspension in an emergency situation shall be pursuant 
to notice and opportunity to show cause why assistance should not be 
suspended.
    (c) To initiate suspension proceedings, CNCS shall notify the 
sponsor in writing that CNCS is suspending assistance in whole or in 
part. The written notice shall contain the following:
    (1) The grounds for the suspension and the effective date of the 
commencement of the suspension;
    (2) The sponsor's right to submit written material in response to 
the suspension to show why the VISTA

[[Page 63463]]

assistance should not be suspended, or should be reinstated, as 
appropriate; and
    (3) The opportunity to adequately correct the deficiency, or 
deficiencies, which led to CNCS's notice of suspension.
    (d) In deciding whether to continue or lift the suspension, as 
appropriate, CNCS shall consider any timely material presented in 
writing, any material presented during the course of any informal 
meeting, as well as any showing that the sponsor has adequately 
corrected the deficiency which led to the initiation of suspension.
    (e) During the period of suspension of a sponsor, no new 
expenditures, if applicable, shall be made by the sponsor's VISTA 
project at issue and no new obligations shall be incurred in connection 
with the VISTA project at issue except as specifically authorized in 
writing by CNCS.
    (f) CNCS may, in its discretion, modify the terms, conditions, and 
nature of the suspension or rescind the suspension action at any time 
on its own initiative or upon a showing that the sponsor has adequately 
corrected the deficiency or deficiencies which led to the suspension 
and that repetition is not foreseeable.


Sec.  2556.140  What is termination and when may CNCS terminate a VISTA 
project?

    (a) Termination means any action by CNCS permanently terminating or 
curtailing assistance to all or any part of a sponsor's VISTA project 
prior to the time that the project term is concluded.
    (b) CNCS may terminate assistance to a sponsor in whole or in part 
for the sponsor's material failure to comply with an applicable term(s) 
or condition(s) of the DVSA, the regulations in this part, VISTA 
program policy, or an applicable Memorandum of Agreement.
    (c) To initiate termination proceedings, CNCS shall notify the 
sponsor in writing that CNCS is proposing to terminate assistance in 
whole or in part. The written notice shall contain the following:
    (1) A description of the VISTA assistance proposed for termination, 
the grounds that warrant such proposed termination, and the proposed 
date of effective termination;
    (2) Instructions regarding the sponsor's opportunity, within 21 
calendar days from the date of issuance of the notice, to respond in 
writing to the merits of the proposed termination and instructions 
regarding the sponsor's right to request a full and fair hearing before 
a mutually agreed-upon impartial hearing officer; and
    (3) Invitation of voluntary action by the sponsor to adequately 
correct the deficiency or deficiencies which led to CNCS's notice of 
proposed termination.
    (d) In deciding whether to effect termination of VISTA assistance, 
CNCS shall consider any relevant, timely material presented in writing; 
any relevant material presented during the course of any full and fair 
hearing; as well as, any showing that the sponsor has adequately 
corrected the deficiency which led to the initiation of termination 
proceedings.
    (e) Regardless of whether or not a full and fair hearing takes 
place, CNCS shall retain all authority to make the final determination 
as to whether the termination of VISTA assistance is appropriate.
    (f) The sponsor shall be informed of CNCS's final determination on 
the proposed termination of VISTA assistance, and the basis or bases 
for the determination.
    (g) CNCS may, in its discretion, modify the terms, conditions, and 
nature of a termination action or rescind a termination action at any 
time on its own initiative or upon a showing that the sponsor has 
adequately corrected the deficiency which led to the termination, or 
the initiation of termination proceedings, and that repetition is not 
threatened.


Sec.  2556.145  May CNCS pursue other remedies against a VISTA project 
for a sponsor's material failure to comply with any other requirement 
not set forth in this subpart?

    The procedures established by this subpart shall not preclude CNCS 
from pursuing any other remedies authorized by law.


Sec.  2556.150  What activities are VISTA members not permitted to 
perform as part of service?

    (a) A VISTA may not perform any activities in the project 
application that do not correspond with the purpose of the VISTA 
program, as described in Sec.  2556.1, or that the Director has 
otherwise prohibited.
    (b) A VISTA may not perform services or duties as a VISTA member 
that would otherwise be performed by employed workers or other 
volunteers (not including participants under the DVSA and the National 
and Community Service Act of 1990, as amended).
    (c) A VISTA may not perform any services or duties, or engage in 
activities as a VISTA member, that supplant the hiring of or result in 
the displacement of employed workers or other volunteers (not including 
participants under the DVSA or the National and Community Service Act 
of 1990, as amended).
    (d) A VISTA may not perform any services or duties, or engage in 
activities as a VISTA member, which impair existing contracts for 
service.
    (e) The requirements of paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section 
do not apply when the sponsor requires the service in order to avoid or 
relieve suffering threatened by, or resulting from, a disaster, civil 
disturbance, terrorism, or war.
    (f) A sponsor or subrecipient shall not request or receive any 
compensation from a VISTA; from a beneficiary of VISTA project 
services; or any other source for services of a VISTA.


Sec.  2556.155  May a sponsor manage a VISTA project through a 
subrecipient?

    (a) A sponsor may carry out a VISTA project through one or more 
subrecipients that meet the eligibility criteria of Sec.  2556.100.
    (b) The sponsor must enter into a subrecipient agreement with each 
subrecipient. A subrecipient agreement must have at least the following 
elements:
    (1) A project plan to be implemented by the subrecipient;
    (2) Records to be kept and reports to be submitted;
    (3) Responsibilities of the parties and other program requirements; 
and
    (4) Suspension and termination policies and procedures.
    (c) The sponsor retains the responsibility for compliance with a 
Memorandum of Agreement; the applicable regulations in this Part; and 
all applicable policies, procedures, and guidance issued by CNCS 
regarding the VISTA program.
    (d) A sponsor shall not request or receive any compensation from a 
subrecipient for services performed by a VISTA.
    (e) A sponsor shall not receive payment from, or on behalf of, the 
subrecipient for costs of the VISTA assistance, except in two limited 
circumstances:
    (1) For reasonable and actual costs incurred by the sponsor 
directly related to the subrecipient's participation in a VISTA 
project; and
    (2) For any cost share related to a VISTA placed with the 
subrecipient in the VISTA project.


Sec.  2556.160  What are the sponsor's requirements for cost share 
projects?

    (a) A sponsor shall enter into a written agreement for cost share 
as prescribed by CNCS.
    (b) A sponsor shall make timely cost share payments as prescribed 
by CNCS and applicable federal law and regulations.

[[Page 63464]]

    (c) In addition to other sources of funds, a sponsor may use funds 
from federal, state, or local government agencies, provided the 
requirements of those agencies and their programs are met.
    (d) Subject to review and approval by CNCS, CNCS may enter into an 
agreement with another entity to receive and utilize funds to make cost 
share payments on behalf of the sponsor.


Sec.  2556.165  What Fair Labor Standards apply to VISTA sponsors and 
subrecipients?

    All sponsors and subrecipients that employ laborers and mechanics 
for construction, alteration, or repair of facilities shall pay wages 
at prevailing rates as determined by the Secretary of Labor in 
accordance with the Davis-Bacon Act, as amended, 40 U.S.C. 276a.


