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Notice

Applications for New Awards: Rehabilitation Training: Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center-Quality Management and Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center-Quality Employment

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The Department of Education (Department) is issuing a notice inviting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2020 for a Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Quality Management (VRTAC-QM) and a Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Quality Employment (VRTAC-QE), Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) numbers 84.264J and 84.264K. The VRTAC-QM and VRTAC-QE will focus on identified national needs and improvement of the number and quality of employment outcomes under the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program and raise expectations for all people with disabilities.

DATES:

Applications Available: August 3, 2020.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: September 2, 2020.

Date of Pre-Application Meeting: The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) will post a PowerPoint presentation that provides general information related to the Rehabilitation Services Administration's (RSA's) discretionary Start Printed Page 46604grant competitions and PowerPoint presentations specifically related to the VRTAC-QM and VRTAC-QE competitions at https://ncrtm.ed.gov/​RSAGrantInfo.aspx. OSERS will conduct a pre-application meeting via conference call to respond to questions specific to the VRTAC-QM and the VRTAC-QE. Information about the pre-application meeting will be available at https://ncrtm.ed.gov/​RSAGrantInfo.aspx prior to the date of the call. OSERS invites you to send questions about the VRTAC-QM to 84.264J@ed.gov and the VRTAC-QE to 84.264K@ed.gov in advance of the pre-application meetings. The VRTAC-QM and VRTAC-QE pre-application meeting summaries of questions and answers, will be available at https://ncrtm.ed.gov/​RSAGrantInfo.aspx approximately six business days after the pre-application meeting.

ADDRESSES:

For the addresses for obtaining and submitting an application, please refer to our Common Instructions for Applicants to Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on February 13, 2019 (84 FR 3768) and available at www.govinfo.gov/​content/​pkg/​FR-2019-02-13/​pdf/​2019-02206.pdf.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For VRTAC-QM: Douglas Zhu, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 5095, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-2800. Telephone: (202) 245-6037. Email: 84.264J@ed.gov.

For VRTAC-QE: Felipe Lulli, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 5101, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-2800. Telephone: (202) 245-7425. Email: 84.264K@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.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose of Program: Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act), as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), RSA makes grants to States and public or nonprofit agencies and organizations (including institutions of higher education) to pay part of the cost of projects to provide State VR agency personnel with training and technical assistance designed to assist in increasing the numbers of, and upgrading the skills of, qualified personnel (especially rehabilitation counselors) who are trained in providing vocational, medical, social, and psychological rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities, who are trained to assist individuals with communication and related disorders, and who are trained to provide other services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act. Projects must be awarded and operated in a manner consistent with the nondiscrimination requirements contained in the U.S. Constitution and the Federal civil rights laws.

Priorities: Priorities 1 and 2 are from the notice of final priorities, requirements, and definitions for this program published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register (NFP).

Applicants must address either Absolute Priority 1 or Absolute Priority 2, in the budget information (ED Form 524, Section B) and budget narrative. Applicants may apply for both priorities if they submit separate applications and demonstrate in each application that it has sufficient institutional capacity to fully implement multiple awards, including the required cost share.

Absolute Priorities: For FY 2020, and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, these priorities are absolute priorities. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3), we consider only applications that meet one or more of these priorities.

These priorities are:

Absolute Priority 1: Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Quality Management.

The purpose of this priority is to fund a cooperative agreement to establish a Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Quality Management (VRTAC-QM).

The VRTAC-QM will provide intensive training and technical assistance, targeted training and technical assistance, and universal training and technical assistance to State VR agencies on quality management strategies that will enable VR agencies to improve service delivery to, and employment outcomes achieved by, individuals with disabilities. For States that request intensive training and technical assistance, the training and technical assistance will upgrade and increase the competencies, skills, and knowledge of VR personnel, enabling them to assess current VR program performance and to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities for improvement, and threats (SWOT) that impact the effectiveness of VR agency service delivery and the quality of employment outcomes. This SWOT assessment will be based on a review of a wide variety of information sources, including, but not limited to, RSA's monitoring findings and recommendations; State audit reports; consumer feedback provided in public hearings and through consumer satisfaction surveys; results of comprehensive statewide needs assessments; and input from workforce development partners, community rehabilitation programs, and other VR stakeholders. Based on SWOT assessments, the center and VR agency personnel will develop individualized intensive training and technical assistance agreements designed to provide personnel with skills and strategies they need to address the weaknesses identified in the SWOT assessments to improve service delivery and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. The center will also provide VR agency personnel with technical assistance on evaluating whether the quality management strategies they adopt lead to increasing the percentage of participants who achieve an MSG and exit the program with an employment outcome and to modify those strategies, if necessary, to achieve continuous program improvement. In addition to the intensive training and technical assistance, the VRTAC-QM also will provide targeted training and technical assistance and universal training and technical assistance to State VR agencies on a broad range of quality management strategies and practices, both programmatic and fiscal, to address needs common to many agencies.

With regard to program management and performance, the VRTAC-QM's training and technical assistance will support the assessment, development, and enhancement of staff knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the following functions in order to improve service delivery and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities:

  • Analyzing the State VR agency's comprehensive system of personnel development to identify strengths and weaknesses in staff's ability to understand and address factors affecting program performance and designing management strategies to address these deficits.
  • Analyzing case service data to identify trends and inconsistencies in program performance, and developing strategies to improve the effectiveness and timeliness of services provided, including addressing inconsistencies in the quality and quantity of employment outcomes achieved by various groups of Start Printed Page 46605individuals with disabilities served by the program.
  • Understanding statutory and regulatory requirements related to performance management, including calculations for the common performance measures required under WIOA and factors that may be affecting the agency's performance on these measures.
  • Conducting quality assurance and performance improvement, including the use of data for performance management systems and the implementation of the common performance measures required by WIOA.
  • Strategic planning to address aspects of the SWOT assessment that pose challenges and barriers to improving service delivery and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, particularly students and youth with disabilities and individuals with significant and the most significant disabilities.
  • Implementing effective and efficient policies for delivering pre-employment transition services under section 113, VR services under section 103(a), and supported employment services under title VI of the Rehabilitation Act.
  • Understanding the relationship to important outcomes of various cost containment measures, such as implementing an order of selection giving priority for services to individuals with the most significant disabilities, establishing a financial needs test for various services, implementing policies for consumer participation in the cost of services, and implementing the requirement to seek comparable services and benefits for certain services, among others.

