[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 97 (Monday, May 20, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 29234-29237]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-11988]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Chapter III

[CFDA Number: 84.133B-7]


Final Priority; National Institute on Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research--Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
Projects and Centers Program--Rehabilitation Research Training Centers

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

ACTION: Final priority.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services announces a priority for a Rehabilitation 
Research Training Center (RRTC) on Disability Statistics and 
Demographics under the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects 
and Centers program administered by the National Institute on 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). The Assistant Secretary 
may use this priority for a competition in fiscal year (FY) 2013 and 
later years. We take this action to focus research attention on areas 
of national need. We intend to use this priority to improve outcomes 
for individuals with disabilities.

DATES: Effective Date: This priority is effective June 19, 2013.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice of final priority is in concert 
with NIDRR's Long-Range Plan for Fiscal Years 2013-2017 (Plan). The 
Plan, which was published in the Federal Register on April 4, 2013 (78 
FR 20299), can be accessed on the Internet at the following site: 
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-04/html/2013-07879.htm.
    Through the implementation of the Plan, NIDRR seeks to improve the 
health and functioning, employment, and community living and 
participation of individuals with disabilities through comprehensive 
programs of research, engineering, training, technical assistance, and 
knowledge translation and dissemination. The Plan reflects NIDRR's 
commitment to quality, relevance, and balance in its programs to ensure 
that appropriate attention is paid to all aspects of the well-being of 
individuals with disabilities and to all types and degrees of 
disability, including individuals with low incidence and severe 
disabilities.
    This notice announces a priority that NIDRR intends to use for an 
RRTC competition in FY 2013 and possibly later years. However, nothing 
precludes NIDRR from publishing additional priorities, if needed. 
Furthermore, NIDRR is under no obligation to make an award for this 
priority. The decision to make an award will be based on the quality of 
applications received and available funding.
    Purpose of Program: The purpose of the Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program is to plan and 
conduct research, demonstration projects, training, and related 
activities, including international activities, to develop methods, 
procedures, and rehabilitation technologies that maximize the full 
inclusion and integration into society, employment, independent living, 
family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency of individuals 
with disabilities, especially individuals with the most severe 
disabilities, and to improve the effectiveness of services authorized 
under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Rehabilitation Act).

Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs)

    The purpose of the RRTCs, which are funded through the Disability 
and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program, is to achieve 
the goals of, and improve the effectiveness of, services authorized 
under the Rehabilitation Act through advanced research, training, 
technical assistance, and dissemination activities in general problem 
areas, as specified by NIDRR. These activities are designed to benefit 
rehabilitation service providers, individuals with disabilities, and 
the family members or other authorized representatives of individuals 
with disabilities. Additional information on the RRTC program can be 
found at: www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/res-program.html#RRTC.

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(2).

    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.
    We published a notice of proposed priority (NPP) for this program 
in the Federal Register on February 21, 2013 (78 FR 12002). That notice 
contained background information and our reasons for proposing the 
priority.
    Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the NPP, nine 
parties submitted comments on the proposed priority.
    Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes.
    Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments and 
of any changes in the priority since publication of the notice of 
proposed priority follows.
    Comment: One set of commenters recommended that NIDRR include an 
additional requirement that the RRTC collect and analyze market-
oriented information about the use of assistive and accessible 
technologies by individuals with disabilities. These commenters noted 
that such information would provide technology developers, service 
providers, and other stakeholders with information about the number of 
users of specific assistive technology products or the size of the 
potential market for specific technology accessibility features. The 
commenters suggested that the RRTC be required to collect and analyze 
data on the number

