[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 37 (Monday, February 25, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 12617-12621]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-04277]



38 CFR Part 64

RIN 2900-AO35

Grants for the Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot (RVCP)

AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) adopts as a final 
rule, without change, the proposal to establish a pilot program known 
as the Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot (RVCP). The RVCP will provide 
grants to eligible community-based organizations and local and State 
government entities to be used by these organizations and entities to 
assist veterans and their families who are transitioning from military 
service to civilian life in rural or underserved communities. VA will 
use information obtained through the pilot program to evaluate the 
effectiveness of using community-based organizations and local and 
State government entities to improve the provision of services to 
transitioning veterans and their families. Five RVCP grants will be 
awarded for a 2-year period in discrete locations pursuant to a Notice 
of Funds Availability (NOFA) to be published in the Federal Register.

DATES: Effective Date: This final rule is effective March 27, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen Malebranche, Veterans Health 
Administration, Office of Interagency Health Affairs (10P5), 810 
Vermont Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20420, telephone (202) 461-6001. 
(This is not a toll-free number.)

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On May 5, 2010, the President signed into 
law the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 
(2010 Act), Public Law 111-163. Section 506(a) of the 2010 Act, 
codified at 38 U.S.C. 523 note, requires VA to establish a pilot

[[Page 12618]]

program to assess the feasibility and advisability of using community-
based organizations and local and State government entities to assist 
veterans and their families who are transitioning from military service 
to civilian life in rural or underserved communities. In addition, 
section 506(c)(2) of the 2010 Act instructs VA to carry out the program 
in five locations to be selected by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. 
In a document published in the Federal Register on July 18, 2012 (77 FR 
42230), VA proposed regulations to establish the RVCP to meet the 
requirements of section 506(a). We provided a 60-day comment period, 
which ended on September 17, 2012, during which we received four 
comments from members of the general public.
    The first commenter indicated support for the pilot and commented 
on the need for monitoring to ensure the success of the program. VA 
appreciates this comment and assures the commenter that the program 
will be carefully monitored and assessed. We do not make any changes to 
the regulation based on this comment.
    A second commenter asked whether five locations will be sufficient 
to carry out the purpose of the pilot and whether outreach can be 
provided to veterans and their families to inform them about the 
availability of RVCP to help them get to VA for their appointments.
    VA is limited by the express language of the 2010 Act to using five 
locations for the RVCP. Section 506(c)(1) of the 2010 Act specifically 
states that ``the pilot program shall be carried out at five locations 
selected by the Secretary for purposes of the pilot program.'' 
Therefore, we cannot expand the RVCP beyond five locations.
    Regarding the commenter's concerns about outreach, outreach is one 
of the four permissible uses of RVCP funds, and this is reflected in 
Sec.  64.6(a)(4), which authorizes grantees to provide, develop or 
deploy strategies to reach transitioning veterans and their families. 
Therefore, we do not make any changes based on this comment.
    A third commenter echoed the issue raised in the previous comment 
regarding the reliance on five sites and stated that ``[t]here is an 
extreme need for this pilot and I congratulate those who are putting 
forth the effort to make this happen. I reviewed the `underserved' 
areas defined within my state of Florida, more specifically in and 
around the Jacksonville area and found that there are areas designated 
as underserved within the metro area. With that said, I would have to 
agree with a commented concern: if five service grants would provide 
the overall benefit and or statistical data in which the grants are 
seeking to obtain?'' VA agrees that there are significant populations 
in metropolitan areas that meet the definition of ``underserved'' as 
set out in the proposed rule. That definition incorporates three of the 
four types of areas that VA must consider in selecting locations for an 
RVCP grant, as set forth in section 506(c)(2) of the 2010 Act. The 
fourth type of area that VA must consider in choosing the five 
locations is rural areas. See Public Law 111-163, Sec. 506(c)(2)(A). In 
the proposed regulations, we did not limit locations to rural areas; 
under Sec.  64.10(b)(3), applicants for grants must show that the 
proposed project location qualifies either as a rural area or as having 
an underserved community. Scoring and selection criteria in Sec.  
64.12(a)(6) weigh these considerations equally. Therefore, we do not 
make any changes to the regulation based on this comment.
    The final commenter asked that VA ``explicitly incorporate 
universities as eligible entities for this grant.'' VA has defined an 
``eligible entity'' for the RVCP grant as a ``community-based 
organization or a local or State government entity.'' A local or State 
operated educational institution would be included under this 
definition. We do not believe it is necessary to revise the rule to 
state this expressly. The commenter has not indicated language in the 
rule that could mislead the public into believing that such 
institutions are excluded, and VA will not exclude them. Therefore, we 
do not make any changes based on this comment.
    Based on the rationale set forth in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
to the proposed rule and in this final rule, VA is adopting the 
proposed rule as a final rule without any change.