Under the VR program, agencies must comply with several complex Federal fiscal requirements related to maintenance of effort, reallotment, reservation of funds for pre-employment transition services, and match, among others. VR agencies must understand, track, assess, and adjust, when necessary, program activities to meet these requirements while maximizing program outcomes. Additionally, the lack of knowledge and skills in fiscal and resource management can negatively affect the ability of VR agency personnel to meet consumer needs, for example, necessitating the implementation of orders of selection limiting the numbers of eligible individuals served in the VR program. With regard to effective resource management, the training and technical assistance will support the assessment, development, and enhancement of staff knowledge, skills, and abilities to ensure that—

  • Resources, including program funds and personnel, are being used for allowable purposes and innovative employment strategies and supports that maximize employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, including students and youth with disabilities and individuals with significant and the most significant disabilities;
  • Programs have sound internal controls and reliable reporting systems upon which to base fiscal and programmatic decision-making to support attainment of program goals and objectives, including those related to increasing the numbers and qualifications of service delivery personnel; and
  • Resources, including program funds and personnel, are maximized for program needs.

The following are examples of activities the VRTAC-QM may undertake to address weaknesses in resource management:

  • Assess grantee financial management processes used to support attainment of fiscal and programmatic outcomes (for example, whether an agency's fiscal processes support the accurate tracking and reporting of non-Federal funds to maximize the drawdown of Federal award funds to support attainment of employment outcomes). The assessment will be used to identify areas for improvement in fiscal processes that will assist the agency in meeting program goals.
  • Assess personnel training and technical assistance needs to identify gaps in fiscal knowledge, skills, and abilities that prevent the agency from effective and efficient resource utilization necessary to achieve employment outcomes.
  • Provide intensive training and technical assistance on financial planning to maximize program resources and attainment of program goals and objectives, maximizing opportunities for funds matching, avoiding potential maintenance of effort and match penalties, and meeting the reservation of funds requirement for pre-employment transition services in order to increase resources available for service delivery.
  • Provide technical assistance on implementing Federal, State, and program fiscal requirements, including internal controls, in an efficient and effective manner to reduce unnecessary burden and to focus efforts on program outcomes.
  • Provide technical assistance on the identification, collection, and analysis of program and fiscal data necessary for program management and maximizing available resources to support consumer services.

Absolute Priority 2: Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Quality Employment.

The purpose of this priority is to fund a cooperative agreement to establish a Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Quality Employment (VRTAC-QE).

The purpose of the VRTAC-QE is to upgrade and increase the competencies, skills, and knowledge of VR personnel to implement and sustain employment strategies and supporting practices that enable individuals with disabilities to achieve quality employment and career advancement, particularly competitive integrated employment as defined in the Rehabilitation Act. The center will include strategies and practices that meet the needs and promote the quality employment of individuals with significant and the most significant disabilities, students and youth with disabilities, and traditionally underserved populations. The VRTAC-QE will implement a coordinated plan to provide intensive training and technical assistance, targeted training and technical assistance, and universal training and technical assistance to State VR agencies on a broad range of employment strategies and supporting practices.

Employment strategies for consideration include, but are not limited to, the following:

(a) Career pathways education, training, and supports in high-demand occupations, including those in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

(b) Registered and industry-recognized apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.

(c) Supported employment and customized employment.

(d) Customized training and credential programs to meet employer demand.

(e) Self-employment and entrepreneurship, including services available under the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program.

(f) Business engagement and employer supports, including dual customer models such as Progressive Employment.

Supporting practices for consideration include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) Practices to enhance the employment capacity of individuals with the most significant disabilities receiving supported employment Start Printed Page 46606services, such as the Individual Placement and Support model.

(2) Pre-employment transition services that prepare students with disabilities and transition services that prepare youth with disabilities to identify career interests through work-based learning and early career exploration opportunities, including internships and job shadowing, with a focus on high-demand and STEM careers.

(3) Career counseling techniques and resources, including labor market information tools such as Career Index Plus.

(4) Strategies involving workforce development partners, community rehabilitation programs, and other community-based organizations to provide the comprehensive support services that individuals with significant and the most significant disabilities need to succeed, such as the Integrated Resource Teams model.

(5) Approaches that encourage VR clients to enter and remain engaged in the VR process, such as rapid engagement, motivational interviewing, benefits counseling, and financial empowerment training, and vehicles such as the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) tax-free accounts for individuals with disabilities.

(6) Community outreach strategies to expand the pool of potential VR applicants and referral sources, including traditionally underserved populations.

Requirements: For FY 2020 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, the following requirements apply to the VRTAC-QM and VRTAC-QE. The requirements are from the NFP.

Project Requirements of Priority 1

To meet the requirements of this priority, the VRTAC-QM must, at a minimum, conduct one or more of the following activities:

(1) Establish a committee on quality management of State VR programs that meets at least semi-annually to obtain individual advice and recommendations for the project.

The committee must include, but is not limited to, individuals with disabilities, representatives from State VR agencies, representatives from community rehabilitation programs, stakeholders, and individuals with subject matter expertise in improving outcomes through effective program and resource management and in employment strategies for people with disabilities. At a minimum, the committee members will provide individual input and recommendations pertaining to the implementation of the project and the project evaluation and quality assurance plan.

