[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 120 (Monday, June 23, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 35502-35507]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-14387]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Parts 369 and 371

[Docket ID ED-2013-OSERS-0083]
RIN 1820-AB66


Vocational Rehabilitation Services Projects for American Indians 
With Disabilities

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

ACTION: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Secretary proposes to amend the definition of 
``reservation'' under the regulations governing the American Indian 
Vocational Rehabilitation Services (AIVRS) program in one of two ways.
    The first proposed amendment, ``Alternative A,'' would conform the 
definition to the Department's current interpretation and practices. In 
order to be eligible for a grant, a federally or State recognized tribe 
must be located on a Federal or State reservation. The statutory 
definition of ``reservation'' includes Federal or State 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. The Department's ``Alternative 
A'' definition would also include as a reservation ``defined areas of 
land recognized by a State or the Federal Government where there is a 
concentration of tribal members and on which the tribal government is 
providing structured activities and services.''
    The second proposed amendment to the regulatory definition of 
``reservation,'' ``Alternative B,'' would limit the areas of land the 
Department considers to be reservations to those that are listed in the 
statutory definition of ``reservation'': Federal or State Indian 
reservations; public domain Indian allotments; former Indian 
reservations in Oklahoma; or land held by incorporated Native groups, 
regional corporations, and village corporations under the provisions of 
the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
    The Secretary seeks comment on both alternatives.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before August 22, 2014.

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 these proposed regulations, address 
them to Thomas Finch, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue 
SW., Room 5147 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: Thomas Finch, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5147, Potomac Center Plaza 
(PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2800. Telephone: (202) 245-7343, or by 
email: Tom.Finch@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: We invite you to submit comments regarding 
these proposed regulations. Specifically, we invite comments from 
tribal officials, tribal governments, tribal organizations, affected 
tribal members, State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies, VR 
counselors, and all other concerned parties.
    We also invite you to assist us in complying with the specific 
requirements of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 and their overall 
requirement of reducing regulatory burden that might result from these 
proposed regulations. Please let us know of any further ways we could 
reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while preserving 
the effective and efficient administration of the Department's programs 
and activities.
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about these proposed regulations by accessing Regulations.gov. 
You may also inspect the comments in person in room 5147 Potomac Center 
Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2800, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. 
Washington, DC time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 
holidays. Please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the 
Rulemaking 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 rulemaking record for these proposed regulations. 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

    Under section 121(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended 
(the Rehabilitation Act) (29 U.S.C. 741(a)), the RSA Commissioner may 
make grants to the governing bodies of Indian tribes located on Federal 
and

[[Page 35503]]