Effect of Rulemaking

    Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as revised by this 
final rulemaking, represents VA's implementation of its legal authority 
on this subject. Other than future amendments to this regulation or 
governing statutes, no contrary guidance or procedures are authorized. 
All existing or subsequent VA guidance must be read to conform with 
this rulemaking if possible or, if not possible, such guidance is 
superseded by this rulemaking.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Although this rule contains provisions constituting collections of 
information, at 38 CFR 64.10, under the provisions of the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3521), no new or proposed revised 
collections of information are associated with this final rule. The 
information collection requirements for Sec.  64.10 are currently 
approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and have been 
assigned OMB control numbers 4040-0003, 4040-0004, 4040-0006, 4040-
0007, 4040-0008, 4040-0009, and 4040-0010. The reports required under 
Sec.  64.16 will be collected only from the five award recipients and, 
therefore, do not constitute a collection of information as defined in 
section 3502(3)(A)(i) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, when 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, and other advantages; distributive impacts; 
and equity). Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory 
Review) emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and 
benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility. 
Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) defines a 
``significant regulatory action,'' which requires review by OMB, as 
``any regulatory action that is likely to result in a rule that may: 
(1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or 
adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the 
economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public 
health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or 
communities; (2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere 
with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) Materially alter 
the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan 
programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) 
Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the 
President's priorities, or the principles set forth in this Executive 
    VA has examined the economic, interagency, budgetary, legal, and 
policy implications of this regulatory action, and it has been 
determined not to be a significant regulatory action under Executive 
Order 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Secretary hereby certifies that this final rule does not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 

[[Page 12619]]

they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601-612. 
There will be no negative economic impact on any of the eligible 
entities because the grantees will not be required to provide matching 
funds to obtain the maximum grant allowance. This pilot grant program 
will not impact a substantial number of small entities because only 
five non-renewable grants will be awarded. Therefore, pursuant to 5 
U.S.C. 605(b), this rulemaking is exempt from the initial and final 
regulatory flexibility analysis requirements of sections 603 and 604.

Unfunded Mandates

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

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

    At this time there are no Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance 
numbers and titles for the program affected by this regulation. Catalog 
of Federal Domestic Assistance numbers and titles will be obtained when 
the program is established on the Grants.gov Web site.

Signing Authority

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or designee, approved this 
document and authorized the undersigned to sign and submit the document 
to the Office of the Federal Register for publication electronically as 
an official document of the Department of Veterans Affairs. John R. 
Gingrich, Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, approved this 
document on January 23, 2013, for publication.

List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 64

    Administrative practice and procedure, Disability benefits, Claims, 
Government contracts, Grant programs--health, Grant programs--veterans, 
Health care, Health records, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 

    Dated: February 20, 2013.
Robert C. McFetridge,
Director of Regulation Policy and Management, Office of General 
Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, VA amends 38 CFR chapter I 
by adding part 64 to read as follows:


64.0 Purpose and scope.
64.2 Definitions.
64.4 RVCP grants--general.
64.6 Permissible uses of RVCP grants.
64.8 Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA).
64.10 Application.
64.12 Scoring and selection.
64.14 RVCP grant agreement.
64.16 Reporting.
64.18 Recovery of funds.

    Authority:  38 U.S.C. 501, 523 note.

Sec.  64.0  Purpose and scope.

    (a) Purpose. The Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot (RVCP) program 
implements the requirements of section 506 of the Caregivers and 
Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 to provide grants to 
community-based organizations and local and State government entities 
to assist veterans who are transitioning from military service to 
civilian life in rural or underserved communities and families of such 
    (b) Scope. This part applies only to the administration of the 
RVCP, unless specifically provided otherwise.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 523 note)

Sec.  64.2  Definitions.