(2) Establish a state-of-the-art website and information technology (IT) platform for communicating with State VR agencies and ensure that all products produced by the VRTAC-QM and posted on the website meet government and industry-recognized standards for accessibility.

The website will become a key training and technical assistance delivery vehicle; a major communication center for the VRTAC-QM and State VR agencies; and the central repository of information about quality management strategies and practices that will form the basis for intensive training and technical assistance, targeted training and technical assistance, and universal training and technical assistance.

(3) Complete a comprehensive review of programmatic and fiscal quality management strategies and practices for VR services for individuals with disabilities to achieve employment outcomes and develop an overarching training and technical assistance plan for the project. Both the review and the plan must be made available to the public, ensuring applicable privacy requirements are met.

The purpose of the review is to identify those strategies and practices for inclusion in VRTAC-QM's overarching training and technical assistance plan. The center will develop an analytical framework and selection criteria against which to evaluate potential strategies and practices. The analysis will focus on: State VR agency needs and priorities, up-to-date information on quality management strategies and practices that have proven to be effective in the field of rehabilitation as well as other public and private sectors of the economy that may have applicability to the management of VR agencies, and quantitative and qualitative research on the effectiveness of the identified program and resource management strategies and practices leading to improved service delivery and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

Sources of information used for this review may include: State VR agency interviews and consultations; information from such sources as the RSA-911 Case Service Report aggregate data, general labor market data and information, Unified or Combined State Plans, and RSA monitoring reports; and information and resources generated by technical assistance centers funded by the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services.

The overarching training and technical assistance plan must include, at a minimum—

(a) Quality management strategies and practices that result in improved service delivery and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, including the rationale for their selection;

(b) Conceptual framework for the selected strategies and practices, including key assumptions, expectations, and presumed relationships or linkages among strategies and practices;

(c) Nature and scope of the intensive training and technical assistance, targeted training and technical assistance, and universal training and technical assistance to be provided in support of the selected strategies and practices; and

(d) Protocols and timelines for requesting and obtaining training and technical assistance.

(4) Provide intensive training and technical assistance to State VR agencies.

Intensive training and technical assistance will be provided to increase State VR agencies' capacity to adopt, expand, or sustain programmatic and fiscal quality management strategies and practices that improve the quality of service delivery and employment outcomes. Intensive training and technical assistance will be provided on-site, over an extended period, under the terms of signed intensive training and technical assistance agreements between the VRTAC-QM and the participating State VR agencies. Numerical targets for the number of intensive training and technical assistance agreements will be included in the cooperative agreement between RSA and the VRTAC-QM. Agreements will reflect the participating VR agencies' needs and priorities, goals, and objectives. They must include the following components:

(a) Quality management strategies and practices to be implemented by the State VR agency and that result in improved service delivery and employment outcomes.

(b) Nature and scope of the training and technical assistance to be provided by the VRTAC-QM.

(c) Roles and responsibilities of the VRTAC-QM, State VR agency, other workforce development partners, community rehabilitation programs, and other partners, including the commitment of resources.Start Printed Page 46607

(d) Logic model [1] that includes: Performance outcomes, targets, and baselines; project activities, inputs, and outputs; and data collection and analysis commitments.

The intensive training and technical assistance agreements will be developed based on the VRTAC-QM and participating VR agency's review and analysis of such information sources as Unified or Combined State Plans; RSA-911 and other performance data; general labor market data and information; RSA monitoring reports; State audit reports; and a review of pertinent Federal, State, and local resources in the State, including existing employment and training programs.

(5) Provide targeted training and technical assistance and universal training and technical assistance on programmatic and fiscal quality management strategies and practices that lead to effective and efficient service delivery and quality employment outcomes.

(6) Coordinate training and technical assistance with other technical assistance centers.

The VRTAC-QM must coordinate the provision of training and technical assistance with the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Quality Employment and other RSA-funded technical assistance and training centers. This coordination is particularly critical when developing intensive training and technical assistance agreements with the VR agencies to avoid confusion and duplication of efforts. The VRTAC-QM must also coordinate with other technical assistance centers funded by the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services.

(7) Present at a national conference or regional forums or specialized meetings throughout the grant period, with special focus in the fifth year of the grant to disseminate the VRTAC-QM's summative findings and results.

The primary objectives are to help State VR agencies to expand and sustain their VRTAC-QM programmatic and fiscal management strategies and practices that result in improved service delivery and employment outcomes by promoting an exchange of ideas and experiences with other participating VR agencies and to encourage other State VR agencies to consider adopting VRTAC-QM strategies and practices. In addition, the VRTAC-QM will explore cost-effective approaches such as virtual convenings to engage VR agencies and partners who may be unable to attend in-person meetings.

(8) Develop a plan for an evaluation, including a timeline for the evaluation and measurement benchmarks, that will assess the effect of the center's training and technical assistance on the service delivery and employment outcomes achieved by the VR agencies that received the center's services. This should be done through an analysis of the quality, relevance, and usefulness of VRTAC-QM training and technical assistance activities designed to improve State VR agencies' program and resource management and lead to improved service delivery and achievement of high-quality employment outcomes and career advancement.

Project Requirements of Priority 2

To meet the requirements of this priority, the VRTAC-QE must, at a minimum, conduct one or more of the following activities:

(1) Establish a state-of-the-art website and IT platform for communicating with State VR agencies and ensure that all products produced by the VRTAC-QE and posted on the website meet government and industry-recognized standards for accessibility.

The website will become a key training and technical assistance delivery vehicle; a major communication center for the VRTAC-QE, State VR agencies, workforce development partners, and other professionals; and the central repository of information about employment strategies and practices that will form the basis for intensive training and technical assistance, targeted training and technical assistance, and universal training and technical assistance.

