[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 129 (Friday, July 5, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 40458-40459]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-16190]



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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

[Docket ID ED-2013-OSERS-0083]


American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program; 
Notice of Tribal Consultation and Request for Comments

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

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: The Department seeks input from tribal officials, tribal 
governments, tribal organizations, and affected tribal members on the 
Department's interpretation of the term ``reservation'' in section 
121(c) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The 
Department is also exploring additional measures of consultation, 
including regional face-to-face meetings to be held in August and 
September of 2013.

DATES: The Department must receive your comments on or before September 
3, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal 
or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. We will not 
accept comments submitted by fax or by email or those submitted after 
the comment period. To ensure that we do not receive duplicate copies, 
please submit your comments only once.
    In addition, please include the Docket ID at the top of your 
comments.
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov to 
submit your comments electronically. Information on using 
Regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing agency documents, 
submitting comments, and viewing the docket, is available on the site 
under ``Are you new to the site?''
     Postal Mail, Commercial Delivery, or Hand Delivery: If you 
mail or deliver your comments about this notice, address them to August 
Martin, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 
5049, Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2800.

    Privacy Note: The Department's policy is to make all comments 
received from members of the public available for public viewing in 
their entirety on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at 
www.regulations.gov. Therefore, commenters should be careful to 
include in their comments only information that they wish to make 
publicly available.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: August Martin. Telephone: (202) 245-
7410, or by email: august.martin@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:
    Invitation to Comment: The Rehabilitation Services Administration 
(RSA) invites you to submit comments regarding this notice. 
Specifically, we invite comments regarding the effect of a possible 
change in how the Department interprets the definition of the term 
``reservation'' that is used to determine eligibility for a grant under 
the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services (AIVRS) program.
    Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities in Reviewing the 
Record: On request we will provide an appropriate accommodation or 
auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who needs assistance 
to review the comments or other documents in the public record for this 
notice of tribal consultation. If you want to schedule an appointment 
for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please contact the 
person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Background: On May 9, 2012, the U.S. Government Accountability 
Office (GAO) released a report, ``Federal Funding for Non-Federally 
Recognized Tribes,'' GAO-12-348 (available at www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-348), in which a question was raised concerning the Department's 
practice for determining eligibility under the AIVRS program.
    In this report, the GAO questioned whether the Department's 
interpretation of the term ``reservation,'' when used in determining 
eligibility for grants under the AIVRS program, was broader than the 
term's statutory definition. Specifically, the GAO noted that there are 
substantial questions about the eligibility for AIVRS program grants of 
State-recognized tribes that are not located on State reservations but 
on a defined and contiguous area of land where there is a concentration 
of tribal members and in which the tribe is providing structured 
activities and services, such as the tribal service areas identified in 
a tribe's grant application. The GAO recommended that the Secretary 
review the eligibility requirements for AIVRS grants and take 
appropriate action on grants made to tribes that do not have Federal or 
State reservations.
    Therefore, the Department seeks input from tribal officials, tribal 
governments, tribal organizations, and affected tribal members 
regarding a possible change in the Department's interpretation of 
``reservation,'' as that term is used in determining AVIRS program 
grant eligibility, and that would align with the GAO interpretation and 
include only those areas of land specifically listed in the statutory 
definition.
    This notice complies with Executive Order 13175, which requires 
tribal consultation and collaboration with tribal officials in the 
development of Federal policies that have tribal implications.
    The Definition of ``Reservation'':
    Section 121(a) of the Act (29 U.S.C. 741) provides that eligible 
applicants for an AIVRS grant are the governing bodies of Indian tribes 
located on Federal and State reservations (and consortia of such 
governing bodies). Section 121(c) of the Act further provides that the 
term ``reservation'' includes Indian reservations, public domain Indian 
allotments, former Indian reservations in Oklahoma, and land held by 
incorporated Native groups, regional corporations, and village 
corporations under the provisions of the Alaska Native Claims 
Settlement Act. In its regulations in 34 CFR 371.4(b), the Department 
defines ``reservation'' as ``a Federal or State Indian reservation, 
public domain Indian allotment, former Indian reservation in Oklahoma, 
and land held by incorporated Native groups, regional corporations and 
village corporations under the provisions of the Alaska Native Claims 
Settlement Act.''
    In interpreting the term ``reservation,'' the Department has 
included tribes that are located on a defined and contiguous area of 
land where there is a concentration of tribal members and in which the 
tribe is providing structured activities and services, such as the 
tribal service areas identified in a tribe's grant application. Because 
the statutory definition of ``reservation'' uses the term ``include,'' 
the Department has interpreted the term to mean that the list of land 
areas in the statutory definition is not exhaustive; and, as a result, 
the Department has the authority to include other land areas that are 
consistent with both the purpose of the program and the list of land 
areas provided in the statute.
    The Department is considering narrowing its interpretation of the 
statutory definition of ``reservation'' to align with the GAO 
interpretation, which would include only those areas of land 
specifically listed in the statutory definition--Indian reservations, 
public domain Indian allotments, former Indian reservations in 
Oklahoma, and land held by incorporated Native groups, regional 
corporations, and village corporations under the provisions of the 
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

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    With this possible change, federally recognized tribes without 
Federal reservations and State recognized tribes without State 
reservations (or other areas of land specifically listed in the 
statutory definition of ``reservation'') would no longer be eligible to 
apply for grants under the AIVRS program.
    Therefore, the Department is seeking comments that address three 
areas:
    (1) The Department is interested in the potential effect of 
limiting eligibility for AVIRS program grants to those Indian tribes 
(and consortia of tribes) located on Federal and State reservations and 
the other land areas specifically listed in the statutory definition of 
``reservation.''
    (2) For tribes that currently provide services under this program 
and that would not meet the revised interpretation of ``reservation,'' 
the Department is particularly interested in whether individuals 
currently receiving services from these tribes would continue to 
receive vocational rehabilitation services to assist them to return to 
work; and, if so, how and where the clients might obtain these 
services.
    (3) The Department is also interested in how a revised 
interpretation of ``reservation'' would affect the pool of potential 
applicants for the AIVRS program, including tribes that have not 
previously applied but may consider applying for an AIVRS grant.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the contact person listed 
under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    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 this 
site.
    You may also access documents of the Department published in the 
Federal Register by using the article search feature at: 
www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search 
feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published 
by the Department.

    Dated: July 1, 2013.
Michael K. Yudin,
Delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the 
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 2013-16190 Filed 7-3-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P