Sec.  2556.170  What nondiscrimination requirements apply to sponsors 
and subrecipients?

    (a) An individual with responsibility for the operation of a 
project that receives CNCS assistance must not discriminate against a 
participant in, or member of the staff of, such project on the basis of 
race, color, national origin, sex, age, or political affiliation of 
such participant or staff member, or on the basis of disability, if the 
participant or staff member is a qualified individual with a 
disability.
    (b) Any CNCS assistance constitutes Federal financial assistance 
for purposes of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 
2000d et seq.), title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 
1681 et seq.), section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 
794), and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (42 U.S.C. 6101 et seq.), 
and constitutes Federal financial assistance to an education program or 
activity for purposes of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 
1681 et seq.).
    (c) An individual with responsibility for the operation of a 
project that receives CNCS assistance may not discriminate on the basis 
of religion against a participant in such project or a member of the 
staff of such project who is paid with CNCS funds. This provision does 
not apply to the employment (with CNCS assistance) of any staff member 
of a CNCS-supported project who was employed with the organization 
operating the project on the date the CNCS assistance was awarded.
    (d) Sponsors must notify all program participants, staff, 
applicants, and beneficiaries of:
    (1) Their rights under applicable federal nondiscrimination laws, 
including relevant provisions of the national service legislation and 
implementing regulations; and
    (2) The procedure for filing a discrimination complaint. No sponsor 
or subrecipient, or sponsor or subrecipient employee, or individual 
with responsibility for the implementation or operation of a sponsor or 
a subrecipient, shall discriminate against a VISTA on the basis of 
race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, or political 
affiliation. No sponsor or subrecipient, or sponsor or subrecipient 
employee, or individual with responsibility for the implementation or 
operation of a sponsor or a subrecipient, shall discriminate against a 
VISTA on the basis of disability, if the VISTA is a qualified 
individual with a disability.


Sec.  2556.175  What limitations are VISTA sponsors subject to 
regarding religious activities?

    (a) A VISTA shall not give religious instruction, conduct worship 
services or engage in any form of proselytizing as part of his or her 
duties.
    (b) A sponsor or subrecipient may retain its independence and may 
continue to carry out its mission, including the definition, 
development, practice, and expression of its religious beliefs, 
provided that it does not use any CNCS assistance, including the 
services of any VISTA or VISTA assistance, to support any inherently 
religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction, or 
proselytizing, as part of the programs or services assisted by the 
VISTA program. If a VISTA sponsor or subrecipient conducts such 
inherently religious activities, the activities must be offered 
separately, in time or location, from the programs or services assisted 
under this Part by the VISTA program.

Subpart C--VISTA Members

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4953(b)(3), (f), 4954(a)-(c), 5044(e).


Sec.  2556.200  Who may apply to serve as a VISTA?

    An individual may apply to serve as a VISTA if all the following 
requirements are met:
    (a) The individual is at least eighteen years of age upon taking an 
oath or affirmation, as appropriate, to enter VISTA service. There is 
no upper age limit.
    (b) The individual is a United States citizen or national, or is 
legally residing within a state. For eligibility purposes, a lawful 
permanent resident alien is considered to be an individual who is 
legally residing within a state.


Sec.  2556.205  What commitments and agreements must an individual make 
to serve in the VISTA program?

    (a) To the maximum extent practicable, the individual must make a 
full-time commitment to remain available for service without regard to 
regular working hours, at all times during his or her period of 
service, except for authorized periods of leave.
    (b) To the maximum extent practicable, the individual must make a 
full-time personal commitment to alleviate poverty and poverty-related 
problems, and to live among and at the economic level of the low-income 
people served by the project.
    (c) The individual's service cannot be used to satisfy service 
requirements of parole, probation, or community service prescribed by 
the criminal justice system.
    (d) A VISTA candidate or member agrees to undergo an investigation 
into his or her criminal history or background as a condition of 
enrollment, or continued enrollment, in the VISTA program.


Sec.  2556.210  Who reviews and approves an application for VISTA 
service?

    CNCS has the final authority to approve or deny VISTA applications 
for VISTA service.

Subpart D--Terms, Protections, and Benefits of VISTA Members

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4954(a), (b), (d), 4955, 5044(e), 5055, and 
5059; 42 U.S.C. 12602(c).


Sec.  2556.300  Is a VISTA considered a Federal employee and is a VISTA 
considered an employee of the sponsor?

    (a) Except for the purposes listed here, a VISTA is not considered 
an employee of the Federal Government. A VISTA is considered a Federal 
employee only for the following purposes:
    (1) Federal Tort Claims Act--28 U.S.C. 1346(b); 28 U.S.C. 2671-
2680;
    (2) Federal Employees' Compensation Act--5 U.S.C. chapter 81, 
subchapter 1;
    (3) Hatch Act--5 U.S.C. chapter 73, subchapter III;
    (4) Internal Revenue Service Code--26 U.S.C. 1 et seq.; and
    (5) Title II of the Social Security Act--42 U.S.C. 401 et seq.
    (b) A VISTA is not considered a federal employee for any purposes 
other than those set forth in paragraph (a) of this section.
    (c) A VISTA is not covered by Federal or state unemployment 
compensation related to their enrollment or service in the VISTA 
program. A VISTA's service is not considered employment for purposes of 
eligibility for, or receipt of,

[[Page 63465]]

federal, state, or any other unemployment compensation.
    (d) Monetary allowances, such as living allowances that VISTAs 
receive during VISTA service are not considered wages. Monetary 
allowances, such as living allowances, that VISTAs receive during VISTA 
service are considered income for such purposes as Federal income tax 
and Social Security.
    (e) A VISTA is not, under any circumstances, considered an employee 
of the sponsor or subrecipient to which he or she is assigned to serve. 
No VISTA is in an employment relationship with the sponsor or 
subrecipient to which he or she is assigned. The sponsor is not 
authorized to make contributions to any state unemployment compensation 
fund on a VISTA's behalf.


Sec.  2556.305  What is the duration and scope of service for a VISTA?

    (a) To serve as a VISTA, an individual makes a full-time commitment 
for a minimum of one year, without regard to regular working hours.
    (b) A VISTA carries out activities in accordance with the purpose 
of the VISTA program, as described in Sec.  2556.1.
    (c) To the maximum extent practicable, the VISTA shall live among 
and at the economic level of the low-income community served by the 
project, and actively seek opportunities to engage with that low-income 
community without regard to regular work hours.
    (d) A VISTA carries out service activities in conformance with the 
sponsor's approved project application, including any description of a 
VISTA assignment as contained in the project application; and, in 
conformance with the purpose of title I of the DVSA. In any case where 
there is a conflict between the project application and the DVSA, the 
DVSA takes precedence.
    (e) Under no circumstances may an individual be enrolled to serve 
as a VISTA beyond five years.


Sec.  2556.310  What are the lines of supervision or oversight of a 
VISTA, a VISTA sponsor, and CNCS during a VISTA's term of service?