(2) Complete a comprehensive review of effective strategies and practices leading to quality employment for individuals with disabilities and develop an overarching training and technical assistance plan for the project. Both the review and the plan must be made available to the public, ensuring applicable privacy requirements are met.

The purpose of the review is to identify employment strategies and supporting practices for inclusion in VRTAC-QE's overarching training and technical assistance plan. The center will develop an analytical framework and selection criteria against which to evaluate potential strategies and practices. The analysis will focus on: State VR agency needs and priorities; up-to-date information on national trends, barriers, challenges, and opportunities regarding quality employment for individuals with disabilities, including factors leading to successful employment of individuals with significant and the most significant disabilities, students and youth with disabilities, and traditionally underserved populations; and quantitative and qualitative research on the effectiveness of the identified strategies and practices.

Sources of information for this review may include, but are not limited to, State VR agency interviews and consultations; analyses of aggregate RSA-911 Case Service Report data, Unified or Combined State Plans, and RSA monitoring reports; information and tools generated by RSA's vocational rehabilitation technical assistance centers and special demonstration projects, available on the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials website; and other resources funded by the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, and institutions of higher education.

The overarching training and technical assistance plan must include, at a minimum—

(a) Employment strategies and supporting practices, including the rationale for their selection;

(b) Conceptual framework for the selected strategies and practices, including key assumptions, expectations, and presumed relationships or linkages among strategies and practices;

(c) Nature and scope of the intensive training and technical assistance, targeted training and technical assistance, and universal training and technical assistance to be provided in support of the selected strategies and practices; and

(d) Protocols and timelines for requesting and obtaining training and technical assistance.

(3) Provide intensive training and technical assistance to State VR agencies.

Intensive training and technical assistance will be provided to increase the capacity of State VR agencies to adopt, expand, or sustain employment strategies and supporting practices that improve the quality of employment outcomes. Intensive training and technical assistance will be provided on-site, over an extended period, under the terms of signed intensive training and technical assistance agreements between the VRTAC-QE and the participating State VR agencies. Start Printed Page 46608Numerical targets for the number of intensive training and technical assistance agreements will be included in the cooperative agreement between RSA and the VRTAC-QE. Agreements will reflect the participating VR agencies' needs and priorities, goals, and objectives. They must include the following components:

(a) Employment strategies and supporting practices to be implemented by the State VR agency.

(b) Nature and scope of the training and technical assistance to be provided by the VRTAC-QE.

(c) Roles and responsibilities of the VRTAC-QE, State VR agency, workforce development partners, community rehabilitation programs, and other partners, including the commitment of resources.

(d) Logic model [2] that includes: State-specific performance outcomes, targets, and baselines; project activities, inputs, and outputs; and data collection and analysis commitments.

The intensive training and technical assistance agreements will be developed based on the VRTAC-QE and participating VR agency's review and analysis of such information sources as Unified or Combined State Plans; RSA-911 and other performance data; RSA monitoring reports; relevant labor market information; and a review of pertinent Federal, State, and local resources in the State, including existing employment and training programs.

Intensive training and technical assistance will be implemented in coordination with, and leveraging the resources of, State and local workforce development partners and other parties specified in the intensive training and technical assistance agreement.

(4) Provide targeted training and technical assistance meeting the identified needs of a limited number of State VR agencies, as well as universal training and technical assistance broadly available to all State VR agencies and their partners.

(5) Coordinate training and technical assistance with other technical assistance centers.

The VRTAC-QE must coordinate the provision of training and technical assistance with the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Quality Management and other RSA-funded training and technical assistance investments. This coordination is particularly critical when developing intensive training and technical assistance agreements with the VR agencies to avoid confusion and duplication of efforts. The VRTAC-QE must also coordinate with other training and technical assistance resources funded by the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, and other pertinent Federal or State organizations, and institutions of higher education, as appropriate.

(6) Disseminate VRTAC-QE summative findings and results through a national conference or regional forums or specialized meetings throughout the grant period and at with special focus in the fifth year of the grant. The primary objectives are to help State VR agencies to expand and sustain their VRTAC-QE strategies and practices and to encourage other State VR agencies to consider adopting some VRTAC-QE strategies and practices by promoting an exchange of ideas and experiences with other participating VR agencies. To maximize the dissemination of project findings and results throughout the grant period and with special focus in the fifth year, the VRTAC-QE will explore cost-effective approaches such as virtual convenings to engage VR agencies and partners who may be unable to attend in-person meetings.

(7) Develop a plan for an evaluation, including a timeline for the evaluation and measurement benchmarks, that will assess VRTAC-QE employment strategies and supporting activities' effect on VR participants' employment outcomes and career advancement. The evaluation will also assess the quality, relevance, and usefulness of the VRTAC-QE's training and technical assistance in improving State VR agencies' ability to identify and implement the appropriate strategies and practices.

Application Requirements: The following application requirements apply to both Priority 1 and Priority 2. The Department encourages innovative approaches to meet these requirements. Applicants must—

(a) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Quality of the Evaluation Plan,” how the proposed project will meet the evaluation requirements of the priority. Applicants must describe the anticipated implementation steps, milestones, and timelines for the development of a logic model for the project. The logic model must include data elements, inputs, activities, outputs, and short-term and long-term performance indicators regarding—

(1) Quantitative outcomes resulting from the program management or employment strategies and practices, including—

(i) Quality and timeliness of the VR processes and services;

(ii) Number and quality of employment outcomes;

(iii) VR participants' employment or career-readiness;

(iv) Cost-effectiveness; and

(v) Sustainability;

(2) Quality, relevance, and usefulness of the project's training and technical assistance activities;

(3) Quantitative or qualitative insights about the relationship between strategies, practices, and training and technical assistance activities on critical outcomes for VR personnel, VR clients, and key partners, including through—

(i) Pre- and post-training assessments;

(ii) Comparison groups;

(iii) Focus groups; or

(iv) Success stories.

