[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 112 (Monday, June 11, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 34363-34367]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-14115]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION


Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers 
Program; Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Centers

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

ACTION: Notice.

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    Overview Information:

CFDA Number: 84.133A-5.

    Final priority; National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research (NIDRR)--Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and 
Centers Program--Disability Rehabilitation Research Project (DRRP)--
Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Centers.
SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services announces a priority for the Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered by 
the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
(NIDRR). Specifically, this notice announces a priority for Traumatic 
Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) Centers. The Assistant Secretary may 
use this priority for a competition in fiscal year (FY) 2012 and later 
years. We take this action to focus research attention on areas of 
national need.

DATES: Effective Date: This priority is effective July 11, 2012.

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 currently 
approved Long-Range Plan (Plan). The Plan, which was published in the 
Federal Register on February 15, 2006 (71 FR 8165), can be accessed on 
the Internet at the following site: www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/nidrr/policy.html.
    Through the implementation of the Plan, NIDRR seeks to: (1) Improve 
the quality and utility of disability and rehabilitation research; (2) 
foster an exchange of expertise, information, and training to 
facilitate the advancement of knowledge and understanding of the unique 
needs of traditionally underserved populations; (3) determine best 
strategies and programs to improve rehabilitation outcomes for 
underserved populations; (4) identify research gaps; (5) identify 
mechanisms of integrating research and practice; and (6) disseminate 
findings.
    This notice announces a final priority that NIDRR intends to use 
for a DRRP competition in FY 2012 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 of 
individuals with disabilities into society, employment, independent 
living, family support, and promote 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).

Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRPs)

    The purpose of DRRPs, which are funded under NIDRR's Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program, is to improve the 
effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 
1973, as amended, by developing methods, procedures, and rehabilitation 
technologies that advance a wide range of independent living and 
employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, especially 
individuals with the most severe disabilities. DRRPs

[[Page 34364]]

carry out one or more of the following types of activities, as 
specified and defined in 34 CFR 350.13 through 350.19: Research, 
training, demonstration, development, dissemination, utilization, and 
technical assistance. Additional information on DRRPs can be found at: 
http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/res-program.html#DRRP.