    (a) The VISTA sponsor is responsible for the day-to-day supervision 
and oversight of the VISTA.
    (b) CNCS is responsible for ongoing monitoring and oversight of the 
VISTA sponsor's project where the VISTA is assigned. CNCS is 
responsible for selecting the VISTA, assigning the VISTA to a project, 
removal of a VISTA from a project, and VISTA separation actions such as 
termination from the VISTA program.


Sec.  2556.315  What are terms and conditions for official travel for a 
VISTA?

    (a) CNCS may provide official travel for a VISTA candidate or a 
VISTA, as appropriate, to attend CNCS-directed activities, such as pre-
service training, placement at the project site, in-service training 
events, and return from the project site to home of record.
    (b) CNCS must approve all official travel of a VISTA candidate or a 
VISTA, including the mode of travel.
    (c) CNCS may provide for official emergency travel for a VISTA in 
case of a natural disaster or the critical illness or death of an 
immediate family member.


Sec.  2556.320  What benefits may a VISTA receive during VISTA service?

    (a) A VISTA receives a living allowance computed on a daily rate. 
Living allowances vary according to the local cost-of-living in the 
project area where the VISTA is assigned.
    (b) Subject to a maximum amount, and at the discretion and upon 
approval of CNCS, a VISTA may receive payment for settling-in expenses, 
as determined by CNCS.
    (c) Subject to a maximum amount, and at the discretion of CNCS, in 
the event of an emergency (such as theft, fire loss, or special 
clothing necessitated by severe climate), a VISTA may receive an 
emergency expense payment in order to resume VISTA service activities, 
as determined and approved by CNCS.
    (d) Subject to a maximum amount, and at the discretion of CNCS, a 
VISTA may receive a baggage allowance for the actual costs of 
transporting personal effects to the project site to which the VISTA is 
assigned to serve, as determined by CNCS.
    (e) To the extent eligible, a VISTA may receive health care through 
a health benefits program provided by CNCS.
    (f) To the extent eligible, a VISTA may receive child care support 
through a child care program provided by CNCS.
    (g) To the extent eligible, a VISTA may elect to receive a Segal 
AmeriCorps Education Award, and upon successful completion of service, 
receive that award in an amount prescribed by CNCS, in accordance with 
the applicable provisions of 45 CFR parts 2526, 2527, and 2528.
    (1) A VISTA is eligible to elect to receive a Segal AmeriCorps 
Education Award if he or she is a citizen, national, or lawful 
permanent resident alien of the United States.
    (2) A VISTA who elects a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is 
eligible to request forbearance of a student loan from his or her loan-
holder. A VISTA who elects a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award may, upon 
successful completion of service, be eligible to receive up to 100 
percent of the interest accrued on a qualified student loan, consistent 
with the applicable provisions of 45 CFR part 2529.
    (3) A VISTA is not eligible to receive more than an amount equal to 
the aggregate value of two full-time Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards 
in his or her lifetime.
    (4) Other than for a summer associate, the amount of a Segal 
AmeriCorps Education Award for the successful completion of a VISTA 
term of service is equal to the maximum amount of a Federal Pell Grant 
under Section 401 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070a) 
that a student eligible for such grant may receive in the aggregate for 
the fiscal year in which the VISTA has enrolled in the VISTA program.
    (h) A VISTA who does not elect to receive a Segal AmeriCorps 
Education Award, upon successful completion of service, receives an 
end-of-service stipend in an amount prescribed by CNCS.
    (i) In the event that a VISTA does not successfully complete a full 
term of service, a VISTA shall not receive a pro-rated Segal AmeriCorps 
Education Award or a pro-rated end-of-service stipend, except in cases 
where the appropriate State Program Director determines the VISTA did 
not successfully complete a full term of service because of a 
compelling, personal circumstance. Examples of a compelling, personal 
circumstance are: Serious medical condition or disability of a VISTA 
during VISTA service; critical illness or disability of a VISTA's 
immediate family member (spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, 
child, or guardian) if this event makes completing a term of service 
unreasonably difficult; or unusual conditions not attributable to the 
VISTA, such as natural disaster, strike, or premature closing of a 
project, that make completing a term unreasonably difficult or 
infeasible.
    (j) In the event of a VISTA's death during service, his or her 
family or others that he or she named as beneficiary in accordance with 
section 5582 of title 5, United States Code, shall be paid a pro-rated 
end-of-service stipend for the period during which the VISTA served. If 
the VISTA had elected to receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award 
for successful completion of a full term of VISTA service, prior to 
payment to the named beneficiary, CNCS shall convert that election to 
an end-of-service stipend and pay the VISTA's family, or others that he 
or she named as beneficiary, a

[[Page 63466]]

pro-rated end-of-service stipend accordingly.


Sec.  2556.325  May a VISTA be provided coverage for legal defense 
expenses related to VISTA service?

    Under certain circumstances, as set forth in Sec. Sec.  2556.330 
through 2556.335, CNCS may pay reasonable legal defense expenses 
incurred in judicial or administrative proceedings for the defense of a 
VISTA serving in the VISTA program. Such covered legal expenses consist 
of counsel fees, court costs, bail, and other expenses incidental to a 
VISTA's legal defense.


Sec.  2556.330  When may a VISTA be provided coverage for legal defense 
expenses related to criminal proceedings?

    (a) For the legal defense of a VISTA member who is charged with a 
criminal offense related to the VISTA member's service, up to and 
including arraignment in Federal, state, and local criminal 
proceedings, CNCS may pay actual and reasonable legal expenses. CNCS is 
not required to pay any expenses for the legal defense of a VISTA 
member where he or she is charged with a criminal offense arising from 
alleged activity or action that is unrelated to that VISTA's service.
    (b) A VISTA member's service is clearly unrelated to a charged 
offense:
    (1) When the activity or action is alleged to have occurred prior 
to the VISTA member's VISTA service.
    (2) When the VISTA member is not at his or her assigned project 
location, such as during periods of approved leave, medical leave, 
emergency leave, or in administrative hold status in the VISTA program.
    (3) When the activity or action is alleged to have occurred at or 
near his or her assigned project, but is clearly not part of, or 
required by, the VISTA member's service assignment.
    (c) For the legal defense, beyond arraignment in Federal, state, 
and local criminal proceedings, of a VISTA member who is charged with a 
criminal offense, CNCS may also pay actual and reasonable legal 
expenses:
    (1) When the charged offense against the VISTA member relates 
exclusively to his or her VISTA assignment or status as a VISTA member;
    (2) When the charge offense against the VISTA member arises from an 
alleged activity or action that is a part of, or required by, the VISTA 
member's VISTA assignment;
    (3) When the VISTA member has not admitted a willful or knowing 
violation of law; or
    (4) When the charged offense against the VISTA member is not a 
minor offense or misdemeanor, such as a minor vehicle violation.
    (d) Notwithstanding paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section, 
there may be situations in which the criminal proceedings at issue 
arise from a matter that also gives rise to a civil claim under the 
Federal Tort Claims Act. In such a situation, the U.S. Department of 
Justice may, on behalf of the United States, agree to defend the VISTA. 
If the U.S. Department of Justice agrees to defend the VISTA member, 
unless there is a conflict between the VISTA member's interest and that 
of the United States, CNCS will not pay for expenses associated with 
any additional legal representation (such as counsel fees for private 
counsel) for the VISTA member.