    For the purpose of this part and any Notice of Funds Availability 
issued under this part:
    Applicant means an eligible entity that submits an application for 
an RVCP grant as announced in a Notice of Funds Availability.
    Community-based organization means a group that represents a 
community or a significant segment of a community and is engaged in 
meeting community needs.
    Eligible entity means a community-based organization or local or 
State government entity. An eligible entity will be identified as the 
legal entity whose employer identification number is on the Application 
for Federal Assistance (SF 424), even if only a particular component of 
the broader entity is applying for the RVCP grant.
    Grantee means recipient of an RVCP grant.
    Limited access to health care means residing in an area identified 
by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. 
Department of Health and Human Services as ``medically underserved'' or 
having a ``medically underserved population.''
    Local government means a county, municipality, city, town, 
township, or regional government or its components.
    Minority group member means an individual who is Asian American; 
Black; Hispanic; Native American (including American Indian, Alaskan 
Native, and Native Hawaiian); or Pacific-Islander American.
    Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) means a Notice published by VA 
in the Federal Register alerting eligible entities of the availability 
of RVCP grants and containing important information about the RVCP 
grant application process in accordance with Sec.  64.8.
    Participant means a veteran or a member of a veteran's family who 
receives services for which an RVCP grant is awarded.
    Rural means an area classified as ``rural'' by the U.S. Census 
    Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot (RVCP) refers to the pilot grant 
program authorized by section 506 of the Caregivers and Veterans 
Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010.
    State government means any of the fifty States of the United 
States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, any 
territory or possession of the United States, or any agency or 
instrumentality of a State government.
    Underserved communities are areas that meet one or more of the 
following criteria:
    (1) Have a high proportion of minority group representation;
    (2) Have a high proportion of individuals who have limited access 
to health care; or
    (3) Have no active duty military installation that is reasonably 
accessible to the community.
    VA means the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
    Veteran means a person who served in active military, naval, or air 
service, who was discharged or released under conditions other than 
    Veteran who is transitioning from military service to civilian life 
means a veteran who is separating from active military, naval, or air 
service in the Armed Forces to return to life as a civilian and such 
veteran's date of discharge or release from active military, naval, or 
air service was not more than 2 years prior to the date on which the 
RVCP grant was awarded.
    Veteran's family means those individuals who reside with the 
veteran in the veteran's primary residence. These individuals include a 
parent, a spouse, a child, a step-family member, an extended family 
member, and individuals who reside in the home with the veteran but are 
not a member of the family of the veteran.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 523 note)

[[Page 12620]]

Sec.  64.4  RVCP grants--general.

    (a) VA will award five RVCP grants to eligible entities as defined 
in Sec.  64.2.
    (b) An eligible entity may receive only one RVCP grant, and only 
one RVCP grant will be awarded in any one pilot project location (see 
Sec.  64.12(a)(6)).
    (c) RVCP grants will be awarded for a maximum period of 2 years, 
beginning on the date on which the RVCP grants are awarded. They will 
not be extended or renewable.
    (d) A grantee will not be required to provide matching funds as a 
condition of receiving an RVCP grant.
    (e) No participant will be charged a fee for services provided by 
the grantee or be required to participate in other activities sponsored 
by the grantee as a condition of receiving services for which the RVCP 
grant is made.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 523 note)

Sec.  64.6  Permissible uses of RVCP grants.

    (a) Grantees must maximize the use of RVCP grants by ensuring that 
at least 90 percent of funds awarded are used to provide services 
designed to aid in the adjustment to civilian life in one or more of 
the following areas:
    (1) Increasing coordination of health care and benefits for 
veterans. Examples include, but are not limited to, identifying sources 
of community, local, State, and Federal health care and benefits; 
obtaining necessary applications and assisting veterans in the 
preparation of applications for such care and benefits; and identifying 
and eliminating barriers to receiving identified benefits.
    (2) Increasing availability of high quality medical and mental 
health services. Examples include, but are not limited to, increasing 
availability of or access to insurance or low- or no-cost public or 
private health care, including out-patient care, preventive care, 
hospital care, nursing home care, rehabilitative care, case management, 
respite care, and home care; providing assistance in accessing or using 
telehealth services; transporting veterans to medical facilities or 
transporting medical or mental health providers to veterans; and 
providing assistance in obtaining necessary pharmaceuticals, supplies, 
equipment, devices, appliances, and assistive technology.
    (3) Providing assistance to families of transitioning veterans. 
Examples include, but are not limited to, helping obtain medical 
insurance for family members; helping the family obtain suitable 
housing; providing job-search assistance or removing barriers for 
family members seeking employment; assisting the family in identifying 
and applying to appropriate schools and/or child care programs; 
securing learning aids such as textbooks, computers and laboratory 
supplies; and obtaining personal financial and legal services.
    (4) Outreach to veterans and families. Examples include, but are 
not limited to, the provision, development or deployment of various 
media tools (e.g., Internet, television, radio, flyers, posters, etc.), 
activity days, program booths, or other strategies to reach 
transitioning veterans and their families in the target community and 
assist them with their transition from military service to civilian 
life. Outreach services may be provided directly by the RVCP grantee or 
the grantee may engage the outreach services of another entity using 
RVCP funds.
    (b) Grantees may use up to 10 percent of the RVCP grant for 
indirect costs, i.e., the expenses of doing business that are not 
readily identified with a particular grant but are necessary for the 
general operation of the grantee organization and the conduct of 
activities it performs.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 523 note)