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(a).
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.
    We published a notice of proposed priority for this program in the 
Federal Register on March 7, 2012 (77 FR 13578). That notice contained 
background information and our reasons for proposing the particular 
priority.
    Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the notice of 
proposed priority, four parties submitted comments on the proposed 
priority.
    Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes. In 
addition, we do not address general comments that raised concerns not 
directly related to the proposed priority.
    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 commenter requested that NIDRR revise paragraph (a) of 
the priority to identify standards or guidelines for clinical care that 
a grantee must follow when meeting this requirement. In addition, the 
commenter requested that NIDRR revise the priority to include the 
further development of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines as 
an area of research funded under this priority.
    Discussion: NIDRR does not have a sufficient basis for requiring 
that its TBIMS Centers adopt specific guidelines. However, we agree 
that it is helpful to clarify in the priority that TBIMS centers may 
adopt practice guidelines as standards. Using standard TBIMS procedures 
of deliberation and voting, the TBIMs Project Directors could choose to 
adopt practice guidelines to guide care within the TBIMS Centers. NIDRR 
expects that the research conducted in the TBIMS Centers will 
contribute to the development of evidence-based rehabilitation 
practices through the advancement of knowledge at any stage of research 
(see NIDRR's proposed Long-Range Plan).
    Changes: NIDRR has amended paragraph (a) to clarify that the TBIMS 
Centers may adopt practice guidelines as standards within the model 
systems. NIDRR also amended paragraph (c) to clarify that NIDRR expects 
that research projects will contribute to the development of evidence-
based TBI rehabilitation.
    Comment: One commenter asked several questions regarding proposed 
paragraph (g) of the priority, which would require grantees to spend 
$5,000 of their total budget towards the costs of a state-of-the-
science conference. The commenter asked whether these funds must be 
used to organize the conference or whether they could be used to 
support travel to the conference. The commenter also asked for 
clarification regarding the grant years and budget category (training 
vs. research) in which these funds could be budgeted. Finally, the 
commenter asked about the title and scope of the state-of-the-science 
conference; specifically, the commenter asked whether the funds would 
be used to support a ``4th Interagency Conference on TBI''.
    Discussion: NIDRR has decided to withdraw the proposed requirement 
that TBIMS Centers budget to support a state-of-the science conference. 
Instead, NIDRR is adding language to paragraph (g) of the priority that 
suggests including a state-of-the-science meeting as one possible means 
of collaboratively conducting knowledge translation activities that 
might be used to disseminate research findings from the TBIMS Centers 
program. TBIMS Centers have the freedom to determine the amount of 
funds that they might set aside for such activities, including any 
activities conducted in conjunction with the Model Systems Knowledge 
Translation Center.
    Changes: NIDRR has removed the requirement in proposed paragraph 
(g) of the priority and redesignated the lettering of the following 
paragraphs of the final priority accordingly. Language has been added 
to paragraph (g) of the final priority to provide the option that 
state-of-the-science meetings could be one means of facilitating 
dissemination of research findings to stakeholders.
    Comment: One commenter asked how NIDRR would assess applicants' 
capacity to participate in multi-site collaborative research as 
required in proposed paragraph (e) of the priority.
    Discussion: Peer reviewers will use selection criteria under 34 CFR 
350.54 to evaluate the quality of applications under this program, 
including applicants' descriptions of their capacity to engage in 
collaborative research. Peer review criteria under 34 CFR 350.54(k) are 
directly applicable to the evaluation of applicants' capacity to engage 
in multi-site collaborative research.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Regarding paragraph (d) of the proposed priority, one 
commenter requested clarification on the distinction between multi-site 
research conducted under this priority (the TBIMS Centers Program 
Priority (CFDA 84.133A-5)) and the research conducted under the 
separately-funded TBIMS Collaborative Priority (CFDA 84.133A-4, 
published in the Federal Register on February 1, 2008 (73 FR 6132)). 
Specifically, the commenter asked whether NIDRR intended to disallow 
current TBIMS Collaborative grantees from proposing a TBIMS Centers 
module project under this priority.
    Discussion: NIDRR does not intend to prohibit any center funded 
under the FY 2008-2012 TBIMS Collaborative competition (CFDA 84.133A-4) 
from applying under the FY 2012 competition using this priority. If a 
TBIMS Collaborative grantee is also awarded a FY 2012 TBIMS Center 
grant under this priority, it would be required to participate as a 
research collaborator in at least one multi-site module project under 
paragraph (d) of this priority. Its participation in the multi-site 
module project funded under this priority would need to be distinct 
from the multi-site research conducted under its TBIMS Collaborative 
grant.
    Changes: NIDRR has revised paragraph (d) of the final priority to 
clarify that the multi-site module research activities funded under 
this priority must not be part of a current TBIMS Multi-Site 
Collaborative Project, which the Department funded under a separate 
priority.
    Comment: One commenter requested clarification regarding proposed 
paragraph (i) which requires TBIMS Centers to address the needs of 
individuals with TBI, including individuals from one or more 
``traditionally underserved populations.'' Specifically, the commenter 
asked the Department to clarify what populations would be considered 
``traditionally underserved'' for purposes of this priority.
    Discussion: Paragraph (i) of the proposed priority (redesignated as 
paragraph (h) in the final priority) requires each TBIMS Center to 
address the needs of individuals with traumatic brain injuries, 
including individuals from one or more traditionally underserved 
populations through its project. The Rehabilitation Act authorizes the 
research activities that are administered by NIDRR, including the 
research activities under the TBIMS Centers Program. While section 21 
of the Rehabilitation Act, titled Traditionally Underserved 
Populations,