Sec.  2556.335  When may a VISTA be provided coverage for legal defense 
expenses related to civil or administrative proceedings?

    For the legal defense in Federal, state, and local civil judicial 
and administrative proceedings of a VISTA member, CNCS may also pay 
actual and reasonable legal expenses, where:
    (a) The complaint or charge is against the VISTA, and is directly 
related to his or her VISTA service and not to his or her personal 
activities or obligations;
    (b) The VISTA has not admitted to willfully or knowingly pursuing a 
course of conduct that would result in the plaintiff or complainant 
initiating such a proceeding; and
    (c) The judgment sought involves a monetary award that exceeds 
$1,000.


Sec.  2556.340  What is non-competitive eligibility and who is eligible 
for it?

    (a) Non-competitive eligibility is a status attained by an 
individual such that the individual is eligible for appointment by a 
Federal agency in the Executive branch, into a civil service position 
in the federal competitive service, in accordance with 5 CFR 315.605.
    (b) An individual who successfully completes at least a year-long 
term of service as a VISTA, and who has not been terminated for cause 
from the VISTA program at any time, retains non-competitive eligibility 
status for one year following the end of the term of service as a 
VISTA.
    (c) In addition to the retention of the one year of non-competitive 
eligibility status as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, an 
individual's non-competitive eligibility status may extend for two more 
years to a total of three years if the individual is:
    (1) In the military service;
    (2) Studying at a recognized institution of higher learning; or
    (3) In another activity which, in the view of the federal agency 
referenced in paragraph (a) of this section, warrants extension.


Sec.  2556.345  Who may present a grievance?

    (a) Under the VISTA program grievance procedure, a grievance may be 
presented by any individual who is currently enrolled as a VISTA in the 
VISTA program or who was enrolled as a VISTA in the VISTA program 
within the past 30 calendar days.
    (b) A VISTA's grievance shall not be construed as reflecting on the 
VISTA's standing, performance, or desirability as a VISTA.
    (c) A VISTA who presents a grievance shall not be subjected to 
restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal because 
of presentation of views.


Sec.  2556.350  What matters are considered grievances?

    (a) Under the VISTA program grievance procedure, grievances are 
matters of concern, brought by a VISTA, that arise out of, and directly 
affect, the VISTA's service situation or that arise out of a violation 
of a policy, practice, or regulation governing the terms or conditions 
of the VISTA's service, such that the violation results in the denial 
or infringement of a right or benefit to the VISTA member.
    (b) Matters not within the definition of a grievance as defined in 
paragraph (a) of this section are not grievable, and therefore, are 
excluded from the VISTA program grievance procedure. Though not 
exhaustive, examples of matters excluded from the VISTA program 
grievance procedure are:
    (1) Those matters related to a sponsor's or project's continuance 
or discontinuance; the number of VISTAs assigned to a VISTA project; 
the increases or decreases in the level of support provided to a VISTA 
project; the suspension or termination of a VISTA project; or the 
selection or retention of VISTA project staff.
    (2) Those matters for which a separate administrative procedure or 
complaint process is provided, such as early termination for cause, 
claims of discrimination during service, and federal worker's 
compensation claims filed for illness or injury sustained in the course 
of carrying out VISTA activities.
    (3) Those matters related to any law, published rule, regulation, 
policy, or procedure.
    (4) Those matters related to housing during a VISTA member's 
service.
    (5) Those matters which are, by law, subject to final 
administrative review outside CNCS.
    (6) Those matters related to actions taken, or not taken, by a 
VISTA sponsor

[[Page 63467]]

or subrecipient, or CNCS, in compliance with or in order to fulfill the 
terms of a contract, grant, or other agreement related to the VISTA 
program.
    (7) Those matters related to the internal management of CNCS, 
unless such matters are shown to specifically and directly affect the 
VISTA's service situation or terms or conditions of his or her VISTA 
service.


Sec.  2556.355  May a VISTA have access to records as part of the VISTA 
grievance procedure?

    (a) A VISTA is entitled to review any material in his or her 
official VISTA file and any relevant CNCS records to the extent 
permitted by the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, 5 
U.S.C. 552, 552a. Examples of materials that may be withheld include 
references obtained under pledge of confidentiality, official VISTA 
files of other VISTAs, and privileged intra-agency documents.
    (b) A VISTA may review relevant materials in the possession of a 
sponsor to the extent such materials are disclosable by the sponsor 
under applicable freedom of information act and privacy laws.


Sec.  2556.360  How may a VISTA bring a grievance?

    (a) Bringing a grievance--Step 1. (1) While currently enrolled in 
the VISTA program, or enrolled in the VISTA program within the past 30 
calendar days, a VISTA may bring a grievance to the sponsor or 
subrecipient where he or she is assigned to serve within 15 calendar 
days that the event giving rise to the grievance occurs, or within 15 
calendar days after becoming aware of the event. If the grievance 
arises out of a continuing condition or practice that individually 
affects a VISTA, while enrolled the VISTA may bring it at any time 
while he or she is affected by a continuing condition or practice.
    (2) A VISTA brings a grievance by presenting it in writing to the 
executive director, or comparable individual, of the sponsoring 
organization where the VISTA is assigned, or to the sponsor's 
representative who is designated to receive grievances from a VISTA.
    (3) The sponsor shall review and respond in writing to the VISTA's 
grievance, within 10 calendar days of receipt of the written grievance. 
The sponsor may not fail to respond to a complaint raised by a VISTA on 
the basis that it is not an actual grievance, or that it is excluded 
from coverage as a grievance, but may, in the written response, dismiss 
the complaint and refuse to grant the relief requested on either of 
those grounds.
    (4) If the grievance brought by a VISTA involves a matter over 
which the sponsor has no substantial control or if the sponsor's 
representative is the supervisor of the VISTA, the VISTA may pass over 
the procedure set forth in paragraphs (a)(1) through (3) of this 
section, and present the grievance in writing directly to the State 
Program Director, as described in paragraph (b) of this section.
    (b) Bringing a grievance--Step 2. (1) If, after a VISTA brings a 
grievance as set forth in paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section, 
the matter is not resolved, he or she may submit the grievance in 
writing to the appropriate State Program Director. The VISTA must 
submit the grievance to the State Program Director either:
    (i) Within seven calendar days of receipt of the response of the 
sponsor; or,
    (ii) In the event the sponsor has not issued a response to the 
VISTA within 10 calendar days of receipt of the written grievance, 
within 17 calendar days.
    (2) If the grievance involves a matter over which either the 
sponsor or subrecipient has no substantial control or if the sponsor's 
representative is the supervisor of the VISTA, as described in 
paragraph (a)(4) of this section, the VISTA may pass over the procedure 
set forth in paragraphs (a)(1) through (3) of this section, and submit 
the grievance in writing directly to the State Program Director. In 
such a case, the VISTA must submit the grievance to the State Program 
Director within 15 calendar days of the event giving rise to the 
grievance occurs, or within 15 calendar days after becoming aware of 
the event.
    (3) Within ten working days of receipt of the grievance, the State 
Program Director shall respond in writing, regardless of whether or not 
the matter constitutes a grievance as defined under this grievance 
procedure, and/or is timely submitted. In the response, the State 
Program Director may determine that the matter submitted as a grievance 
is not grievable, is not considered a grievance, or fails to meet the 
time limit for response. If the State Program Director makes any such 
determination, he or she may dismiss the complaint, setting forth the 
reason(s) for the dismissal. In such a case, the State Program Director 
need not address the complaint on the merits, nor make a determination 
of the complaint on the merits.