(b) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Adequacy of Project Resources,” how the applicant will ensure that—

(1) The proposed project will encourage applications for employment from persons who are members of groups that have historically been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability, as appropriate;

(2) Projects will be operated in a manner consistent with nondiscrimination requirements contained in the U.S. Constitution and the Federal civil rights laws;

(3) Key project personnel, consultants, and

subcontractors have the qualifications and experience to meet all the requirements of the priority, including expertise in—

(i) Programmatic areas addressed in the Project Requirements section of the priority;

(ii) Program and resource management and oversight;

(iii) Knowledge translation and dissemination, including the effective use of communication technologies; and

(iv) Project evaluation leading to continuous improvement, including qualitative and quantitative assessments;

(4) The applicant and key partners have adequate resources to carry out the proposed project activities, and achieve anticipated project outcomes and impact on the VR services to individuals with disabilities, including assurances that the proposed allocation of human and financial resources for project Start Printed Page 46609evaluation will be enough to meet the requirements in section (a) of the application requirement regarding the “Quality of the Evaluation Plan,” above; and

(5) The proposed costs are reasonable in relation to the anticipated results and benefits.

(c) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Quality of the Management Plan,” how the applicant will ensure that—

(1) The project's intended outcomes, including implementation of the evaluation plan, will be achieved on time and within budget, through—

(i) Clearly defined responsibilities of key project personnel, consultants, and contractors, as applicable;

(ii) Procedures to track and ensure completion of the action steps, timelines, and milestones established for key project activities, requirements, and deliverables, in accordance with the cooperative agreement between RSA and the applicant;

(iii) Internal monitoring processes to ensure that the project is being implemented in accordance with an established project performance plan, including timelines and milestones; and

(iv) Financial and budgetary oversight processes to

ensure timely obligations and reporting of grant funds, in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards at 2 CFR part 200 and the terms and conditions of the Federal award;

(2) The allocation of key project personnel, consultants, and contractors—including levels of effort of key personnel—will be appropriate and adequate to achieve the project's intended outcomes, including an assurance that key personnel will have enough availability to ensure timely communications with stakeholders and RSA;

(3) The proposed management plan will ensure that the products and services are of high quality, relevance, and usefulness, in both content and delivery; and

(4) The proposed project will benefit from a diversity of perspectives, including those of State and local personnel, providers, researchers, and policy makers, among others, in its development and operation.

Additional Application Requirements for Priority 1

The following application requirements apply only to priority 1 (VRTAC-QM). The Department encourages innovative approaches to meet these requirements. Applicants must—

(a) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Significance of the Project,” how the proposed project will increase State VR agencies' capacity to improve the quality of VR services and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities by enabling VR agencies to develop and implement efficient and effective program and resource management techniques leading to increases in the numbers and improved skills of VR counselors and other service delivery personnel. To meet this requirement, the applicant must demonstrate—

(1) Knowledge about State VR program challenges, opportunities, barriers, and trends regarding program and resource management or quality employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities including those with significant and the most significant disabilities, students and youth with disabilities, and traditionally underserved populations;

(2) Knowledge about Federal, State, and nongovernment initiatives to promote program and resource management and quality employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, particularly in response to requirements under WIOA;

(3) The proposed project's potential to contribute to these Federal, State, and nongovernment initiatives by assisting State VR agencies in equipping personnel with the necessary skills and training to implement the substantive provisions of the Rehabilitation Act introduced by WIOA that are designed to improve the quality of employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities; and

(4) How the proposed project will increase State VR agencies' capacity to implement program and resource management strategies leading to improved VR services, employment outcomes, and career advancement opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

(b) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application, under “Quality of Project Services,” how the proposed project will achieve the goals, objectives, and intended outcomes of this priority. To meet this requirement, the applicant must describe its plan for implementing the project, including major implementation activities, timelines, and milestones (particularly for the initial fiscal year), as well as key assumptions and expectations, presumed relationships or linkages among variables, and underlying rationale and empirical support, for the following Project Requirements of the priority:

(1) State-of-the-art website. Applicants must describe how the website will serve as an effective communication center, training and technical assistance delivery vehicle, and repository of information about quality management or employment strategies and practices, including—

(i) Expected features and capabilities, including information-delivery and stakeholder-convening technologies; and

(ii) Anticipated uses of such features and capabilities in support of the project goals and objectives.

(2) Comprehensive review. Applicants must describe how the comprehensive review will provide the factual basis for the project training and technical assistance plan. At a minimum, the comprehensive review must include—

(i) Input from State VR agencies about their needs, priorities, and innovative approaches to program and resource management that lead to improved service delivery;

(ii) Information regarding the latest—

(A) National trends, barriers, challenges, and opportunities;

(B) Effective and efficient program and resource management strategies, techniques, and practices that may be applicable to State VR agencies; and

(C) Additional information that the applicant deems relevant; and

(iii) An analytical framework for assessing the collected information and selecting the program and resource management strategies and practices for inclusion in the training and technical assistance plans.

(3) Provision of intensive training and technical assistance. Applicants must describe how the intensive training and technical assistance agreements will increase State VR agencies' capacity to improve the State VR agencies' performance and quality employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, through State-appropriate—

(i) Program and resource management;

(ii) Federal, State, and local partnerships; and

(iii) Performance outcomes, outputs, inputs, targets, baselines, and data collection requirements.

(4) Provision of targeted training and technical assistance and universal training and technical assistance. Applicants must describe how each training and technical assistance modality (targeted or universal) will help State VR agencies to adopt, expand, and sustain program and resource management practices. For each training and technical assistance modality, describe—Start Printed Page 46610

(i) Topics, activities, and products;

(ii) Intended audience and outreach strategies;

(iii) Content delivery and dissemination methods; and

(iv) Steps to ensure quality, relevance, and usefulness.

