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Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; Overview Information; Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as Amended-Assistive Technology Alternative Financing Program; Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2005

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Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.224C.

Dates:

Applications Available: June 30, 2005.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: August 1, 2005.

Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: September 28, 2005.

Eligible Applicants: States that received grants under section 101 of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 (old AT Act).

Estimated Available Funds: $3,900,000.

Estimated Range of Awards: $100,000 to $3,900,000.

Estimated Average Size of Awards: $1,000,000.

Estimated Number of Awards: 4.

Note:

The Department is not bound by any estimates in this notice.

Project Period: Up to 12 months.

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose of Program: The Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended (AT Act), authorizes support for activities that increase the availability of, funding for, access to, provision of, and training about assistive technology (AT) devices and AT services. Under section 4(e)(2) of the AT Act, the Secretary is authorized to provide support for States to develop, support, expand, or administer alternative financing programs (AFPs) to allow individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives to purchase AT devices and services. For FY 2005, section 4(b)(2)(D) of the AT Act allows the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to award grants to States or outlying areas on a competitive basis for periods of one year in accordance with the requirements of title III of the old AT Act, as modified by the FY 2005 appropriations bill, to pay for the Federal share—not more than 75 percent—of the cost of AFPs featuring one or more alternative financing mechanisms.

Priorities: We are establishing these priorities for the FY 2005 grant competition only, in accordance with section 437(d)(1) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA).

Absolute Priority: For FY 2005 this priority is an absolute priority. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) we consider only applications that meet this priority.

This priority is:

Assistive Technology Alternative Financing Program

Under section 301(b) of the old AT Act, a State must establish or expand one or more of the following types of AFPs:

(1) A low-interest loan fund.

(2) An interest buy-down program.

(3) A revolving loan fund.

(4) A loan guarantee or insurance program.

(5) A program operated by a partnership among private entities for the purchase, lease, or other acquisition of AT devices or AT services.

(6) Another mechanism that meets the requirements of title III of the old AT Act and is approved by the Secretary.

The AFPs are designed to allow individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives to purchase AT devices or services. If family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives (including employers who have been designated by an individual with a disability as an authorized representative) receive AFP support to purchase AT devices or services, the purchase must be on behalf of an individual with a disability, i.e., the AT device or service that is purchased must be solely for the benefit of that individual.

An applicant must identify the type or types of AFP to be supported by the grant and must submit the following assurances:

(1) Nature of the Match: An assurance that the State will provide the non-Federal share (not less than 25 percent) of the cost of the AFP in cash, from State, local, or private sources (sections 301(d) and 303(b)(1) of the old AT Act, as modified by the 2005 appropriations bill). An applicant must identify the amount of Federal funds the State is requesting, the amount of cash that the State will provide as a match, and the source of the cash.

(2) Permanent Separate Account: An assurance that the State will ensure that—

(a) All funds that support the AFP, including funds repaid during the life of the program, will be placed in a permanent separate account and identified and accounted for separately from any other fund;

(b) If the organization administering the program invests funds within this account, the organization will invest the funds in low-risk securities in which a regulated insurance company may invest under the law of the State; and

(c) The organization will administer the funds with the same judgment and care that a person of prudence, discretion, and intelligence would exercise in the management of the financial affairs of that person (section 303(b)(5) of the old AT Act).

During the first 12-month budget period, a grantee must deposit its matching funds and its Federal award funds in the permanent and separate account.

(3) Permanence of the Program: An assurance that the AFP will continue on a permanent basis (section 303(b)(2) of the old AT Act).

A State's obligation to implement the AFP consistent with all of the requirements, including reporting requirements, continues until there are no longer any funds available to operate the AFP and all outstanding loans have been repaid. If a State decides to terminate its AFP while there are still funds available to operate the program, the State must return the Federal share of the funds remaining in the permanent separate account to RSA (e.g., 75 percent if the original State to Federal match was 1 to 3) except for funds being used for grant purposes, such as loan guarantees for outstanding loans. However, before closing out its grant, the State also must return the Federal share of any principal and interest remitted to it on outstanding loans and any other funds remaining in the permanent separate account, such as funds being used as loan guarantees for those loans.