Sec.  64.8  Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA).

    When funds are available for RVCP grants, VA will publish a NOFA in 
the Federal Register and in Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov). The 
NOFA will identify:
    (a) The location for obtaining RVCP grant applications, including 
the specific forms that will be required;
    (b) The date, time, and place for submitting completed RVCP grant 
    (c) The estimated total amount of funds available and the maximum 
funds available to a single grantee;
    (d) The minimum number of total points and points per category that 
an applicant must receive to be considered for a grant and information 
regarding the scoring process;
    (e) Any timeframes and manner for payments under the RVCP grant; 
    (f) Other information necessary for the RVCP grant application 
process, as determined by VA, including contact information for the 
office that will oversee the RVCP within VA.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 523 note)

Sec.  64.10  Application.

    (a) To apply for an RVCP grant, eligible entities must submit to VA 
a complete application package. Applications will be accepted only 
through Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov).
    (b) A complete RVCP grant application package includes the 
    (1) A description of the services to be provided and which of the 
permissible uses for RVCP grants outlined in Sec.  64.6(a) the services 
are intended to fulfill.
    (2) A description, with supporting documentation, of the need for 
the proposed project in the proposed location, including an estimate, 
with supporting documentation, of the number of veterans and families 
that will be provided services by the applicant.
    (3) A description, with supporting documentation, of how the 
proposed project location qualifies as a rural or an underserved 
community, as defined in this part.
    (4) Documentation evidencing the applicant's experience in 
providing the proposed services, particularly to veterans and their 
    (5) Evidence of a clear, realistic, and measurable program of self-
evaluation and monitoring, including a documented commitment to 
remediate any identified noncompliance.
    (6) Documentation of the ability of the applicant to administer the 
project, including plans to:
    (i) Continuously assess and adapt to the needs of participants for 
services under the RVCP grant;
    (ii) Coordinate and customize the provision of services to the 
identified needs of the participants;
    (iii) Comply with and implement the requirements of this part 
throughout the term of the RVCP grant; and
    (iv) Complete and submit timely reports of RVCP grant activities.
    (7) A description of any assistance received from or any 
consultations with VA or Veterans Service Organizations in the 
development of the proposal being submitted.
    (8) Any additional information deemed appropriate by VA and set 
forth in the NOFA.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 523 note)

    (The Office of Management and Budget has approved the information 
collection provisions in this section under control numbers 4040-0003, 
4040-0004, 4040-0006, 4040-0007, 4040-0008, 4040-0009, and 4040-0010.)

Sec.  64.12  Scoring and selection.

    (a) Scoring. VA will score only complete applications received from 
eligible entities by the established deadline. Applications will be 
scored using the following criteria:
    (1) Background, organizational history, qualifications, and past 
performance (maximum 10 points). Applicant documents a relevant history 
of successfully providing the type of