State reservations (and consortia of such governing bodies) to pay 90 
percent of the costs of VR services for American Indians who are 
individuals with disabilities residing on or near such reservations. 
The purpose of the program is for the tribes to provide VR services to 
these individuals so that they can prepare for and engage in gainful 
employment.
    Section 121(c) of the Rehabilitation Act defines the term 
``reservation'' as: ``The term `reservation' includes Indian 
reservations, public domain Indian allotments, and 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.'' The current regulatory 
definition of ``reservation'' under the AIVRS program at 34 CFR 
371.4(b) is similar: ``Reservation means 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.''
    The Department currently interprets the term ``includes'' in the 
statutory definition of ``reservation'' to mean that the list of land 
areas in the statute is not exhaustive. As a result, the Department 
considers other land areas that it determines are consistent with both 
the purpose of the program and the list of land areas provided in the 
statute to be within the meaning of ``reservation.'' Thus, the 
Department's longstanding interpretation of the statute is that tribes 
that are located on a defined and contiguous (i.e. attached, bordering, 
adjacent) area of land where there is a concentration of tribal members 
and on which the tribal government is providing structured activities 
and services meet the statutory definition of ``reservation.''
    From FY 2007 through FY 2011, five grantees, serving six tribes, 
were awarded AIVRS grants using the Department's long-standing 
interpretation of ``reservation.'' In FY 2013, these grantees provided 
services to 559 American Indians with disabilities. The Department has 
received no complaints about the grantees' eligibility at any time 
during the life of these grants.
    We are proposing Alternative A because the current definition of 
``reservation'' in Sec.  371.4(b) does not clearly reflect our 
statutory interpretation. The Department seeks comment on the amended 
definition in Alternative A that would make its current interpretation 
explicit.
    The proposed Alternative B definition of ``reservation'' arises out 
of a May 9, 2012, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, 
``Federal Funding for Non-Federally Recognized Tribes,'' GAO-12-348 
(available at www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-348). The report questions 
whether the Department's interpretation of ``reservation'' is broader 
than the term's statutory definition.
    Specifically, the GAO questioned the Department's view that a 
State-recognized tribe is eligible for AIVRS program grants when it is 
not located on a State reservation but on a defined area of land where 
there is a concentration of tribal members and on which the tribal 
government is providing structured activities and services--described 
in the tribal service area outlined in a tribe's grant application. The 
Department provided comments on the GAO's draft report supporting its 
current practice. The GAO, in its final report, recommended that the 
Secretary review the eligibility requirements for AIVRS grants and take 
appropriate action.
    The Department has done so, and here continues to consider how best 
to interpret the statute in light of the purposes of the program. The 
Department is therefore also seeking comment on a proposed definition 
of ``reservation'' that limits eligibility to tribes located only on 
those areas of land specifically identified in the statutory 
definition--Alternative B. This proposed change would align the 
Department's interpretation of ``reservation'' in the AIVRS program 
with that of the GAO.
    In considering these alternative definitions of ``reservation'' in 
the AIVRS program, we have consulted internally, as well as with 
officials of other Federal government agencies. In addition, as 
required by Executive Order 13175, the Department consulted tribal 
officials, tribal governments, tribal organizations, and affected 
tribal members regarding this matter. The tribal consultation conducted 
by the Department is described further in the Tribal Summary Impact 
Statement section of this notice.
    Finally, the same definition of ``reservation'' found in 34 CFR 
371.4(b) is included in 34 CFR 369.4(b), the regulations governing 
special project activities, including the AIVRS program, that provide 
vocational rehabilitation services. We therefore propose conforming 
amendments to 34 CFR 369.4.

Summary of Proposed Changes

    The proposed regulation in Alternative A would amend Sec.  371.4(b) 
to reflect the Department's current interpretation and practices. 
Tribes eligible for AIVRS grants would continue to be those located on 
land specifically identified in the statute, as well as those located 
on a defined area of land recognized by a State or the Federal 
Government where there is a concentration of tribal members and on 
which the tribal government is providing structured activities and 
services.
    In refining our current interpretation in these proposed 
regulations, we have removed the requirement that the tribal lands be 
contiguous and added the requirement that they be recognized by a State 
or the Federal Government. While in the past, many of the tribal lands 
of tribes that received grants under our current interpretation have 
been contiguous, we have determined that requiring the lands to be 
contiguous is not essential to be considered a ``reservation'' for the 
purposes of the AIVRS program. We believe that, in order to have 
similar characteristics to a reservation, the tribal lands must be 
located on a defined area of land recognized by a State or the Federal 
Government where there is a concentration of tribal members and on 
which the tribal government is providing structured activities and 
services. We understand that some tribal lands so recognized are not 
necessarily contiguous.
    The proposed regulation in Alternative B would limit eligibility to 
tribes located only on those areas of land specifically identified in 
the statutory definition. Statute: Section 121(a) of the Rehabilitation 
Act authorizes the RSA Commissioner to ``make grants to the governing 
bodies of Indian tribes located on Federal and State reservations (and 
consortia of such governing bodies) to pay 90 percent of the costs of 
vocational rehabilitation services for American Indians who are 
individuals with disabilities residing on or near such reservations.'' 
Section 121(c) of the Rehabilitation Act defines the term 
``reservation'' as: ``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.''
    Current Regulations: Section 371.2 of the current regulations 
implementing section 121 of the Rehabilitation Act

