[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 40 (Tuesday, March 1, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 11187-11190]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-4431]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

38 CFR Part 59

RIN 2900-AN77


Due Date of Initial Application Requirements for State Home 
Construction Grant

AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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

SUMMARY: This document proposes to amend the Department of Veterans 
Affairs (VA) regulation concerning the calendar date that VA must 
receive an initial application for a State Home Construction Grant in 
order for the application to be included on the

[[Page 11188]]

priority list for the award of grants during the next fiscal year. We 
propose to require that initial application materials must be received 
by VA on April 15, and not August 15, of the year before the fiscal 
year in which the application would be considered for inclusion on the 
priority list for the award of grants. Similarly, we propose to require 
that a State make its matching funds for a project available by April 
15, and not August 15, in order for the project to be placed in 
priority group 1 of the priority list for the next fiscal year. The 
purpose of these changes is to ensure that VA has sufficient time to 
process all applications received and timely prepare the priority list. 
We also propose technical revisions to conform with these proposed 
revisions.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before May 2, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted by email through http://www.regulations.gov; by mail or hand-delivery to Director, Regulations 
Management (02REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave., 
NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420; or by fax to (202) 273-9026. 
Comments should indicate that they are submitted in response to ``RIN 
2900-AN77-Due Date of Initial Application Requirements for State Home 
Construction Grant.'' Copies of comments received will be available for 
public inspection in the Office of Regulation Policy and Management, 
Room 1063B, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through 
Friday (except holidays). Please call (202) 461-4902 for an 
appointment. (This is not a toll-free number.) In addition, during the 
comment period, comments may be viewed online through the Federal 
Docket Management System (FDMS) at http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Graves, Director (114), State Home 
Construction, 810 Vermont Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20420, (202) 461-
6084. (This is not a toll-free number).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under 38 U.S.C. 8131 through 8138, VA is 
authorized to award grants to assist States in constructing, 
remodeling, altering, or expanding State home facilities that will 
furnish specified types of care to veterans. VA has implemented this 
statutory authority at 38 CFR part 59.
    Under 38 U.S.C. 8135, States that wish to receive assistance for a 
State home construction project (or acquisition of an existing facility 
to be used as a State home facility) must submit an application that 
includes certain information and documentation described in the 
statute. VA has implemented the application requirement in current 
Sec.  59.20(a), which requires that applicants seeking inclusion on the 
priority list for grants awarded during the next fiscal year submit to 
VA an original and one copy of a completed VA Form 10-0388-1 and all 
information, documentation, and other forms specified by VA Form 10-
0388-1. Under current Sec.  59.20(c), VA encourages the submission of 
the application by April 15 but considers any application submitted 
before August 16. VA maintains the ``priority list'' pursuant to 
current 38 CFR 59.50.
    We propose to revise Sec.  59.20(c) to improve the clarity and 
efficacy of the application process and to address certain 
administrative challenges presented by the current rule. We also 
propose to make technical revisions to related provisions in part 59.
    First, we propose to change the phrase at the beginning of the 
first sentence of Sec.  59.20(c) from ``[t]he information requested 
under paragraph (a) of this section'' to ``[t]he items requested under 
paragraph (a) of this section''. Paragraph (a) requires the submission 
of forms and documentation as well as information, and all of the items 
described in paragraph (a) must be timely submitted in order for VA to 
consider the project for inclusion on the priority list for the next 
fiscal year. Yet, the current rule could be misinterpreted to require 
timely submission of only the ``information'' described in paragraph 
(a), and not the ``documentation, and other forms specified.'' This is 
a technical, clarifying change.
    Next, we propose to change the date that initial applications must 
be received by VA. Current Sec.  59.20(c) states that applications 
``should be submitted to VA by April 15,'' but ``must be received by VA 
by August 15'' in order for VA to consider the application on the next 
year's priority list. The regulation does not address the distinction 
between submission and receipt and does not explain the four-month gap 
between the two dates. As a practical matter, this often results in the 
items not being received by VA until August 15. At the same time, 
current 38 CFR 59.20(d), 59.50(a), and 59.70(b) use the August 15 date 
without mentioning the April 15 date, which leads to further confusion 
as to which date actually applies.
    A U.S. Government fiscal year begins on October 1 of a calendar 
year and extends through September 30 of the next calendar year. A 
fiscal year carries the date of the calendar year in which it ends. For 
example, if a State seeks assistance for a Fiscal Year 2012 
construction project, the State's application must be received by VA, 
under the current rule, on or before August 15, 2011, so that the 
application can be on the priority list for the next fiscal year, which 
begins on October 1, 2011. As a matter of custom and practice, and to 
ensure the quick and efficient distribution of funds to States that 
need VA's assistance, VA seeks to issue the priority list shortly after 
the beginning of the fiscal year to which it applies. Under current 
Sec.  59.20(c), we have from August 16 to September 30, before the 
beginning of the fiscal year, to analyze and process the applications. 
We need more time to evaluate all of the applications so that we can 
make fully-informed decisions concerning the allocation of grant money 
to the States. For Fiscal Year 2011, VA had to evaluate 111 
applications in order to prepare the priority list before October 1, 
2010. Therefore, we propose to revise Sec.  59.20(c) to require that 
all initial applications be received by VA no later than April 15, and 
also to amend Sec. Sec.  59.20(d) and 59.50(a) in accordance with the 
April 15 requirement.
    We recognize that this will require some States to submit their 
initial applications up to 4 months earlier than has been their custom 
in the past. However, the April 15 submission date is already 
encouraged in current Sec.  59.20(c) and implies that States should 
submit applications to VA as soon as possible before the current August 
15 deadline. The proposed revision to Sec.  59.20(c) would prescribe 
only one date, the date that the application must be received by VA. 
This revision would clarify the regulation. We note that the proposal 
does not otherwise expand the application requirements or in any way 
change the nature of the items submitted.
    Consistent with our need to and proposal for amending Sec.  
59.20(c), we also propose to amend Sec.  59.70(b). Specifically, we 
propose to amend the date, from August 15 to April 15, by which a State 
must commit funds for a project in order for that project to be 
eligible for inclusion in priority group 1 of the priority list for the 
next fiscal year. (Priority group 1 projects are projects that have 
State matching funds. State matching funds are not required to be 
placed in priority groups 2-7 on the priority list.) Paragraph (b) of 
Sec.  59.70 requires that, as a condition of receiving a grant for a 
project, a State must make sufficient funds available for the project 
so that the project may proceed upon approval of the grant without 
further action required by the State to make the funds available. An 
authorized State