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does not define the term ``traditionally underserved,'' it does provide 
an in-depth discussion of populations that experience inequitable 
treatment and relatively poor outcomes in the vocational rehabilitation 
process. Section 21 of the Rehabilitation Act specifically mentions 
groups of racial and ethnic minorities with disabilities, including 
Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, and American Indians with 
disabilities. There are a wide variety of underserved populations that 
applicants could focus upon in order to meet this specific requirement. 
NIDRR does not wish to preclude applicants from proposing specific 
populations that are relevant in their region, by providing a specific, 
yet possibly incomplete list of underserved populations. Instead, for 
purposes of this priority, we expect applicants to describe how they 
will fulfill the priority's requirement to address the needs of 
individuals with TBI from traditionally underserved populations, as 
that term is described in section 21 of the Rehabilitation Act. The 
peer review process will evaluate the merits of each application.
    Changes: We have amended this paragraph to include a cross-
reference to the Rehabilitation Act's discussion of traditionally 
underserved populations. Also, paragraph (i) of the proposed priority 
has been redesignated as paragraph (h) in this final priority as part 
of the redesignation referred to earlier in this notice.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: In keeping with prior practice, NIDRR expects the 
project directors of the TBIMS Centers to participate in two project 
directors' meetings per year to be held in the greater Washington, DC 
area. These meetings are critical to the ongoing operations of this 
network of 16 TBIMS Centers and to the advancement of the collaborative 
research funded under this priority. Applicants must budget for the 
costs of having their project directors travel to and participate in 
these meetings. A TBIMS Center may allow additional center staff to 
attend with the TBIMS Center's project director, as long as the staff's 
attendance is essential for the Center to meet its objectives.
    Changes: NIDRR has added paragraph (j) to the final priority. This 
new paragraph states that the TBIMS Center must ensure that its project 
director participates in two annual face-to-face TBIMS Center Project 
Directors' meetings in the greater Washington, DC area.
    Final Priority:

Priority--Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Centers (TBIMS)

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services announces a priority for the funding of Traumatic Brain Injury 
Model Systems (TBIMS) Centers under the Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research Projects (DRRP) program. The TBIMS Centers must provide 
comprehensive, multidisciplinary services to individuals with traumatic 
brain injury (TBI) and conduct research that contributes to the 
development of evidence-based rehabilitation interventions and clinical 
and practice guidelines.
    For purposes of this priority, the term traumatic brain injury or 
TBI is defined as damage to brain tissue caused by an external 
mechanical force as evidenced by loss of consciousness or post-
traumatic amnesia due to brain trauma or by objective neurological 
findings that can be reasonably attributed to TBI on physical 
examination or mental status examination. Both penetrating and non-
penetrating wounds that fit these criteria are included, but, primary 
anoxic encephalopathy is not.
    The TBIMS Centers must generate new knowledge that can be used to 
improve outcomes of individuals with TBI in one or more domains 
identified in NIDRR's currently approved Long Range Plan, published in 
the Federal Register on February 15, 2006 (71 FR 8165): Health and 
function, community living and participation, technology, and 
employment. Each TBIMS Center must contribute to this outcome by--
    (a) Providing a multidisciplinary system of rehabilitation care 
specifically designed to meet the needs of individuals with TBI. The 
system must encompass a continuum of care, including emergency medical 
services, acute care services, acute medical rehabilitation services, 
and post-acute services. TBIMs Centers may choose to adopt practice 
guidelines to guide care within the TBIMS Centers, using established 
TBIMS procedures of deliberation and voting for recommendations that 
affect all TBIMS Centers;
    (b) Continuing the assessment of long-term outcomes of individuals 
with TBI by enrolling at least 35 subjects per year into the TBIMS 
database, following established protocols for the collection of 
enrollment and follow-up data on subjects (found at www.tbindsc.org);

    Note: TBIMS Centers will be funded at varying amounts up to the 
maximum award based on the numbers of TBIMS database participants 
from whom TBIMS Centers must collect follow-up data. TBIMS Centers 
that have previously been TBIMS grantees with large numbers of 
database participants will receive more funding within the specified 
range than TBIMS Centers with fewer participants, as determined by 
NIDRR after applicants are selected for funding. Applicants must 
include in their budgets specific estimates of their costs for 
follow-up data collection. Funding will be determined individually 
for each successful applicant, up to the maximum allowed, based upon 
the documented workload associated with the follow-up data 
collection, other costs of the grant, and the overall budget of the 
research project.