(5) Coordination. The applicant must describe how it will maximize coordination between the VRTAC-QE and the VRTAC-QM and seek opportunities to coordinate with other training and technical assistance investments, including those funded by the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, in the provision of training and technical assistance to State VR agencies.

(6) National conference, regional forums, or specialized meetings throughout the grant period and with special focus in the fifth year of the grant performance period. Applicants must describe how the project will disseminate its summative findings and results, including cost-effective approaches such as virtual convenings to engage State VR agencies and other potential Federal, State, local, and nongovernment partners, including—

(i) Types of events (e.g., conferences, forums, specialized meetings);

(ii) Target audience (e.g., by event type, types of stakeholders with a variety of roles and sectors); and

(iii) Convening modes (in-person, virtual).

(c) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Quality of the Evaluation Plan,” the applicant's capacity and experience in addressing the State VR agencies' training and technical assistance needs in the areas of program and resource management, including but not limited to strategic planning and performance improvement leading to performance improvement, including SWOT assessment related to implementing strategies that ensure education funds are spent in a way that increases their efficiency and cost-effectiveness, including by reducing waste or achieving better outcomes.

Additional Application Requirements for Priority 2

The following application requirements apply only to Priority 2 (VRTAC-QE). The Department encourages innovative approaches to meet these requirements. Applicants must—

(a) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Significance of the Project,” how the proposed project will increase State VR agencies' capacity to improve the quality of VR services and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities by enabling VR agencies to develop and implement innovative employment and support strategies that are designed to improve employment outcomes and career advancement for individuals with disabilities. To meet this requirement, the applicant must demonstrate—

(1) Knowledge about State VR program challenges, opportunities, barriers, and trends regarding program and resource management or quality employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities including those with significant and the most significant disabilities, students and youth with disabilities, and traditionally underserved populations;

(2) Knowledge about Federal, State, and nongovernment initiatives to promote program and resource management and quality employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, particularly in response to requirements under WIOA;

(3) The proposed project's potential to contribute to these Federal, State, and nongovernment initiatives by assisting State VR agencies in equipping personnel with the necessary skills and training to implement the substantive provisions of the Rehabilitation Act introduced by WIOA that are designed to improve the quality of employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities; and

(4) How the proposed project will increase State VR agencies' capacity to implement employment strategies and supporting practices leading to improved VR services, employment outcomes, and career advancement opportunities for individuals with disabilities

(b) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application, under “Quality of Project Services,” how the proposed project will achieve the goals, objectives, and intended outcomes of this priority. To meet this requirement, the applicant must describe its plan for implementing the project, including major implementation activities, timelines, and milestones (particularly for the initial fiscal year), as well as key assumptions and expectations, presumed relationships or linkages among variables, and underlying rationale and empirical support, for the following Project Requirements of the priority:

(1) State-of-the-art website. Applicants must describe how the website will serve as an effective communication center, training and technical assistance delivery vehicle, and repository of information about quality management or employment strategies and practices, including—

(i) Expected features and capabilities, including information-delivery and stakeholder-convening technologies; and

(ii) Anticipated uses of such features and capabilities in support of the project goals and objectives.

(2) Comprehensive review. Applicants must describe how the comprehensive review will provide the factual basis for the project training and technical assistance plan. At a minimum, the comprehensive review must include—

(i) Input from State VR agencies about their needs, priorities, and innovative approaches to program and resource management that lead to quality employment and career-readiness that lead to quality employment outcomes;

(ii) Information regarding the latest—

(A) National trends, barriers, challenges, and opportunities;

(B) Effective employment strategies and practices that prepare individuals with disabilities to compete in the global economy and designed to create or expand innovative and affordable paths to relevant careers through postsecondary credentials or job-ready skills; and

(C) Additional information that the applicant deems relevant; and

(iii) An analytical framework for assessing the collected information and selecting the employment and career-readiness strategies and practices for inclusion in the training and technical assistance plans.

(3) Provision of intensive training and technical assistance. Applicants must describe how the intensive training and technical assistance agreements will increase State VR agencies' capacity to improve the State VR agencies' performance and quality employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, through State-appropriate—

(i) Employment strategies and supporting practices;

(ii) Federal, State, and local partnerships; and

(iii) Performance outcomes, outputs, inputs, targets, baselines, and data collection requirements.

(4) Provision of targeted training and technical assistance and universal training and technical assistance. Applicants must describe how each training and technical assistance modality (targeted or universal) will help State VR agencies to adopt, expand, and sustain employment strategies and practices that improve employment outcomes and career advancement opportunities for eligible VR participants. For each training and Start Printed Page 46611technical assistance modality, describe—

(i) Topics, activities, and products;

(ii) Intended audience and outreach strategies;

(iii) Content delivery and dissemination methods; and

(iv) Steps to ensure quality, relevance, and usefulness.

(5) Coordination. The applicant must describe how it will maximize coordination between the VRTAC-QE and the VRTAC-QM and seek opportunities to coordinate with other technical assistance centers, including those funded by the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, in the provision of training and technical assistance to State VR agencies.

(6) National conference, regional forums, or specialized meetings throughout the grant period, with special focus in the fifth year of the grant performance period. Applicants must describe how the project will disseminate its summative findings and results, including cost-effective approaches such as virtual convenings to engage State VR agencies and other potential Federal, State, local, and nongovernment partners, including—

(i) Types of events (e.g., conferences, forums, specialized meetings);

(ii) Target audience (e.g., by event type, types of stakeholders with a variety of roles and sectors); and

(iii) Convening modes (in-person, virtual).