[[Page 35504]]

provides that applications may be made only by the governing bodies of 
Indian tribes and consortia of those governing bodies located on 
Federal and State reservations. Current Sec.  371.4(b) 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.''
    Proposed Regulations: Under proposed Alternative A, we would amend 
current Sec.  371.4 to reflect more clearly the Department's current 
eligibility determination practices and interpretation of 
``reservation.'' Specifically, we would amend the definition of 
``reservation'' to include ``a defined area of land recognized by a 
State or the Federal Government where there is a concentration of 
tribal members and on which the tribal government is providing 
structured activities and services.'' This definition would include 
lands identified in the U.S. Census as a State-designated tribal 
statistical area or a tribal-designated statistical area and lands 
designated as tribal service areas by statute, judicial decision, or 
administrative determination.
    Under proposed Alternative B, we would amend current Sec.  371.4 to 
state that only those land areas specifically listed in the statutory 
definition of ``reservation'' qualify as a reservation. Consequently, 
under Sec.  371.2, only those tribes that are located on land areas 
that are listed under the definition of ``reservation'' would be 
eligible to apply for a grant under the AIVRS program. This alternative 
would constitute a change in the Department's interpretation such that 
federally recognized tribes without Federal reservations, State 
recognized tribes without State reservations, or other areas of land 
not specifically listed in the statutory definition of ``reservation'' 
would not be eligible to apply for grants under the AIVRS program.
    Reasons: The Department is proposing two alternative regulatory 
interpretations of the statutory definition of ``reservation'' in the 
AIVRS program because we believe that the statute is capable of these 
different interpretations, and we are seeking public comment on both of 
them, including their policy ramifications, to inform our decision.
    The statutory definition of ``reservation'' specifically includes 
land areas that meet the requirements for a reservation (past or 
present). Use of the term ``includes'' in the definition, however, 
indicates that the list need not be exhaustive. Proposed Alternative A 
areas of land would be identified by the Federal or State Government as 
discrete areas of land in which tribes provide governmental services to 
their members, although they do not share all of the characteristics of 
the areas of land listed in the statute.
    For example, tribal land areas proposed as ``reservations'' in 
Alternative A are identified by States (in the case of State-designated 
tribal statistical areas) or by federally recognized Indian tribes (in 
the case of tribal designated statistical areas) and are accepted by 
the U.S. Census Bureau, which recognizes them as compact and contiguous 
areas of land that contain a concentration of people who identify with 
the tribe and in which there is structured or organized tribal 
activity. Other service areas that would be covered by proposed 
Alternative A are defined by State or Federal statute. See, e.g., the 
Ponca Restoration Act, which establishes a service area for members of 
the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska in various counties in Nebraska, Iowa, and 
South Dakota. 25 U.S.C. 983c. Still other areas identified by judicial 
decision or administrative determination could be covered. Please refer 
to the discussion of proposed Alternative B below to understand how the 
characteristics of these types of land areas differ from the land areas 
specified in the statute.
    Arguably, including these areas of land in addition to those listed 
in the statute furthers the purpose of the AIVRS program, which the 
Department administers with the goal of assisting tribes to provide 
vocational rehabilitation services in a culturally sensitive manner to 
as many American Indians with disabilities as possible, resulting in 
meaningful employment.
    In proposed Alternative B, we are considering the interpretation 
recommended by GAO in its report, that the list of land areas contained 
in the statutory definition of ``reservation'' should be exclusive and 
no other areas of land can be ``reservations'' under the AIVRS program. 
There may be some support for such an interpretation in other Federal 
statutes we have examined that authorize financial assistance to Indian 
tribes and that have been interpreted to include the tribes whose 
eligibility is at issue here. These statutes use language defining the 
eligibility of tribes that is broader than the AIVRS governing statute 
and that authorizes financial assistance to tribes with or without 
reservations. These statutes use either the phrase ``including but not 
limited to'' or explicitly include the authority to provide assistance, 
for example, to Indian organizations or public or private nonprofit 
agencies serving Indians. See, e.g., Native Americans Program Act of 
1974, 42 U.S.C. 2991b and the Indian Health Care statute, 25 U.S.C. 
1644(c).
    The Department acknowledges that the areas of land it currently 
accepts and proposes to include in Alternative A as ``reservations'' 
are not specifically identified in the statute and are distinguishable 
in two respects. All of the statutorily specified land areas--
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--are (or were) formally 
recognized and set aside by the Federal or State government for use by 
Indians and are (or were) subject to Federal or State supervision.
    The additional areas of land proposed in Alternative A are not 
located on reservations, or on any of the other areas listed in the 
statute as reservations, and do not share these characteristics: They 
are not set aside for Indians by the Federal or State government, and 
neither the Federal nor State governments have oversight over them. One 
reason for limiting AIVRS eligibility to only those tribes that have 
reservations or other land areas listed in the statute, is to contain 
the program to tribes that have a certain relationship with a State or 
the Federal Government that the traditional reservation status implies.
    Because we believe either interpretation is supportable, we propose 
alternative regulations that would each clarify eligibility for the 
program but have different consequences for affected tribes. We welcome 
comment on both.