[[Page 12621]]

services proposed in the RVCP grant application, particularly in the 
location it plans to serve and/or to veterans and their families.
    (2) Need for pilot project (maximum 10 points). Applicant 
demonstrates the need for the pilot project among veterans and their 
families in the proposed project location, and provides evidence of the 
applicant's understanding of the unique needs of veterans and their 
families in the location to be served.
    (3) Pilot project concept, innovation, and ability to meet VA's 
objectives (maximum 40 points). Application shows appropriate concept, 
size, and scope of the project; provides realistic estimates of time, 
staffing, and material needs to implement the project; and details the 
project's ability to enhance the overall services provided, while 
presenting realistic plans to reduce duplication of benefits and 
services already in place. Application must describe a comprehensive 
and well-developed plan to meet one or more of the permissible uses set 
out in Sec.  64.6.
    (4) Pilot project evaluation and monitoring (maximum 10 points). 
Self-evaluation and monitoring strategy provided in application is 
reasonable and expected to meet requirements of Sec.  64.10(b)(5).
    (5) Organizational finances (maximum 10 points). Applicant provides 
documentation that it is financially stable, has not defaulted on 
financial obligations, has adequate financial and operational controls 
in place to assure the proper use of RVCP grants, and presents a plan 
for using RVCP grants that is cost effective and efficient.
    (6) Pilot project location (maximum 20 points). Applicant documents 
how the proposed project location meets the definition of rural or 
underserved communities in this part.
    (b) Selection of grantees. All complete applications will be scored 
using the criteria in paragraph (a) and ranked in order from highest to 
lowest total score. VA will rank all applications that receive at least 
the minimum number of points indicated in the NOFA. VA will award one 
RVCP grant to the highest scoring application. VA will award RVCP 
grants to each successive application, ranked by total score, provided 
the applicant has not been awarded an RVCP grant for a higher scoring 
application and the proposed project is not in the same project 
location as any previously awarded RVCP grant.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 523 note)

Sec.  64.14  RVCP grant agreement.

    (a) VA will draft an RVCP grant agreement to be executed by VA and 
the grantee.
    (b) The RVCP grant agreement will provide that the grantee agrees 
    (1) Operate the project in accordance with this part and the terms 
of the agreement;
    (2) Abide by the following additional requirements:
    (i) Community-based organizations are subject to the Uniform 
Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions 
of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations 
under 38 CFR part 49, as well as to OMB Circular A-122, Cost Principles 
for Non-Profit Organizations, codified at 2 CFR part 230, and 2 CFR 
parts 25 and 170, if applicable.
    (ii) Local and State government entities are subject to the Uniform 
Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to 
State and Local Governments under 38 CFR part 43, as well as to OMB 
Circular A-87, Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian Tribal 
Governments, and 2 CFR parts 25 and 170, if applicable.
    (3) Comply with such other terms and conditions, including 
recordkeeping and reports for project monitoring and evaluation 
purposes, as VA may establish for purposes of carrying out the RVCP in 
an effective and efficient manner and as described in the NOFA; and
    (4) Provide any necessary additional information that is requested 
by VA in the manner and timeframe specified by VA.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 523 note)

Sec.  64.16  Reporting.

    (a) Quarterly reports. All grantees must submit to VA quarterly 
reports based on the Federal fiscal year, which include the following 
    (1) Record of time and resources expended in outreach activities, 
and the methods used;
    (2) The number of participants served, including demographics of 
this population;
    (3) Types of assistance provided;
    (4) A full accounting of RVCP grant funds received from VA and used 
or unused during the quarter; and
    (5) Results of routine monitoring and any project variations.
    (b) Submission of reports. Reports must be submitted to VA no later 
than 15 calendar days after the close of each Federal fiscal quarter.
    (c) Additional reports. VA may request additional reports to allow 
VA to fully assess project accountability and effectiveness.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 523 note)

Sec.  64.18  Recovery of funds.

    (a) Recovery of funds. VA may terminate a grant agreement with any 
RVCP grantee that does not comply with the terms of the RVCP agreement. 
VA may recover from the grantee any funds that are not used in 
accordance with a RVCP grant agreement. If VA decides to recover funds, 
VA will issue to the grantee a notice of intent to recover RVCP grant 
funds, and the grantee will then have 30 days beginning from the date 
of the notice to submit documentation demonstrating why the RVCP grant 
funds should not be recovered. If the RVCP grantee does not respond or 
if the grantee responds but VA determines the documentation is 
insufficient to establish compliance, VA will make a final 
determination as to whether action to recover the RVCP grant funds will 
be taken.
    (b) Prohibition of further grants. When VA determines action will 
be taken to recover grant funds from a grantee, the grantee will be 
prohibited from receiving any further RVCP grant funds for the duration 
of the pilot program.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 523 note)

[FR Doc. 2013-04277 Filed 2-22-13; 8:45 am]