Definitions: For FY 2020 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, the following definitions apply to the VRTAC-QM and VRTAC-QE priorities. The definitions are from the NFP.

Intensive training and technical assistance means training and technical assistance provided to State VR agencies and State VR agency personnel primarily on-site or through remote delivery, as needed and appropriate, over an extended period. Intensive training and technical assistance are based on an ongoing relationship between the training and technical assistance center staff and State VR agencies and State VR agency personnel under the terms of a signed intensive training and technical assistance agreement.

Targeted training and technical assistance means training and technical assistance based on needs common to one or more State VR agencies and State VR agency personnel on a time-limited basis and with limited commitment of training and technical assistance center resources. Targeted training and technical assistance are delivered through virtual or in-person methods tailored to the identified needs of the participating State VR agencies and State VR agency personnel.

Universal training and technical assistance means training and technical assistance broadly available to State VR agencies and State VR agency personnel and other interested parties through their own initiative, resulting in minimal interaction with training and technical assistance center staff. Universal training and technical assistance includes generalized presentations, products, and related activities available through a website or through brief contacts with the training and technical assistance center staff.

Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 772(a)(1) and 29 U.S.C. 773(b)(1).

Applicable Regulations: (a) The Education Department General Administrative Regulations in 34 CFR parts 75, 77, 79, 81, 82, 84, 86, 97, 98, and 99. (b) The Office of Management and Budget Guidelines to Agencies on Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) in 2 CFR part 180, as adopted and amended as regulations of the Department in 2 CFR part 3485. (c) The Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards in 2 CFR part 200, as adopted and amended as regulations of the Department in 2 CFR part 3474. (d) The regulations for this program in 34 CFR parts 385 and 373. (e) The NFP.

Note:

The regulations in 34 CFR part 79 apply to all applicants except federally recognized Indian Tribes.

Note:

The regulations in 34 CFR part 86 apply to institutions of higher education only.

II. Award Information

VRTAC-QM

Type of Award: Cooperative agreement.

Estimated Available Funds: $3,344,560.

Maximum Award: We will not make an award exceeding $3,344,560 for a single budget period of 12 months.

Note:

Of the $3,344,560 available for this award, $3,000,000 is from the Rehabilitation Training program and will be used for the provision of training and technical assistance, and $344,560 is from the Demonstration and Training program and will be used for evaluation activities. These funds must be budgeted and tracked separately.

Applications must include separate ED-524 budget forms and budget narratives for funds requested under the Rehabilitation Training and Demonstration and Training programs, respectively.

Estimated Number of Awards: 1.

Note:

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

Project Period: Up to 60 months.

VRTAC-QE

Type of Award: Cooperative agreement.

Estimated Available Funds: $3,344,560.

Maximum Award: We will not make an award exceeding $3,344,560 for a single budget period of 12 months.

Note:

Of the $3,344,560 available for this award, $3,000,000 is from the Rehabilitation Training program and will be used for the provision of training and technical assistance, and $344,560 is from the Demonstration and Training program and will be used for evaluation activities. These funds must be budgeted and tracked separately.

Applications must include separate ED-524 budget forms and budget narratives for funds requested under the Rehabilitation Training and Demonstration and Training programs, respectively.

Estimated Number of Awards: 1.

Note:

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

Project Period: Up to 60 months.

III. Eligibility Information

VRTAC-QM and VRTAC-QE

1. Eligible Applicants: States and public or private nonprofit agencies and organizations, including Indian Tribes and institutions of higher education.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching: The Department determined that cost sharing of 10 percent of the total cost of the project is required of grantees under both the Rehabilitation Training program and the Demonstration and Training program. Therefore, cost sharing of 10 percent of the total cost of the project (i.e., based on the sum of Federal and non-Federal project costs) is required of the grantee under this competition. Any program income that may be incurred during the period of performance may only be directed towards advancing activities in the approved grant application and may not be used towards the 10 percent cost share requirement. The Secretary does not, as a general matter, anticipate waiving this requirement. However, the Secretary may waive part of the non-Federal share of the cost of the project after negotiations if the applicant demonstrates that it does not have sufficient resources to contribute the Start Printed Page 46612entire cost share. Furthermore, given the importance of the cost share funds to the long-term success of the project, eligible entities must identify appropriate cost share funds in the proposed budget. Finally, the selection criteria include factors such as “the adequacy of support, including facilities, equipment, supplies, and other resources, from the applicant organization or the lead applicant organization” and “the relevance and demonstrated commitment of each partner in the proposed project to the implementation and success of the project,” which may include a consideration of demonstrated cost sharing support.

Note:

The awards will be jointly funded by the Rehabilitation Training program and the Demonstration and Training program, which have different indirect cost rate requirements. These funds must be budgeted and tracked separately, with the correct indirect cost rate applied to each set of funds.

Under 34 CFR 75.562(c), an indirect cost reimbursement on a training grant is limited to the recipient's actual indirect costs, as determined by its negotiated indirect cost rate agreement, or eight percent of a modified total direct cost base, whichever amount is less. Indirect costs in excess of the limit may not be charged directly, used to satisfy matching or cost-sharing requirements, or charged to another Federal award. This requirement applies only to the Rehabilitation Training program funds, which amount to up to $3,000,000 of the $3,344,560 available for each award.

Under 34 CFR 373.22, indirect cost reimbursement for grants under the Demonstration and Training program is limited to the recipient's actual indirect costs, as determined by its negotiated indirect cost rate agreement, or 10 percent of the total direct cost base, whichever amount is less. This requirement applies only to the Demonstration and Training program funds, which amount to up to $344,560 of the $3,344,560 available for each award.