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

[[Page 35505]]

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 proposed regulatory action is a significant regulatory action 
subject to review by OMB under section 3(f)(4) of Executive Order 
12866.
    We have also reviewed these regulations 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 these proposed regulations only on a reasoned 
determination that their benefits would justify their 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 these proposed regulations are 
consistent with the principles in Executive Order 13563.
    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 associated 
with this regulatory action are those resulting from our interpretation 
of statutory requirements and those we have determined are necessary 
for administering the Department's programs and activities.
    The amendment to the regulatory definition of ``reservation'' 
proposed in Alternative A would produce no change in costs or benefits 
as it conforms the definition to the Department's current 
interpretation and practices. The proposed change to ``reservation'' in 
Alternative B would affect five current grantees (six tribes, as one 
grantee is a consortium of two tribes) that currently receive funding 
through the AIVRS program and at least 29 other federally or state-
recognized tribes that we have identified through census data. These 
tribes would be significantly affected in that they would not be 
eligible to apply for grants under the AIVRS program. Also 
significantly affected would be the American Indians with disabilities 
(559 in FY 2013) who would have sought VR services through these 
tribes.
    The obvious sources to continue to provide VR services to American 
Indians with disabilities are the State VR programs. Section 121(b)(3) 
of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires States to 
``provide vocational rehabilitation services under its State plan to 
American Indians residing on or near a reservation whenever such State 
includes any such American Indians in its State population under 
section 110(a)(1).''
    Of the six tribes that would be immediately affected by the change 
in proposed Alternative B, two tribes are in Washington State, three 
tribes are in Louisiana, and one tribe is in North Carolina. 
Information obtained from discussions with State VR Directors suggests 
that the State Division of Rehabilitation Services in Washington would 
be able to serve consumers currently being served by the two AIVRS 
grantees in that State, whereas Louisiana and North Carolina indicated 
that they would not be able to absorb the large number of individuals 
who would need to be served. In addition, Louisiana is under an order 
of selection whereby it only serves individuals with the most severe or 
significant disabilities. Therefore, it is unlikely that the current 
121 consumers who do not have the most significant disabilities served 
by that project would be able to receive VR services under an order of 
selection.
    On the other hand, because new grantees would replace the current 
grantees and provide VR services to American Indians with disabilities 
who need them in order to secure or maintain employment, the change 
would primarily involve a shift of resources among projects. Thus, 
there may not be a net effect in terms of the purpose of the program, 
which is to serve and place American Indians with disabilities into 
competitive employment.
    In addition, the pool of eligible applicants for a grant under the 
AIVRS program includes all federally- and State-recognized tribes that 
are located on reservations as defined specifically by the statute. 
This is a large majority of the tribes. Currently, RSA provides funds 
to 85 tribal VR programs to provide VR services to American Indians 
with disabilities; consequently, the pool of potential applicants is 
still quite large, and the Department has information that eligible 
tribes that have not previously applied for an AIVRS grant are 
preparing to do so.
    Under the capacity-building projects in section 21 of the 
Rehabilitation Act, the Department awards grants to provide support to 
traditionally underserved populations by conducting research, training, 
technical assistance, or a related activity to improve services 
provided under the Act. The grants included a project that conducted 
grant-writing workshops for American Indian tribes. The Director of 
this project indicated that, at a minimum, there are at least 12 
eligible tribes that have attended the grant writing workshops that 
have not previously submitted applications for this program, and the 
tribes have expressed an intent to apply when the Department holds its 
next competition.
    In summary, proposed Alternative B would have a major effect on a 
small number of current and future grantees. However, we would expect 
to fund new grantees at the same level as the current grantees. 
Therefore, the net effect of this proposed change is likely to be that 
it will not have a noticeable effect on the number of American Indians 
with disabilities served and placed in employment by the AIVRS program.