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of individuals with disabilities who experience specific barriers to 
the use of assistive technologies and products and to generate new 
solutions to those barriers.
    Discussion: This priority requires the applicant to propose and 
justify statistical research yielding important information about the 
status and well-being of individuals with disabilities. Under paragraph 
(a), applicants may choose to focus a portion of their data-quality 
improvement activities in the area of technology use, as suggested by 
the commenters. However, we do not want to limit the number and breadth 
of applications that are submitted by requiring all applicants to focus 
their activities on the collection and analysis of data about use of 
assistive and accessible technologies by individuals with disabilities. 
Furthermore, under the requirements in paragraph (b)(iii) of the 
priority, and to the extent that data on this topic are available, the 
RRTC may consult with stakeholders and provide specialized analyses if 
requested.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters noted that the outcomes of individuals with 
disabilities are a function of the interaction between the individual 
and the physical, social, and economic environments in which he or she 
lives. These commenters remarked that disability statistics are 
typically collected and analyzed at the individual level and therefore 
do not reflect the role that the environment plays in producing 
outcomes. These commenters recommended that NIDRR modify the priority 
to require the RRTC to engage in research on improved measurement and 
collection of data about the environments in which individuals with 
disabilities live.
    Discussion: NIDRR agrees with the commenters' broad point that 
outcomes are a function of the interaction between the individual with 
a disability and the environment in which he or she lives. We also 
agree that research is needed to improve the ability of the disability 
and rehabilitation research field to measure environmental barriers to 
optimal outcomes for individuals with disabilities. However, requiring 
the RRTC to engage in the specific research suggested by the commenters 
is beyond the intended scope of the RRTC funded under this priority. 
While nothing in the priority precludes applicants from analyzing and 
reporting on existing data about the environments in which people with 
disabilities live, or on the intersection between environments and 
individual characteristics that are associated with important outcomes, 
we do not want to limit the number and breadth of applications that are 
submitted under this priority by requiring all applicants to focus 
their activities on environmental measures.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that NIDRR modify the priority 
to require the RRTC focus on the following topics: (1) Household living 
arrangements of individuals with disabilities, (2) the experiences of 
individuals with disabilities as consumers of health care services, and 
(3) violence against individuals with disabilities.
    Discussion: Under paragraph (a) of the priority, applicants may 
choose to focus a portion of their data-quality improvement activities 
in the areas suggested by the commenter. However, we do not want to 
limit the number and breadth of applications that are submitted under 
this priority by requiring all applicants to focus their research 
activities in these specific areas. In addition, the RRTC may consult 
with stakeholders and provide specialized analyses in these areas, 
under the requirements in paragraph (b)(iii) of the priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that NIDRR require the RRTC to 
provide disability statistics training and to guide trainees into 
employment related to the conduct of Federal surveys or into employment 
in disability policy areas where their statistics training can be well 
used.
    Discussion: The training requirement in the opening paragraph of 
the priority is based directly on the Federal regulations that govern 
the administration of the RRTC program. Specifically, 34 CFR 350.22(b) 
requires RRTCs to provide training to rehabilitation personnel (so that 
they may provide services more effectively), and to rehabilitation 
research personnel (so that they may improve their capacity to conduct 
research). In accordance with the requirements in Sec.  350.22(b), the 
RRTC funded under this priority will provide training in the area of 
disability statistics so that trainees will be better producers, or 
consumers, or both, of disability statistics. However, guiding training 
recipients into specific post-training professions or places of work is 
beyond the scope of this priority, the primary purpose of which is to 
advance research and training directed at improving the collection, 
analysis, and use of disability data.
    Changes: None.

Final Priority

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Disability 
Statistics and Demographics

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services establishes a priority for an RRTC on Disability Statistics 
and Demographics. This RRTC must conduct research, knowledge 
translation, training, dissemination, and technical assistance 
activities to advance the use and usefulness of disability statistics 
and demographic data to inform disability policy and the provision of 
services to individuals with disabilities. Under this priority, the 
RRTC must be designed to contribute to the following outcomes:
    (a) National disability data and statistics that are of high 
quality and relevant to improving the lives of individuals with 
disabilities. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by conducting 
analyses, providing recommendations, and optimizing methodologies for 
conducting surveys of individuals with disabilities, including sampling 
techniques, and methods for appropriately interviewing and collecting 
data from individuals with a wide range of disabilities.
    (b) Timely analyses of high-quality, relevant disability and 
demographic statistics to inform the development of disability policies 
and programs. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by:
    (i) Producing secondary analyses of national, State, and 
administrative data that address critical program and service needs.
    (ii) Evaluating progress with regard to national goals for 
individuals with disabilities and their families.
    (iii) Providing statistical consultation, including specialized 
analyses, to facilitate the appropriate use of survey and 
administrative data by policymakers, advocates, individuals with 
disabilities, and other stakeholders.
    (c) Improved access to disability statistics and demographic 
information. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by:
    (i) Serving as a resource on disability statistics and demographics 
for Federal and other government agencies, policymakers, consumers, 
advocates, researchers, and other interested parties.
    (ii) Disseminating research findings in clear and useful formats to 
Federal and other government agencies, policymakers, consumers, 
advocates, researchers, and others to enhance planning, policymaking, 
program administration, and delivery of services to individuals with 
disabilities.