(4) Consumer Choice and Control: An assurance that, and information describing the manner in which, the AFP will expand and emphasize Start Printed Page 37795consumer choice and control (section 303(b)(3) of the old AT Act).

(5) Supplement Not Supplant: An assurance that the funds made available through the grant to support the AFP will be used to supplement and not supplant other Federal, State, and local public funds expended to provide alternative financing mechanisms (section 303(b)(4) of the old AT Act).

(6) Contract With a Community-Based Organization: An assurance that the State will enter into a contract with a community-based organization (CBO) (including a group of CBOs) that has individuals with disabilities involved in organizational decisionmaking at all organizational levels, to administer the AFP. The contract must—

(a) Include a provision requiring that the program funds, including the Federal and non-Federal shares of the cost of the program, be administered in a manner consistent with the provisions of title III of the old AT Act;

(b) Include any provision the Secretary requires concerning oversight and evaluation necessary to protect Federal financial interests; and

(c) Require the CBO to enter into a contract, to expand opportunities under title III of the old AT Act and facilitate administration of the AFP, with commercial lending institutions or organizations or State financing agencies (section 304 of the old AT Act).

During the first 12-month budget period, a grantee must enter into the contract with a CBO and ensure that the CBO has entered into the contract with the commercial lending institutions or organizations or State financing agencies.

(7) Use and Control of Funds: An assurance that—

(a) Funds comprised of the principal and interest from the account described in paragraph (2) Permanent Separate Account of this priority will be available to support the AFP; and

(b) Any interest or investment income that accrues on or derives from those funds after the funds have been placed under the control of the organization administering the AFP, but before the funds are distributed for purposes of supporting the program, will be the property of the organization administering the program (section 303(b)(6) of the old AT Act).

This assurance regarding the use and control of funds applies to all funds derived from the AFP including the original Federal award, the State matching funds, AFP funds generated by either interest bearing accounts or investments, and all principal and interest paid by borrowers of the AFP who are extended loans from the permanent separate account.

(8) Indirect Costs: An assurance that the percentage of the funds made available through the grant that is used for indirect costs will not exceed 10 percent (section 303(b)(7) of the old AT Act).

For each 12-month budget period, grantees must recalculate their allowable indirect cost rate, which may not exceed 10 percent of the amount of funds in the permanent and separate account and any outstanding loans from that account.

(9) Administrative Policies and Procedures: An assurance that the State and any CBO that enters into a contract with the State under title III of the old AT Act will submit to the Secretary the following policies and procedures for administration of the AFP:

(a) A procedure to review and process in a timely manner requests for financial assistance for immediate and potential technology needs, including consideration of methods to reduce paperwork and duplication of effort, particularly relating to need, eligibility, and determination of the specific AT device or service to be financed through the program.

(b) A policy and procedure to ensure that access to the AFP must be given to consumers regardless of type of disability, age, income level, location of residence in the State, or type of AT device or AT service for which financing is requested through the program.

(c) A procedure to ensure consumer-controlled oversight of the program (section 305 of the old AT Act).

Grantees must submit the administrative policies and procedures required in this assurance within 12 months of the start of the grant.

(10) Data Collection: An assurance that the State will collect and report data requested by the Secretary in the format, with the frequency, and using the method established by the Secretary until there are no longer any funds available to operate the AFP and all outstanding loans have been repaid.

(11) Collaboration With the Statewide AT Program: An assurance that the AFP will enter into a written agreement with that State's statewide AT program supported under section 4 of the AT Act to coordinate activities appropriately.

Competitive Preference Priorities: Within this absolute priority, we give competitive preference to applications that address the following priorities. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i), we award up to an additional 7 points to an application, depending on how well the application meets these priorities.

These priorities are:

Need to Establish an AFP (5 additional points). This applies to a State that has not previously received a grant under title III of the old AT Act.

Need to Expand an AFP (3 additional points). This applies to a State that has previously received a grant or grants under title III of the old AT Act but has received less than a total of $1 million in grant funds for the operation of its AFP.