Sec.  2556.365  May a VISTA appeal a grievance?

    (a) The VISTA may appeal in writing to the appropriate Area Manager 
the response of the State Program Director to the grievance, as set 
forth in Sec.  2556.360(b)(3). To be eligible to appeal a grievance 
response to the Area Manager, the VISTA must have exhausted all 
appropriate actions as set forth in Sec.  2556.360.
    (b) A VISTA's grievance appeal must be in writing and contain 
sufficient detail to identify the subject matter of the grievance, 
specify the relief requested, and be signed by the VISTA.
    (c) The VISTA must submit a grievance appeal to the appropriate 
Area Manager no later than 10 calendar days after the State Program 
Director issues his or her response to the grievance.
    (d) Certain matters contained in a grievance appeal may be 
rejected, rather than denied on the merits, by the Area Manager. A 
grievance appeal may be rejected, in whole or in part, for any of the 
following reasons:
    (1) The grievance appeal was not submitted to the appropriate Area 
Manager within the time limit specified in paragraph (c) of this 
section;
    (2) The grievance appeal consists of matters not contained within 
the definition of a grievance, as specified in section Sec.  
2556.350(a);
    (3) The grievance appeal consists of matters excluded from the 
VISTA program grievance procedure, as specified in Sec.  2556.350(b); 
or
    (4) The grievance appeal contains matters that are moot, or for 
which relief has otherwise been granted.
    (e) Within 14 calendar days of receipt of the grievance, the 
appropriate Area Manager shall decide the grievance appeal on the 
merits, or reject the grievance appeal in whole or in part, or both, as 
appropriate. The Area Manager shall notify the VISTA in writing of the 
decision and specify the grounds for the appeal decision. The appeal 
decision shall include a statement of the basis for the decision and is 
a final decision of CNCS.

Subpart E--Termination for Cause Procedures

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4953(b), (c), (f), and 5044(e).


Sec.  2556.400  What is termination for cause and what are the criteria 
for termination for cause?

    (a) Termination for cause is discharge of a VISTA from the VISTA 
program due to a deficiency, or deficiencies, in conduct or 
performance.
    (b) CNCS may terminate for cause a VISTA for any of the following 
reasons:
    (1) Conviction of any criminal offense under Federal, State, or 
local statute or ordinance;

[[Page 63468]]

    (2) Violation of any provision of the Domestic Service Volunteer 
Act of 1973, as amended, or any CNCS or VISTA program policy, 
regulation, or instruction;
    (3) Failure, refusal, or inability to perform prescribed project 
duties as outlined in the project plan, assignment description, or as 
directed by the sponsor to which the VISTA is assigned;
    (4) Involvement in activities which substantially interfere with 
the VISTA's performance of project duties;
    (5) Intentional false statement, misrepresentation, omission, 
fraud, or deception in seeking to obtain selection as a VISTA in the 
VISTA program;
    (6) Any conduct on the part of the VISTA which substantially 
diminishes his or her effectiveness as a VISTA; or
    (7) Unsatisfactory performance of an assignment.


Sec.  2556.405  Who has sole authority to remove a VISTA from a VISTA 
project and who has sole authority to terminate a VISTA from the VISTA 
program?

    (a) CNCS has the sole authority to remove a VISTA from a project 
where he or she has been assigned.
    (b) CNCS has the sole authority to terminate for cause, or 
otherwise terminate, a VISTA from the VISTA program.
    (c) Neither the sponsoring organization nor any of its 
subrecipients has the authority to remove a VISTA from a project or to 
terminate a VISTA for cause, or for any other basis, from the VISTA 
program.


Sec.  2556.410  May a sponsor request that a VISTA be removed from its 
project?

    (a) The head of a sponsoring organization, or his or her designee, 
may request that CNCS remove a VISTA assigned to its project. Any such 
request must be submitted in writing to the appropriate State Program 
Director and should state the reasons for the request.
    (b) The State Program Director may, at his or her discretion, 
attempt to resolve the situation with the sponsor so that an 
alternative solution other than removal of the VISTA from the project 
assignment is reached.
    (c) When an alternative solution, as referenced in paragraph (b) of 
this section, is not sought, or is not reached within a reasonable time 
period, the State Program Director shall remove the VISTA from the 
project.


Sec.  2556.415  May CNCS remove a VISTA from a project without the 
sponsor's request for removal?

    Of its own accord, CNCS may remove a VISTA from a project 
assignment without the sponsor's request for removal.


Sec.  2556.420  What are termination for cause proceedings?

    (a) Termination for cause proceedings are initiated by the State 
Program Director when CNCS removes a VISTA from a project assignment 
due to an alleged deficiency, or alleged deficiencies, in conduct or 
performance.
    (b) The State Program Director or other CNCS State Office staff, to 
the extent practicable, communicates the matter with the VISTA who is 
removed from a VISTA project and the administrative procedures as set 
forth in paragraphs (c) through (e) of this section.
    (c) The State Program Director shall notify VISTA in writing of 
CNCS's proposal to terminate for cause. The written proposal to 
terminate him or her for cause must give the VISTA the reason(s) for 
the proposed termination, and notify him or her that he or she has 10 
calendar days within which to answer in writing the proposal to 
terminate him or her for cause, and to furnish any accompanying 
statements or written material. The VISTA must submit any answer to the 
appropriate State Program Director identified in the written proposal 
to terminate for cause within the deadline specified in the proposal to 
terminate for cause.
    (d) Within 10 calendar days of the expiration of the VISTA's 
deadline to answer the proposal to terminate for cause, the appropriate 
State Program Director shall issue a written decision regarding the 
proposal to terminate for cause.
    (1) If the decision is to terminate the VISTA for cause, the 
decision shall set forth the reasons for the determination and the 
effective date of termination (which may be on or after the date of the 
decision).
    (2) If the decision is not to terminate the VISTA for cause, the 
decision shall indicate that the proposal to terminate for cause is 
rescinded.
    (e) A VISTA who does not submit a timely answer to the appropriate 
State Program Director, as set forth in paragraph (c) of this section, 
is not entitled to appeal the decision regarding the proposal to 
terminate for cause. In such cases, CNCS may terminate the VISTA for 
cause, on the date identified in the decision, and the termination 
action is final.


Sec.  2556.425  May a VISTA appeal his or her termination for cause?