[[Page 11189]]

budget official must certify that the State funds are, or will be, 
available for the project, so that if VA awards the grant, the project 
may proceed without further State action. That certification must be 
updated each year by every State with a priority group 1 project. Under 
the current rule, a State must make such funds available by August 15 
of the year prior to the fiscal year for which the grant is requested 
to be eligible for inclusion in priority group 1. Under the proposed 
amendment of Sec.  59.70(b), a State would be required to make the 
funds available by April 15 of the year prior to the fiscal year for 
which the grant is requested. We recognize that the budgetary deadlines 
for the States differ and that the revision will result in some 
projects being excluded from priority group 1 of the priority list for 
a given fiscal year. However, VA's need to have sufficient time to 
prepare the priority list before the beginning of an upcoming fiscal 
year necessitates this change.
    As a result of the change, projects in States that obtain funding 
before April 15 would be eligible for priority group 1 for the upcoming 
fiscal year, and projects in States that obtain funding after April 15 
would not be eligible. In any given year, the only impact of the change 
will be realized for projects funded by States after April 15 and 
before August 16. As mentioned above, projects that are not eligible 
for inclusion in priority group 1 because funds are unavailable would 
still be eligible for inclusion in priority groups 2-7 because the 
initial application does not require the commitment of funds. For all 
of the priority groups, the date on which an application for a project 
is received by VA affects the position of the project on the priority 
list (the earlier the application was received, the higher the priority 
given within a specific priority group or, where relevant, subpriority 
group). See 38 CFR 59.50.
    Finally, we are making a technical amendment to add, after the 
authority citation for Sec.  59.20, a parenthetical noting that the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved the information 
collection required by that regulation. It is VA's practice to include 
notations concerning the information collection approval number at the 
end of regulations containing information collections, and the omission 
here was an oversight.

