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Final Priority; National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research-Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final priority.

[CFDA Number: 84.133B-5.]

SUMMARY:

The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services announces a priority under the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) Program administered by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Specifically, this notice announces a priority for an RRTC on Improving Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities. We take this action to focus research attention on an area of national need. We intend this priority to contribute to improved employment outcomes for individuals with psychiatric disabilities.

DATES:

Effective Date: This priority is effective July 25, 2014.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Patricia Barrett, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5142, Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2700. Telephone: (202) 245-6211 or by email: patricia.barrett@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.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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 technology that maximize the full inclusion and integration into society, employment, independent living, family support, and 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).

Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers

The purpose of the RRTCs, which are funded through the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program, is to achieve the goals of, and improve the effectiveness of, services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act through well-designed research, training, technical assistance, and dissemination activities in important topical areas, as specified by NIDRR. These activities are designed to benefit rehabilitation service providers, individuals with disabilities, family members, policymakers, and other research stakeholders. Additional information on the RRTC program can be found at: http://www2.ed.gov/​programs/​rrtc/​index.html#types.

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Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(2).

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Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.

We published a notice of proposed priority for this program in the Federal Register on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 (79 FR 16707). That notice contained background information and our reasons for proposing the particular priority.

There are no differences between the proposed priority and this final priority as discussed in the Analysis of Comments and Changes section elsewhere in this notice.

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 the general comments we received 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: Two commenters suggested that NIDRR modify the priority to require a focus on promising practices that could enhance employment outcomes for individuals with psychiatric disabilities and serve as the basis for research by the RRTC. One commenter suggested that NIDRR modify the priority to focus on psychiatric treatment programs that emphasize timely intervention following an initial psychiatric episode, as well as supported education programs for youth and young adults with psychiatric disabilities. The other commenter suggested that NIDRR modify the priority to focus on educational and supported housing interventions for adults with psychiatric disabilities, as well as early screening and assessment programs to identify children with psychiatric disabilities while they are in school.

Discussion: Nothing in the priority precludes applicants from focusing on the topics described by the commenters. However, we do not wish to preclude applicants from proposing other areas of research by requiring all applicants to address the topics presented by the commenters. The peer review process will determine the merits of each proposal.

Changes: None.

Final Priority

The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services establishes a priority for an RRTC on Improving Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities. This priority will be jointly funded by NIDRR and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). For the purposes of this priority, “employment outcomes” may refer to, but are not limited to, obtaining employment, job retention, job advancement, or compensation.

The RRTC must contribute to improving the employment outcomes of individuals with psychiatric disabilities by:

(a) Conducting well-designed research activities, with an emphasis on Start Printed Page 35955promising practices with currently limited evidence bases, in one or more of the following priority areas, focusing on individuals with psychiatric disabilities as a group or on individuals with a specific disability or on demographic subpopulations of individuals with psychiatric disabilities:

(1) Technology to improve employment outcomes for individuals with psychiatric disabilities.

(2) Individual, work environment, or employer factors associated with improved employment outcomes for individuals with psychiatric disabilities.

(3) Interventions that contribute to improved employment outcomes for individuals with psychiatric disabilities. Interventions include any strategy, practice, program, policy, or tool that, when implemented as intended, contributes to improvements in employment outcomes for individuals with psychiatric disabilities, and may include interventions focused on individuals, families, employers, or service providers.

(4) Effects of current or modified government practices, policies, and programs on employment outcomes for individuals with psychiatric disabilities;

(b) Focusing its research on one or more specific stages of research. If the RRTC is to conduct research that can be categorized under more than one of the research stages, or research that progresses from one stage to another, those stages should be clearly specified.

Note:

For purposes of this priority, the stages of research are from the notice of final priority published in the Federal Register on June 7, 2013 (78 FR 34261).

(c) Serving as a national resource center related to employment for individuals with psychiatric disabilities, their families, and other stakeholders by conducting knowledge translation activities that include, but are not limited to:

(1) Providing information and technical assistance to employment service providers, mental health service providers, employers, individuals with psychiatric disabilities and their representatives, and other key stakeholders. These activities will include providing technical assistance on evidence-based, supported employment to SAMHSA grantees that are awarded funds in FY 2014 to enhance State and community capacity to provide supported employment programs targeting adults with serious mental illnesses, including persons with co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

(2) Providing training, including graduate, pre-service, and in-service training, to vocational rehabilitation and other employment service providers, to facilitate more effective delivery of employment services to individuals with psychiatric disabilities. This training may be provided through conferences, workshops, public education programs, in-service training programs, and similar activities.

(3) Disseminating research-based information and materials related to increasing employment levels for individuals with psychiatric disabilities.

(4) Involving key stakeholder groups in the activities conducted under paragraph (a) of this priority to promote the new knowledge generated by the RRTC.

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 Start Printed Page 35956accurately 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.

The benefits of the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program have been well established over the years. Projects similar to the one envisioned by the final priority have been completed successfully, and the proposed priority would generate new knowledge through research. The new RRTC would generate, disseminate, and promote the use of new information that would improve outcomes for individuals with disabilities in the areas of community living and participation, employment, and health and function.

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 program contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at: www.gpo.gov/​fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at 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.

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Dated: June 20, 2014.

Michael K. Yudin,

Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

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[FR Doc. 2014-14910 Filed 6-24-14; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4000-01-P