[[Page 35506]]

Clarity of the Regulations

    Executive Order 12866 and the Presidential memorandum ``Plain 
Language in Government Writing'' require each agency to write 
regulations that are easy to understand.
    The Secretary invites comments on how to make these proposed 
regulations easier to understand, including answers to questions such 
as the following:
     Are the requirements in the proposed regulations clearly 
stated?
     Do the proposed regulations contain technical terms or 
other wording that interferes with their clarity?
     Does the format of the proposed regulations (grouping and 
order of sections, use of headings, paragraphing, etc.) aid or reduce 
their clarity?
     Would the proposed regulations be easier to understand if 
we divided them into more (but shorter) sections? (A ``section'' is 
preceded by the symbol ``Sec.  '' and a numbered heading; for example, 
Sec.  350.6.)
     Could the description of the proposed regulations in the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this preamble be more helpful in 
making the proposed regulations easier to understand? If so, how?
     What else could we do to make the proposed regulations 
easier to understand?
    To send any comments that concern how the Department could make 
these proposed regulations easier to understand, see the instructions 
in the ADDRESSES section.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    The Secretary certifies that these proposed regulations would not 
have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
Applicants to RSA's AIVRS program are the governing bodies of Indian 
tribes or consortia of such governing bodies located on Federal and 
State reservations and are not considered small entities under the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This proposed regulation does not contain any information 
collection requirements.

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the 
regulations in 34 CFR part 79.