Commitment of Matching Funds (2 additional points). This applies to States that submit with their application a letter of commitment from a State, local, or private source that pledges to provide the non-Federal share (25 percent) of the cost of the AFP in cash within 12 months of the receipt of the grant award.

Waiver of Proposed Rulemaking: Under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553), the Department generally offers interested parties the opportunity to comment on proposed priorities. Ordinarily, this practice would have applied to the absolute and competitive preference priorities for the Assistive Technology Alternative Financing Program. Section 437(d)(1) of GEPA (20 U.S.C. 1232(d)(1)), however, allows the Secretary to exempt from rulemaking requirements regulations governing the first grant competition under a new or substantially revised program authority. This is the first grant competition for this program under the AT Act since it was amended by the 2004 amendments and modified by the FY 2005 appropriations bill and therefore qualifies for this exemption. In order to ensure timely grant awards, the Secretary has decided to forego public comment on the proposed absolute and competitive preference priorities under section 437(d)(1). The absolute and competitive preference priorities will apply to the FY 2005 grant competition only.

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Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.

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Applicable Regulations: The Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 74, 75, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82, 84, 85, 86, 97, 98, and 99.

II. Award Information

Type of Award: Discretionary grants.

Estimated Available Funds: $3,900,000.

Estimated Range of Awards: $100,000 to $3,900,000.

Estimated Average Size of Awards: $1,000,000.

Estimated Number of Awards: 4.

Note:

The Department is not bound by any estimates in this notice.

Project Period: Up to 12 months. Start Printed Page 37796

III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants: States that received grants under section 101 of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 (old AT Act).

2. Cost Sharing or Matching: The Federal share of the cost of the AFP must not be more than 75 percent (sections 301(d) and 303(b)(1) of the old AT Act, as modified by the 2005 appropriations bill).

IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Address to Request Application Package: Education Publications Center (ED Pubs), P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398. Telephone (toll free): 1-877-433-7827. FAX: (301) 470-1244. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call (toll free): 1-877-576-7734.

You may also contact ED Pubs at its Web site: http://www.ed.gov/​pubs/​edpubs.html or you may contact ED Pubs at its e-mail address: edpubs@inet.ed.gov.

If you request an application from ED Pubs, be sure to identify this competition as follows: CFDA number 84.224C.

Individuals with disabilities may obtain a copy of the application package in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the Grants and Contracts Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 5075, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: (202) 245-7363. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission: Requirements concerning the content of an application, together with the forms you must submit, are in the application package for this competition.

Page Limit: The application narrative (Part III of the application) is where you, the applicant, address the selection criteria that reviewers use to evaluate your application. You must limit Part III to the equivalent of no more than 20 pages, using the following standards:

  • A “page” is 8.5″ × 11″, on one side only, with 1” margins at the top, bottom, and both sides. • Double space (no more than three lines per vertical inch) all text in the application narrative, including titles, headings, footnotes, quotations, references, and captions, as well as all text in charts, tables, figures, and graphs.
  • Use a font that is either 12 point or larger or no smaller than 10 pitch (characters per inch).

The page limit does not apply to Part I, the cover sheet; Part II, the budget section, including the narrative budget justification; Part IV, the assurances and certifications; or the one-page abstract, the resumes, the bibliography, or the letters of support. However, you must include all of the application narrative in Part III.

Our reviewers will not read any pages of your application that—

  • Exceed the page limit if you apply these standards; or
  • Exceed the equivalent of the page limit if you apply other standards.

3. Submission Dates and Times:

Applications Available: June 30, 2005.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: August 1, 2005.

Applications for grants under this competition may be submitted electronically using the Electronic Grant Application System (e-Application) accessible through the Department's e-Grants system, or in paper format by mail or hand delivery. For information (including dates and times) about how to submit your application electronically, or by mail or hand delivery, please refer to section IV. 6. Other Submission Requirements in this notice.

We do not consider an application that does not comply with the deadline requirements.

Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: September 28, 2005.