    (a) Within 10 calendar days of the appropriate State Program 
Director's issuance of the decision to terminate the VISTA for cause, 
as set forth in Sec.  2556.420(d), the VISTA may appeal the decision to 
the appropriate Area Manager. The appeal must be in writing and specify 
the reasons for the VISTA's disagreement with the decision.
    (b) CNCS shall not incur any expenses or travel allowances for the 
VISTA in connection with the preparation or presentation of the appeal.
    (c) The VISTA may have access to records as follows:
    (1) The VISTA may review any material in the VISTA's official CNCS 
file and any relevant CNCS records to the extent permitted by the 
Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, 552a. 
Examples of documents that may be withheld include references obtained 
under pledge of confidentiality, official files of other program 
participants, and privileged intra-agency documents.
    (2) The VISTA may review relevant records in the possession of a 
sponsor to the extent such documents are disclosable by the sponsor 
under applicable freedom of information act and privacy laws.
    (d) Within 14 calendar days of receipt of any appeal by the VISTA, 
the Area Manager or equivalent CNCS official shall issue a written 
appeal determination. The appeal determination shall indicate the 
reasons for such an appeal determination. The appeal determination 
shall be final.


Sec.  2556.430  Is a VISTA who is terminated early from the VISTA 
program for other than cause entitled to appeal under these procedures?

    (a) Only a VISTA whose early termination from the VISTA program is 
for cause, and who has answered the proposal to terminate him or her 
for cause in a timely manner, as set forth in Sec.  2556.420(c), is 
entitled to appeal the early termination action, as referenced in Sec.  
2556.425. A termination for cause is based on a deficiency, or 
deficiencies, in the performance or conduct of a VISTA.
    (b) The following types of early terminations from the VISTA 
program are not terminations for cause, and are not entitled to appeal 
under the early termination appeal procedure set forth in Sec. Sec.  
2556.420 and 2556.425:
    (1) Resignation from the VISTA program prior to the issuance of a 
decision to terminate for cause, as set forth in Sec.  2556.420(d);
    (2) Early termination from the VISTA program because a VISTA did 
not secure a suitable reassignment to another project; and
    (3) Medical termination from the VISTA program.

Subpart F--Summer Associates

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4954(d), (e).

[[Page 63469]]

Sec.  2556.500  How is a position for a summer associate established in 
a project?

    (a) From time-to-time, the State Program Director invites sponsors 
within the state to apply for one or more positions for individuals to 
serve as summer associates at the sponsor's VISTA project.
    (b) Subject to VISTA assistance availability, CNCS approves the 
establishment of summer associate positions based on the following 
factors:
    (1) The need in the community, as demonstrated by the sponsor, for 
the performance of project activities by a summer associate(s);
    (2) The content and quality of summer associate project plans;
    (3) The capacity of the sponsor to implement the summer associate 
project activities; and
    (4) The sponsor's compliance with all applicable parts of the DVSA, 
VISTA program policy, and the sponsor's Memorandum of Agreement, which 
incorporates their project application.


Sec.  2556.505  How do summer associates differ from other VISTAs?

    Summer associates differ from other VISTAs in the following ways:
    (a) Summer associates are not eligible to receive:
    (1) Health care through a health benefits program provided by CNCS;
    (2) Child care support through a child care program provided by 
CNCS;
    (3) Payment for settling-in expenses; or
    (4) Non-competitive eligibility in accordance with 5 CFR 315.605.
    (b) Absent extraordinary circumstances, summer associates are not 
eligible to receive:
    (1) Payment for travel expenses incurred for travel to or from the 
project site to which the summer associate is assigned; or
    (2) A baggage allowance for the costs of transporting personal 
effects to or from the project site to which the summer associate is 
assigned to serve.
    (c) CNCS may discharge a summer associate due to a deficiency, or 
deficiencies, in conduct or performance. Summer associates are not 
subject to subpart E of this part, or to the grievance procedures 
provided to VISTAs set forth in Sec. Sec.  2556.345 through 2556.365.

Subpart G--VISTA Leaders

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4954(b).


Sec.  2556.600  How is a position for a leader established in a 
project, or in multiple projects within a contiguous geographic region?

    (a) At its discretion, CNCS may approve the establishment of a 
leader position based on the following factors:
    (1) The need for a leader in a project of a substantial size and 
with multiple VISTAs assigned to serve at that project, or the need for 
leader for multiple projects located within a contiguous geographic 
region.
    (2) The need for a leader to assist with the communication of VISTA 
policies and administrative procedures to VISTAs within a project, or 
throughout the multiple projects within a contiguous geographic region, 
as applicable.
    (3) The need for a leader to assist with the professional 
development of VISTAs within a project, or throughout the multiple 
projects within a contiguous geographic region, as applicable.
    (4) The need for a leader to assist with the recruitment and 
preparation for the arrival of VISTAs within a project, or throughout 
the multiple projects within a contiguous geographic region, as 
applicable.
    (5) The capacity of the VISTA supervisor to support and guide the 
leader.
    (b) A sponsor may request, in its project application, that CNCS 
establish a leader position in its project.


Sec.  2556.605  Who is eligible to apply to serve as a leader?

    An individual is eligible to apply to serve as a leader if he or 
she has successfully completed any of the following:
    (a) At least one year of service as a VISTA;
    (b) At least one full term of service as a full-time AmeriCorps 
State and National member;
    (c) At least one full term of service as a member of the AmeriCorps 
National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC); or
    (d) At least one traditional term of service as a Peace Corps 
Volunteer.


Sec.  2556.610  What is the application process to apply to become a 
leader?

    (a) Application package. An eligible individual must apply in 
writing to CNCS to become a leader. The sponsor's recommendation and 
related materials, described in paragraph (b) of this section, must be 
included with the individual's application to become a leader.
    (b) Sponsor recommendation. A sponsor where an individual is 
seeking to serve as a leader must recommend in writing to CNCS the 
individual to become a leader. Included with the recommendation must be 
an evaluation of the individual's performance while in previous 
service, a description of specific tasks, responsibilities, 
qualifications, and other relevant information that justifies the 
placement of the individual in a leader position, and if appropriate, 
the establishment of a leader position.
    (c) Selection. CNCS shall have sole authority to select a leader. 
The criteria for selection shall include consideration of the 
individual's application and the sponsor's recommendation described in 
paragraph (b) of this section.


Sec.  2556.615  Who reviews a leader application and who approves or 
disapproves a leader application?

    CNCS reviews the application package for the leader position, 
considers the recommendation of the sponsor, and approves or 
disapproves the individual to serve as a leader.


Sec.  2556.620  How does a leader differ from other VISTAs?

    The application process to apply to become a leader, as described 
in Sec.  2556.610, is separate and distinct from the application 
process to apply to enroll as a VISTA in the VISTA program:
    (a) A leader may receive a living allowance computed at a higher 
daily rate than other VISTAs, as authorized under section 105(a)(1)(B) 
of the DVSA.
    (b) A leader is subject to all the terms and conditions of service 
described in Sec.  2556.625.


Sec.  2556.625  What are terms and conditions of service for a leader?