Tribal Summary Impact Statement

    As the first step in soliciting feedback on a possible change in 
the Department's interpretation of ``reservation'' under the AIVRS 
program, and consistent with Executive Order 13175 entitled 
``Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments,'' the 
Department of Education published a Notice of Tribal Consultation and 
Request for Comments in the Federal Register on July 5, 2013 (78 FR 
40458). That notice sought input from tribal officials, tribal 
governments, tribal organizations, and affected tribal members about a 
possible change in the Department's interpretation of the term of 
``reservation'' as that term is used in determining AIVRS program grant 
eligibility.
    The Department's request seeking input focused on three areas: (1) 
The potential effect on limiting eligibility for AIVRS grants to those 
Indian tribes (and consortia of tribes) located only 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,'' how the individuals receiving those 
services would continue to receive vocational rehabilitation services 
to help them in obtaining employment or returning to work; and (3) how 
a revised interpretation of ``reservation'' might affect the pool of 
potential applicants for the AIVRS program that have not previously 
applied but may consider applying for an AIVRS grant.
    The Department received a total of 72 comments in response to the 
published notice, three of which did not respond directly to the areas 
on which the Department focused. The 69 remaining comments supported 
retaining the Department's current interpretation of ``reservation.'' 
With regard to the three specific areas on which the Department sought 
comment, 58 commenters believed that limiting eligibility to only those 
Indian tribes on Federal or State reservations as defined specifically 
in the statute would result in a loss of services or the availability 
of services to American Indians with disabilities; 25 commenters did 
not believe that the State VR program is as well prepared as the AIVRS 
projects to provide VR services, including traditional healing 
services, in a way that would be culturally sensitive to tribal 
consumers; and 11 commenters believed that a change to the 
interpretation of ``reservation'' would reduce the pool of potential 
applicants.
    As a supplement to the Federal Register notice seeking input, 
program officials from the Department also participated in two face-to-
face Tribal Consultation Listening Sessions that were held in August 
(Smith River, California) and September (Scottsdale, Arizona) 2013. The 
participants were asked to respond to the same three areas identified 
in the Federal Register notice. The comments provided by participants 
during these ``Listening Sessions,'' while much fewer in number, were 
comparable to those received in response to the Federal Register notice 
and were primarily from the same tribes that provided responses to the 
notice. These commenters supported retaining the current interpretation 
of ``reservation.'' They believed that, for those consumers receiving 
services under the AIVRS program, such services would not continue 
because tribal members would be reluctant to seek services from the 
State VR agencies or the agencies' case load would not be able to 
absorb them.
    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 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 
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you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the 
site.
    You may also access documents of the Department published in the 
Federal Register by using the article search feature at: 
www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search 
feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published 
by the Department. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 
84.250.

List of Subjects

34 CFR Part 369

    Grant programs--social programs, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Vocational rehabilitation.

34 CFR Part 371

    Grant programs--Indians, Grant programs--social programs Indians, 
Vocational rehabilitation.

    Dated: June 16, 2014.
Michael K. Yudin,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services.
    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Secretary proposes 
to amend parts 369 and 371 of title 34 of

[[Page 35507]]

the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

PART 369--VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SERVICE PROJECTS

0
1. The authority citation for part 369 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  29 U.S.C. 7011(c), 732, 750, 777(a)(1), 777b, 777f 
and 795g, unless otherwise noted.

0
2. Section 369.4(b) is amended by revising the definition of 
``Reservation'' to read as follows:

[Alternative A]


Sec.  369.4  What definitions apply to these programs?

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    Reservation means a Federal or State Indian reservation; public 
domain Indian allotment; former Indian reservation in Oklahoma; land 
held by incorporated Native groups, regional corporations, and village 
corporations under the provisions of the Alaska Native Claims 
Settlement Act; or a defined area of land recognized by a State or the 
Federal Government where there is a concentration of tribal members and 
on which the tribal government is providing structured activities and 
services.
* * * * *

[Alternative B]


Sec.  369.4  What definitions apply to this program?

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    Reservation means only 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.
* * * * *

PART 371--VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SERVICES PROJECTS FOR AMERICAN 
INDIANS WITH DISABILITIES

0
3. The authority citation for part 371 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  29 U.S.C. 709(c) and 741, unless otherwise noted.

0
4. Section 371.4(b) is amended by revising the definition of 
``Reservation'' to read as follows:

[Alternative A]


Sec.  371.4  What definitions apply to this program?

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    Reservation means a Federal or State Indian reservation; public 
domain Indian allotment; former Indian reservation in Oklahoma; land 
held by incorporated Native groups, regional corporations, and village 
corporations under the provisions of the Alaska Native Claims 
Settlement Act; or a defined area of land recognized by a State or the 
Federal Government where there is a concentration of tribal members and 
on which the tribal government is providing structured activities and 
services.
* * * * *

[Alternative B]


Sec.  371.4  What definitions apply to this program?

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    Reservation means only 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.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2014-14387 Filed 6-20-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P