Unfunded Mandates

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires, at 2 U.S.C. 
1532, that agencies prepare an assessment of anticipated costs and 
benefits before issuing any rule that may result in an expenditure by 
State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the 
private sector, of $100 million or more (adjusted annually for 
inflation) in any given year. This proposed rule would have no such 
effect on State, local, and tribal governments, or on the private 
sector.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Although this document contains provisions constituting collections 
of information, at 38 CFR 59.20, under the provisions of the Paperwork 
Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), no new or proposed revised 
collections of information are associated with this proposed rule. The 
information collection requirements for Sec.  59.20 are currently 
approved by OMB and have been assigned OMB control number 2900-0661.

Executive Order 12866

    Executive Order 12866 directs agencies to assess all costs and 
benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, when regulation is 
necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits 
(including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, 
and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity). The Executive 
Order classifies a regulatory action as a ``significant regulatory 
action,'' requiring review by OMB unless OMB waives such review, if it 
is a regulatory action that is likely to result in a rule that may: (1) 
Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or 
adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the 
economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public 
health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or 
communities; (2) create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere 
with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) materially alter 
the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan 
programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) 
raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the 
President's priorities, or the principles set forth in the Executive 
Order.
    The economic, interagency, budgetary, legal, and policy 
implications of this proposed rule have been examined, and it has been 
determined not to be a significant regulatory action under Executive 
Order 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Secretary hereby certifies that this proposed rule would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities as they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 
U.S.C. 601-612. The rule affects States and has no impact on any small 
entities. Therefore, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 605(b), this proposed 
amendment is exempt from the initial and final regulatory flexibility 
analysis requirements of sections 603 and 604.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

    The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance program numbers and 
titles for this rule are as follows: 64.005, Grants to States for 
Construction of State Home Facilities; 64.007, Blind Rehabilitation 
Centers; 64.008, Veterans Domiciliary Care; 64.009, Veterans Medical 
Care Benefits; 64.010, Veterans Nursing Home Care; 64.014, Veterans 
State Domiciliary Care; 64.015, Veterans State Nursing Home Care; 
64.018, Sharing Specialized Medical Resources; 64.019, Veterans 
Rehabilitation Alcohol and Drug Dependence; 64.022, Veterans Home 
Based Primary Care; and 64.024, VA Homeless Providers Grant and Per 
Diem Program.

Signing Authority

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or designee, approved this 
document and authorized the undersigned to sign and submit the document 
to the Office of the Federal Register for publication electronically as 
an official document of the Department of Veterans Affairs. John R. 
Gingrich, Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, approved this 
document on February 8, 2011, for publication.

List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 59

    Administrative practice and procedure, Alcohol abuse, Alcoholism, 
Claims, Day care, Dental health, Drug abuse, Government contracts, 
Grant programs--health, Grant programs--veterans, Health care, Health 
facilities, Health professions, Health records, Homeless, Mental health 
programs, Nursing homes, Philippines, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Veterans.

    Dated: February 23, 2011.
Robert C. McFetridge,
Director, Regulation Policy and Management, Office of the General 
Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, VA proposes to amend 38 
CFR part 59 as follows:

PART 59--GRANTS TO STATES FOR CONSTRUCTION OR ACQUISITION OF STATE 
HOMES

    1. Revise the authority citation for part 59 to read as follows:


[[Page 11190]]


    Authority: 38 U.S.C. 101, 501, 1710, 1742, 8105, 8131-8137.

    2. Amend Sec.  59.20 by:
    a. Revising paragraph (c).
    b. Removing ``August'' from paragraph (d) and adding, in its place, 
``April''.
    c. Adding an information collection approval parenthetical after 
the authority citation at the end of the section.
    The revision and addition read as follows:


Sec.  59.20  Initial application requirements.

* * * * *
    (c) The items requested under paragraph (a) of this section must be 
received by VA no later than April 15 in order for VA to include the 
application on the priority list for the award of grants during the 
next fiscal year. See Sec.  59.50, Priority List.
* * * * *

(The Office of Management and Budget has approved the information 
collection requirements in this section under control number 2900-
0661.)


Sec.  59.50  [Amended]

    3. Amend Sec.  59.50 by removing ``August'' from the introductory 
text of paragraph (a) and adding, in its place, ``April''.


Sec.  59.70  [Amended]

    4. Amend Sec.  59.70 by removing ``August'' from paragraph (b) and 
adding, in its place, ``April''.

[FR Doc. 2011-4431 Filed 2-28-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8320-01-P