    Though not exhaustive, terms and conditions of service as a leader 
include:
    (a) A leader makes a full-time commitment to serve as a leader, 
without regard to regular working hours, for a minimum of one year.
    (b) To the maximum extent practicable, a leader shall live among 
and at the economic level of the low-income community served by the 
project and actively seek opportunities to engage with that low-income 
community.
    (c) A leader aids the communication of VISTA policies and 
administrative procedures to VISTAs.
    (d) A leader assists with the leadership development of VISTAs.
    (e) A leader is a resource in the development and delivery of 
training for VISTAs.
    (f) A leader may assist the sponsor with recruitment and 
preparation for the arrival of VISTAs.
    (g) A leader may advise a supervisor on potential problem areas and 
needs of VISTAs.
    (h) A leader aids VISTAs in the development of effective working 
relationships and understanding of VISTA program concepts.

[[Page 63470]]

    (i) A leader may aid the supervisor and sponsor in directing or 
focusing the VISTA project to best address the community's needs.
    (j) A leader may serve as a collector of data for performance 
measures of the project and the VISTAs.
    (k) A leader is prohibited from supervising VISTAs. A leader is 
also prohibited from handling or managing, on behalf of the project, 
personnel-related matters affecting VISTAs. Personnel-related matters 
affecting VISTAs must be managed and handled by the project and in 
coordination with the appropriate CNCS State Office.

Subpart H--Restrictions and Prohibitions on Political Activities 
and Lobbying

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4954(a), 5043, and 5055(b).


Sec.  2556.700  Who is covered by this subpart?

    (a) All VISTAs, including leaders and summer associates, are 
subject to this subpart.
    (b) All employees of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients, whose 
salaries or other compensation are paid, in whole or in part, with 
VISTA grant assistance are subject to this subpart.
    (c) All VISTA sponsors and subrecipients are subject to this 
subpart.


Sec.  2556.705  What is prohibited political activity?

    For purposes of the regulations in this subpart, ``prohibited 
political activity'' means an activity directed toward the success or 
failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, 
or partisan political group.


Sec.  2556.710  What political activities are VISTAs prohibited from 
engaging in?

    (a) A VISTA may not use his or her official authority or influence 
to interfere with or affect the result of an election.
    (b) A VISTA may not use his or her official authority or influence 
to coerce any individual to participate in political activity.
    (c) A VISTA may not use his or her official VISTA program title 
while participating in prohibited political activity.
    (d) A VISTA may not participate in prohibited political activities 
in the following circumstances:
    (1) While he or she is on duty;
    (2) While he or she is wearing an article of clothing, logo, 
insignia, or other similar item that identifies CNCS, the VISTA 
program, or one of CNCS's other national service programs;
    (3) While he or she is in any room or building occupied in the 
discharge of VISTA duties by an individual employed by the sponsor; and
    (4) While using a vehicle owned or leased by a sponsor or 
subrecipient, or while using a privately-owned vehicle in the discharge 
of VISTA duties.


Sec.  2556.715  What political activities may a VISTA participate in?

    (a) Provided that paragraph (b) of this section is fully adhered 
to, a VISTA may:
    (1) Express his or her opinion privately and publicly on political 
subjects;
    (2) Be politically active in connection with a question which is 
not specifically identified with a political party, such as a 
constitutional amendment, referendum, approval of a municipal 
ordinance, or any other question or issue of similar character;
    (3) Participate in the nonpartisan activities of a civic, 
community, social, labor, or professional organization, or of a similar 
organization; and
    (4) Participate fully in public affairs, except as prohibited by 
other Federal law, in a manner which does not compromise his or her 
efficiency or integrity as a VISTA, or compromise the neutrality, 
efficiency, or integrity of CNCS or the VISTA program.
    (b) A VISTA may participate in political activities set forth in 
paragraph (a) of this section as long as such participation:
    (1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to 
perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties;
    (2) Does not interfere with his or her provision of service in the 
VISTA program;
    (3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA 
assistance, resources or funds;
    (4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a 
participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program;
    (5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and
    (6) Does not interfere with the full-time commitment to remain 
available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at 
all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of 
leave.


Sec.  2556.720  May VISTAs participate in political organizations?

    (a) Provided that paragraph (b) of this section is fully adhered 
to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in Sec.  
2556.710, a VISTA may:
    (1) Be a member of a political party or other political group and 
participate in its activities;
    (2) Serve as an officer of a political party or other political 
group, a member of a national, State, or local committee of a political 
party, an officer or member of a committee of a political group, or be 
a candidate for any of these positions;
    (3) Attend and participate fully in the business of nominating 
caucuses of political parties;
    (4) Organize or reorganize a political party organization or 
political group;
    (5) Participate in a political convention, rally, or other 
political gathering; and
    (6) Serve as a delegate, alternate, or proxy to a political party 
convention.
    (b) A VISTA may participate in a political organization as long as 
such participation:
    (1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to 
perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties;
    (2) Does not interfere with the provision of service in the VISTA 
program;
    (3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA 
assistance, resources or funds;
    (4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a 
participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program;
    (5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and
    (6) Does not interfere with the full-time commitment to remain 
available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at 
all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of 
leave.


Sec.  2556.725  May VISTAs participate in political campaigns?

    (a) Provided that paragraph (b) of this section is fully adhered 
to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in Sec.  
2556.710, a VISTA may:
    (1) Display pictures, signs, stickers, badges, or buttons 
associated with political parties, candidates for partisan political 
office, or partisan political groups, as long as these items are 
displayed in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in Sec.  
2556.710;
    (2) Initiate or circulate a nominating petition for a candidate for 
partisan political office;
    (3) Canvass for votes in support of or in opposition to a partisan 
political candidate or a candidate for political party office;
    (4) Endorse or oppose a partisan political candidate or a candidate 
for political party office in a political advertisement, broadcast, 
campaign literature, or similar material; and
    (5) Address a convention caucus, rally, or similar gathering of a 
political

[[Page 63471]]

party or political group in support of or in opposition to a partisan 
political candidate or a candidate for political party office.
    (b) A VISTA may participate in a political campaign as long as such 
participation:
    (1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to 
perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties;
    (2) Does not interfere with the provision of service in the VISTA 
program;
    (3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA 
assistance, resources or funds;
    (4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a 
participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program;
    (5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and
    (6) Does not interfere with the full-time commitment to remain 
available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at 
all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of 
leave.


Sec.  2556.730  May VISTAs participate in elections?

    (a) Provided that paragraph (b) of this section is fully adhered 
to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in Sec.  
2556.710, a VISTA may:
    (1) Register and vote in any election;
    (2) Act as recorder, watcher, challenger, or similar officer at 
polling places;
    (3) Serve as an election judge or clerk, or in a similar position; 
and
    (4) Drive voters to polling places for a partisan political 
candidate, partisan political group, or political party.
    (5) Participate in voter registration activities.
    (b) A VISTA may participate in elections as long as such 
participation:
    (1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to 
perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties;
    (2) Does not interfere with the provision of service in the VISTA 
program;
    (3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA 
assistance, resources or funds;
    (4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a 
participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program;
    (5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and
    (6) Does not interfere with the full-time commitment to remain 
available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at 
all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of 
leave.


Sec.  2556.735  May a VISTA be a candidate for public office?