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    (iii) Developing and disseminating an annual report on disability 
in the United States that includes statistics on current status and 
trends related to the prevalence of disabilities, and employment, 
health, community living, and other outcomes of importance in 
monitoring the well-being of individuals with disabilities.

Types of Priorities

    When inviting applications for a competition using one or more 
priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute, 
competitive preference, or invitational through a notice in the Federal 
Register. The effect of each type of priority follows:
    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only 
applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).
    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference 
priority, we give competitive preference to an application by (1) 
awarding additional points, depending on the extent to which the 
application meets the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) 
selecting an application that meets the priority over an application of 
comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(ii)).
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are 
particularly interested in applications that meet the priority. 
However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a 
preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).
    This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional 
priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject 
to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.

    Note:  This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use this priority, we invite applications through 
a notice in the Federal Register.

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether 
this regulatory action is ``significant'' and, therefore, subject to 
the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 
12866 defines a ``significant regulatory action'' as an action likely 
to result in a rule that may--
    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, 
or adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, 
jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or 
tribal governments or communities in a material way (also referred to 
as an ``economically significant'' rule);
    (2) Create serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an 
action taken or planned by another agency;
    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlement grants, 
user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or
    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles stated in the 
Executive order.
    This final regulatory action is not a significant regulatory action 
subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866.
    We have also reviewed this regulatory action under Executive Order 
13563, which supplements and explicitly reaffirms the principles, 
structures, and definitions governing regulatory review established in 
Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, Executive Order 
13563 requires that an agency--
    (1) Propose or adopt regulations only upon a reasoned determination 
that their benefits justify their costs (recognizing that some benefits 
and costs are difficult to quantify);
    (2) Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, 
consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives and taking into 
account--among other things and to the extent practicable--the costs of 
cumulative regulations;
    (3) In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select 
those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential 
economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other 
advantages; distributive impacts; and equity);
    (4) To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather 
than the behavior or manner of compliance a regulated entity must 
adopt; and
    (5) Identify and assess available alternatives to direct 
regulation, including economic incentives--such as user fees or 
marketable permits--to encourage the desired behavior, or provide 
information that enables the public to make choices.
    Executive Order 13563 also requires an agency ``to use the best 
available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future 
benefits and costs as accurately as possible.'' The Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB has emphasized that these 
techniques may include ``identifying changing future compliance costs 
that might result from technological innovation or anticipated 
behavioral changes.''
    We are issuing this final priority only upon a reasoned 
determination that its benefits justify its costs. In choosing among 
alternative regulatory approaches, we selected those approaches that 
maximize net benefits. Based on the analysis that follows, the 
Department believes that this proposed priority is consistent with the 
principles in Executive Order 13563.
    We also have determined that this regulatory action does not unduly 
interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of 
their governmental functions.
    In accordance with both Executive orders, the Department has 
assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and 
qualitative, of this regulatory action. The potential costs are those 
resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as 
necessary for administering the Department's programs and activities.
    The benefits of the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects 
and Centers Programs have been well established over the years, as 
projects similar to the one envisioned by the final priority have been 
completed successfully. Establishing new RRTCs based on the final 
priority will generate new knowledge through research and development 
and improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. The new RRTCs 
will generate, disseminate, and promote the use of new information that 
will improve the options for individuals with disabilities to fully 
participate in their communities.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or compact disc) by contacting the Grants and Contracts 
Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., 
Room 5075, PCP, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: (202) 245-7363. 
If you use a TDD or TTY, call the FRS, toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.
    Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this 
document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free 
Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the 
Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System 
at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well 
as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal 
Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF 
you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the 
site.
    You may also access documents of the Department published in the 
Federal

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Register by using the article search feature at: 
www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search 
feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published 
by the Department.

    Dated: May 15, 2013.
Michael K. Yudin,
Delegated the authority to perform the functions and the duties of the 
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 2013-11988 Filed 5-17-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P