4. Intergovernmental Review: This competition is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. Information about Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs under Executive Order 12372 is in the application package for this competition.

5. Funding Restrictions: We reference regulations outlining funding restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

6. Other Submission Requirements: Applications for grants under this competition may be submitted electronically or in paper format by mail or hand delivery.

a. Electronic Submission of Applications.

If you choose to submit your application to us electronically, you must use e-Application available through the Department's e-Grants system, accessible through the e-Grants portal page at: http://e-grants.ed.gov.

While completing your electronic application, you will be entering data online that will be saved into a database. You may not e-mail an electronic copy of a grant application to us.

Please note the following:

  • Your participation in e-Application is voluntary.
  • You must complete the electronic submission of your grant application by 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date. The e-Application system will not accept an application for this competition after 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do not wait until the application deadline date to begin the application process.
  • The regular hours of operation of the e-Grants Web site are 6 a.m. Monday until 7 p.m. Wednesday; and 6 a.m. Thursday until midnight Saturday, Washington, DC time. Please note that the system is unavailable on Sundays, and between 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and 6 a.m. on Thursdays, Washington, DC time, for maintenance. Any modifications to these hours are posted on the e-Grants Web site.
  • You will not receive additional point value because you submit your application in electronic format, nor will we penalize you if you submit your application in paper format.
  • You must submit all documents electronically, including the Application for Federal Education Assistance (ED 424), Budget Information—Non-Construction Programs (ED 524), and all necessary assurances and certifications.
  • Any narrative sections of your application must be attached as files in a .DOC (document), .RTF (rich text), or .PDF (Portable Document) format.
  • Your electronic application must comply with any page limit requirements described in this notice.
  • Prior to submitting your electronic application, you may wish to print a copy of it for your records.
  • After you electronically submit your application, you will receive an automatic acknowledgment that will include a PR/Award number (an identifying number unique to your application).
  • Within three working days after submitting your electronic application, fax a signed copy of the ED 424 to the Application Control Center after following these steps:

(1) Print ED 424 from e-Application.

(2) The applicant's Authorizing Representative must sign this form.

(3) Place the PR/Award number in the upper right hand corner of the hard-copy signature page of the ED 424.

(4) Fax the signed ED 424 to the Application Control Center at (202) 245-6272. Start Printed Page 37797

  • We may request that you provide us original signatures on other forms at a later date.

Application Deadline Date Extension in Case of System Unavailability: If you are prevented from electronically submitting your application on the application deadline date because the e-Application system is unavailable, we will grant you an extension of one business day in order to transmit your application electronically, by mail, or by hand delivery. We will grant this extension if—

(1) You are a registered user of e-Application and you have initiated an electronic application for this competition; and

(2) (a) The e-Application system is unavailable for 60 minutes or more between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date; or

(b) The e-Application system is unavailable for any period of time between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date.

We must acknowledge and confirm these periods of unavailability before granting you an extension. To request this extension or to confirm our acknowledgment of any system unavailability, you may contact either (1) the person listed elsewhere in this notice under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT (see VII. Agency Contact) or (2) the e-Grants help desk at 1-888-336-8930. If the system is down and therefore the application deadline is extended, an e-mail will be sent to all registered users who have initiated an e-Application.

Extensions referred to in this section apply only to the unavailability of the Department's e-Application system. If the e-Application system is available, and, for any reason, you are unable to submit your application electronically or you do not receive an automatic acknowledgment of your submission, you may submit your application in paper format by mail or hand delivery in accordance with the instructions in this notice.

b. Submission of Paper Applications by Mail.

If you submit your application in paper format by mail (through the U.S. Postal Service or a commercial carrier), you must mail the original and two copies of your application, on or before the application deadline date, to the Department at the applicable following address:

By mail through the U.S. Postal Service: U.S. Department of Education, Application Control Center, Attention: (CFDA Number 84.224C), 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20202-4260; or

By mail through a commercial carrier: U.S. Department of Education, Application Control Center—Stop 4260, Attention: (CFDA Number 84.224C), 7100 Old Landover Road, Landover, MD 20785-1506.