    (a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no VISTA 
may run for the nomination to, or as a candidate for election to, 
partisan political office.
    (b) In accordance with the prohibitions set forth in Sec.  
2556.710, a VISTA may participate in elections as long as such 
participation:
    (1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to 
perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties;
    (2) Does not interference with the provision of service in the 
VISTA program;
    (3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA 
assistance, resources or funds;
    (4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a 
participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program;
    (5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and
    (6) Does not interfere with the full-time commitment to remain 
available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at 
all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of 
leave.
    (c) Provided that paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section are 
adhered to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in Sec.  
2556.710, a VISTA may:
    (1) Run as an independent candidate in a partisan election in 
designated U.S. municipalities and political subdivisions as set forth 
at 5 CFR part 733; and
    (2) Run as a candidate in a non-partisan election.


Sec.  2556.740  May VISTAs participate in political fundraising 
activities?

    (a) Provided that paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section are 
fully adhered to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in 
Sec.  2556.710, a VISTA may:
    (1) Make a political contribution to a political party, political 
group, campaign committee of a candidate for public office in a 
partisan election;
    (2) Attend a political fundraiser; and
    (3) Solicit, accept, or receive uncompensated volunteer services 
for a political campaign from any individual.
    (b) A VISTA may participate in fundraising activities as long as 
such participation:
    (1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to 
perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties;
    (2) Does not interfere with the provision of service in the VISTA 
program;
    (3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA 
assistance, resources or funds;
    (4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a 
participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program;
    (5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and
    (6) Does not interfere with the full-time commitment to remain 
available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at 
all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of 
leave.
    (c) A VISTA may not knowingly:
    (1) Personally solicit, accept, or receive a political contribution 
from another individual;
    (2) Personally solicit political contributions in a speech or 
keynote address given at a fundraiser;
    (3) Allow his or her perceived or actual affiliation with the VISTA 
program, or his or her official title as a VISTA, to be used in 
connection with fundraising activities; or
    (4) Solicit, accept, or receive uncompensated individual volunteer 
services from a subordinate, (e.g., a leader may not solicit, accept or 
receive a political contribution from a VISTA).
    (d) Except for VISTAs who reside in municipalities or political 
subdivisions designated under 5 CFR part 733, no VISTA may accept or 
receive a political contribution on behalf of an individual who is a 
candidate for local partisan political office and who represents a 
political party.


Sec.  2556.745  Are VISTAs prohibited from soliciting or discouraging 
the political participation of certain individuals?

    (a) A VISTA may not knowingly solicit or discourage the 
participation in any political activity of any individual who has an 
application for any compensation, grant, contract, ruling, license, 
permit, or certificate pending before CNCS or the VISTA program.
    (b) A VISTA may not knowingly solicit or discourage the 
participation of any political activity of any individual who is the 
subject of, or a participant in, an ongoing audit, investigation, or 
enforcement action being carried out by or through CNCS or the VISTA 
program.


Sec.  2556.750  What restrictions and prohibitions are VISTAs subject 
to who campaign for a spouse or family member?

    A VISTA who is the spouse or family member of either a candidate 
for partisan political office, candidate for political party office, or 
candidate for

[[Page 63472]]

public office in a nonpartisan election, is subject to the same 
restrictions and prohibitions as other VISTAs, as set forth in Sec.  
2556.725.


Sec.  2556.755  May VISTAs participate in lawful demonstrations?

    In accordance with the prohibitions set forth in Sec.  2556.710, 
VISTAs may participate in lawful demonstrations, political rallies, and 
other political meetings, so long as such participation is in 
conformance with all of the following:
    (a) Occurs only while on authorized leave or while otherwise off 
duty;
    (b) Does not include attempting to represent, or representing the 
views of VISTAs or the VISTA program on any public issue;
    (c) Could not be reasonably understood by the community as being 
identified with the VISTA program, the project, or other elements of 
VISTA service; and
    (d) Does not interfere with the discharge of VISTA duties.


Sec.  2556.760  May a sponsor and subrecipient approve the 
participation of a VISTA in a demonstration or other political meeting?

    (a) No VISTA sponsor or subrecipient shall approve a VISTA to be 
involved in planning, initiating, participating in, or otherwise aiding 
or assisting in any demonstration or other political meeting.
    (b) If a VISTA sponsor or subrecipient which, subsequent to the 
receipt of any CNCS financial assistance, including the assignment of 
VISTAs, approves the participation of a VISTA in a demonstration or 
other political meeting, shall be subject to procedures related to the 
suspension or termination of such assistance, as provided in subpart B 
of this part, Sec. Sec.  2556.135 through 2556.140.


Sec.  2556.765  What disciplinary actions are VISTAs subject to for 
violating restrictions or prohibitions on political activities?

    Violations by a VISTA of any of the prohibitions or restrictions 
set forth in this subpart may warrant termination for cause, in 
accordance with proceedings set forth at Sec. Sec.  2556.420, 2556.425, 
and 2556.430.


Sec.  2556.770  What are the requirements of VISTA sponsors and 
subrecipients regarding political activities?

    (a) All sponsors and subrecipients are required to:
    (1) Understand the restrictions and prohibitions on the political 
activities of VISTAs, as set forth in this subpart;
    (2) Provide training to VISTAs on all applicable restrictions and 
prohibitions on political activities, as set forth in this subpart, and 
use training materials that are consistent with these restrictions and 
prohibitions;
    (3) Monitor on a continuing basis the activity of VISTAs for 
compliance with this subpart; and
    (4) Report all violations, or questionable situations, immediately 
to the appropriate CNCS State Office.
    (b) Failure of a sponsor to comply with the requirements of this 
subpart, or a violation of the requirements contained in this subpart 
by the sponsor or subrecipient, sponsor or subrecipient's covered 
employees, agents, or VISTAs, may be deemed to be a material failure to 
comply with terms or conditions of the VISTA program. In such a case, 
the sponsor shall be subject to procedures related to the denial or 
reduction, or suspension or termination, of such assistance, as 
provided in Sec. Sec.  2556.125, 2556.130, and 2556.140.


Sec.  2556.775  What prohibitions and restrictions on political 
activity apply to employees of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients?

    All employees of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients, whose salaries 
or other compensation are paid, in whole or in part, with VISTA funds 
are subject to all applicable prohibitions and restrictions described 
in this subpart in the following circumstances:
    (a) Whenever they are engaged in an activity that is supported by 
CNCS or VISTA funds or assistance; and
    (b) Whenever they identify themselves as acting in their capacity 
as an official of a VISTA project that receives CNCS or VISTA funds or 
assistance, or could reasonably be perceived by others as acting in 
such a capacity.


Sec.  2556.780  What prohibitions on lobbying activities apply to VISTA 
sponsors and subrecipients?

    (a) No VISTA sponsor or subrecipient shall assign a VISTA to 
perform service or engage in activities related to influencing the 
passage or defeat of legislation or proposals by initiative petition.
    (b) No VISTA sponsor or subrecipient shall use any CNCS financial 
assistance, such as VISTA funds or the services of a VISTA, for any 
activity related to influencing the passage or defeat of legislation or 
proposals by initiative petition.

    Dated: October 6, 2015.
Jeremy Joseph,
General Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2015-25790 Filed 10-19-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6050-28-P