    (c) Proposing and conducting at least one, but no more than two, 
site-specific research projects to test innovative approaches to 
treating TBI or to assess outcomes of individuals with TBI. Site-
specific research projects must focus on outcomes in one or more 
domains identified in the Plan: Health and function, community living 
and participation, technology, and employment, and contribute to the 
development of evidence-based TBI rehabilitation practices through the 
advancement of science at any stage of research;

    Note: Applicants who propose more than two site-specific 
research projects will be disqualified.

    (d) Participating as a research collaborator in at least one module 
project. Module projects are research collaborations with one or more 
TBIMS Centers on topics of mutual interest and expertise. Such module 
projects must be carried out as part of the TBIMS Centers' activities. 
The module project research activities funded under this priority must 
not be part of a current TBIMS Multi-Site Collaborative Project, which 
the Department funded under a separate priority (see the notice 
inviting applications, published in the Federal Register on February 1, 
2008 (73 FR 6162) and the associated notice of final priority, 
published in the Federal Register on February 1, 2008 (73 FR 6132));

    Note: Applicants should not propose a specific module project in 
their application. While all TBIMS Centers grantees are required to 
participate as research collaborators in at least one module 
project, they are not required to develop any module project on 
their own. Immediately following the announcement of awards under 
this priority, TBIMS Centers that are interested in proposing module 
projects may identify module topics, identify potential 
collaborators from among the other TBIMS Centers, and propose 
research protocols for the potential modules. At the first TBIMS 
Centers Project Directors' meeting, Project Directors will review, 
discuss, and decide upon specific module projects to implement. 
NIDRR staff will facilitate this post-award discussion and 
negotiation among TBIMS

[[Page 34366]]

Centers grantees. Once these module projects are agreed upon by the 
Project Directors, each TBIMS Center must participate in at least 
one of them.

    (e) Demonstrating, in its application, its capacity to successfully 
engage in multi-site collaborative research on TBI. This capacity 
includes access to research participants, the ability to maintain data 
quality, and the ability to adhere to research protocols;
    (f) Spending at least 15 percent of its annual budget on 
participating in a module project, as described in paragraph (d) of 
this priority;
    (g) Coordinating with the NIDRR-funded Model Systems Knowledge 
Translation Center (MSKTC) (http://www.msktc.org/) to provide 
scientific results and information for dissemination to stakeholders, 
including researchers, clinicians, consumers, and policymakers, using a 
variety of mechanisms that could include state-of-the-science meetings, 
webinars, Web sites, and other approaches;
    (h) Addressing the needs of individuals with TBI, including 
individuals from one or more traditionally underserved populations, as 
discussed in section 21 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. 718;
    (i) Ensuring that the input of individuals with TBI is used to 
shape TBIMS research; and
    (j) Ensuring that its project director participate in two annual 
face-to-face TBIMS Center Project Directors' meetings in the greater 
Washington, DC area.
    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 final 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 on 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 regulatory action 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.
    Summary of potential costs and benefits:
    The benefits of the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects 
and Centers Programs have been well established over the years in that 
similar projects have been completed successfully. This final priority 
will generate new knowledge through research and development.
    Another benefit of this final priority is that the establishment of 
a new DRRP will improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. The 
new DRRP will

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provide support and assistance for NIDRR grantees as they generate, 
disseminate, and promote the use of new information that will improve 
the options for individuals with disabilities to perform regular 
activities of their choice in the community.
    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 a 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 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: June 6, 2012.
Alexa Posny,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 2012-14115 Filed 6-8-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P