Regardless of which address you use, you must show proof of mailing consisting of one of the following:

(1) A legibly dated U.S. Postal Service postmark,

(2) A legible mail receipt with the date of mailing stamped by the U.S. Postal Service,

(3) A dated shipping label, invoice, or receipt from a commercial carrier, or

(4) Any other proof of mailing acceptable to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.

If you mail your application through the U.S. Postal Service, we do not accept either of the following as proof of mailing:

(1) A private metered postmark, or

(2) A mail receipt that is not dated by the U.S. Postal Service.

If your application is postmarked after the application deadline date, we will not consider your application.

Note:

The U.S. Postal Service does not uniformly provide a dated postmark. Before relying on this method, you should check with your local post office.

c. Submission of Paper Applications by Hand Delivery.

If you submit your application in paper format by hand delivery, you (or a courier service) must deliver the original and two copies of your application by hand, on or before the application deadline date, to the Department at the following address: U.S. Department of Education, Application Control Center, Attention: (CFDA Number 84.224C), 550 12th Street, SW., Room 7041, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-4260.

The Application Control Center accepts hand deliveries daily between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, except Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays.

Note for Mail or Hand Delivery of Paper Applications: If you mail or hand deliver your application to the Department:

(1) You must indicate on the envelope and—if not provided by the Department—in Item 4 of the ED 424 the CFDA number—and suffix letter, if any—of the competition under which you are submitting your application.

(2) The Application Control Center will mail a grant application receipt acknowledgment to you. If you do not receive the grant application receipt acknowledgment within 15 business days from the application deadline date, you should call the U.S. Department of Education Application Control Center at (202) 245-6288.

V. Application Review Information

1. Selection Criteria: In evaluating an application for a grant under this competition, RSA will determine if an applicant has submitted the required assurances and if an applicant qualifies for competitive preference points.

2. Review and Selection Process: RSA will use an internal application review process to determine whether all the necessary assurances and required program information have been submitted.

VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices: If your application is successful, we notify your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and send you a Grant Award Notification (GAN). We may also notify you informally.

If your application is not evaluated or not selected for funding, we notify you.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements: We identify administrative and national policy requirements in the application package and reference these and other requirements in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

We reference the regulations outlining the terms and conditions of an award in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice and include these and other specific conditions in the GAN. The GAN also incorporates your approved application as part of your binding commitments under the grant.

3. Reporting: At the end of your project period, you must submit a final performance report, including financial information, as directed by the Secretary. Until there are no longer funds available to operate the AFP and all outstanding loans have been repaid, you must submit an annual performance report that provides the most current performance and financial expenditure information as specified by the Secretary in 34 CFR 75.118 and collect and report data as requested by the Secretary.

4. Performance Measures: The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993 directs Federal departments and agencies to improve the effectiveness of their programs by engaging in strategic planning, setting outcome-related goals for programs, and measuring program results against those goals. The goal of the AFP is to reduce cost barriers to obtaining AT devices and services by providing alternative Start Printed Page 37798financing mechanisms that allow individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives to purchase AT devices and services. The following two measures have been developed for evaluating the overall effectiveness of the AFP: (1) The percent of individuals with disabilities receiving loans who would have been denied conventional financing. (2) The amount loaned to individuals with disabilities per $1 million in Federal investment. Grantees will report data for use in calculating these measures through the data collection system required by the Secretary as stated in paragraph (10) in the list of required assurances in the absolute priority in this notice.

VII. Agency Contact

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jeremy Buzzell, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 5025, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-2800. Telephone: (202) 245-7319 or by e-mail: jeremy.buzzell@ed.gov.

If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339.

Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the program contact person listed in this section.

VIII. Other Information

Electronic Access to This Document: You may 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) on the Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/​news/​fedregister.

To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in the Washington, DC, area at (202) 512-1530.

Note:

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 on GPO Access at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/​nara/​index.html.

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Dated: June 24, 2005.

John H. Hager,

Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

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[FR Doc. 05-12954 Filed 6-29-05; 8:45 am]

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