3. Subgrantees: Under 34 CFR 373.23(b), a grantee under this competition may not award subgrants using Demonstration and Training program funds to entities to directly carry out project activities described in its application. Under 34 CFR 75.708(b) and (c), a grantee under this competition may award subgrants using Rehabilitation Training program funds—to directly carry out project activities described in its application—to the following types of entities: States and public or private nonprofit agencies and organizations, including Indian Tribes and institutions of higher education. The grantee may award subgrants to entities it has identified in an approved application or that it selects through a competition under procedures established by the grantee. Under 34 CFR 75.708(e) and 373.23(b), a grantee may use either Demonstration and Training program or Rehabilitation Training program funds to contract for supplies, equipment, and other services in accordance with 2 CFR part 200.

IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Application and Submission Information: Applicants are required to follow the Common Instructions for Applicants to Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on February 13, 2019 (84 FR 3768) and available at www.govinfo.gov/​content/​pkg/​FR-2019-02-13/​pdf/​2019-02206.pdf, which contain requirements and information on how to submit an application.

2. Submission of Proprietary Information: Given the types of projects that may be proposed in applications for the Rehabilitation Training competition, your application may include business information that you consider proprietary. In 34 CFR 5.11 we define “business information” and describe the process we use in determining whether any of that information is proprietary and, thus, protected from disclosure under Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552, as amended).

Because we plan to make successful applications available to the public, you may wish to request confidentiality of business information.

Consistent with Executive Order 12600, please designate in your application any information that you believe is exempt from disclosure under Exemption 4. In the appropriate Appendix section of your application, under “Other Attachments Form,” please list the page number or numbers on which we can find this information. For additional information please see 34 CFR 5.11(c).

3. Intergovernmental Review: This competition is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. However, under 34 CFR 79.8(a), we waive intergovernmental review in order to make an award by the end of FY 2020.

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

5. Recommended 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. We recommend that you (1) limit the application narrative to no more than 45 pages and (2) use the following standards:

  • A “page” is 8.5″ x 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).
  • Use one of the following fonts: Times New Roman, Courier, Courier New, or Arial.

The recommended 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, the recommended page limit does apply to all of the application narrative, Part III.

V. Application Review Information

1. Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for this competition are from 34 CFR 75.210 and are as follows:

(a) Need for project and the significance of the proposed project. (10 points)

The Secretary considers the need for and significance of the proposed project. In determining the need for and significance of the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) The extent to which the proposed project will focus on serving or otherwise addressing the needs of disadvantaged individuals.

(ii) The extent to which specific gaps or weaknesses in services, infrastructure, or opportunities have been identified and will be addressed by the proposed project, including the nature and magnitude of those gaps or weaknesses.

(iii) The importance or magnitude of the results or outcomes likely to be attained by the proposed project, especially improvements in employment, independent living services, or both, as appropriate.

(b) Quality of the project design. (25 points)

(1) The Secretary considers the quality of the design of the proposed project. In determining the quality of the Start Printed Page 46613design of the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) The extent to which the goals, objectives, and outcomes to be achieved by the proposed project are clearly specified and measurable.

(ii) The extent to which the proposed project is designed to build capacity and yield results that will extend beyond the period of Federal financial assistance.

(iii) The extent to which the design of the proposed project reflects up-to-date knowledge from research and effective practice.

(iv) The extent to which the proposed project will increase efficiency in the use of time, staff, money, or other resources in order to improve results and increase productivity.

(c) Quality of project services. (25 points)

(1) The Secretary considers the quality of the services to be provided by the proposed project. In determining the quality of the services to be provided by the proposed project, the Secretary considers the quality and sufficiency of strategies for ensuring equal access and treatment for eligible project participants who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. In addition, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) The extent to which the services to be provided by the proposed project are appropriate to the needs of the intended recipients or beneficiaries of those services.

(ii) The likely impact of the services to be provided by the proposed project on the intended recipients of those services.

(iii) The extent to which the technical assistance services to be provided by the proposed project involve the use of efficient strategies, including the use of technology, as appropriate, and the leveraging of non-project resources.

(d) Quality of project personnel and adequacy of resources. (15 points)

The Secretary considers the quality of project personnel who will carry out the proposed project and the adequacy of resources for the proposed project. In determining the quality of the personnel, the Secretary considers the extent to which the applicant encourages applications for employment from persons who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. In addition, in determining the adequacy of resources for the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, of key project personnel.

(ii) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, of project consultants or subcontractors.

(iii) The adequacy of support, including facilities, equipment, supplies, and other resources, from the applicant organization or the lead applicant organization.

(iv) The relevance and demonstrated commitment of each partner in the proposed project to the implementation and success of the project.

(v) The extent to which the costs are reasonable in relation to the objectives, design, and potential significance of the proposed project

(e) Quality of the management plan and strategy to scale. (15 points)

The Secretary considers the quality of the management plan and the strategy to scale the proposed project. In determining the quality of the management plan for the proposed project and the applicant's capacity to scale the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) The adequacy of the management plan to achieve the objectives of the proposed project on time and within budget, including clearly defined responsibilities, timelines, and milestones for accomplishing project tasks.

(ii) The extent to which the time commitments of the project director and principal investigator and other key project personnel are appropriate and adequate to meet the objectives of the proposed project.

(iii) The applicant's capacity (e.g., in terms of qualified personnel, financial resources, or management capacity) to bring the proposed project to scale on a national or regional level (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c)) working directly, or through partners, during the grant period.

(f) Quality of the project evaluation. (10 points)

The Secretary considers the quality of the evaluation to be conducted of the proposed project. In determining the quality of the evaluation, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) The extent to which the methods of evaluation include the use of objective performance measures that are clearly related to the intended outcomes of the project and will produce quantitative and qualitative data to the extent possible.

(ii) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide performance feedback and permit periodic assessment of progress toward achieving intended outcomes.

In addition to the selection criteria listed above, the Secretary, in making awards under this program, in accordance with 34 CFR 385.33, considers the past performance of the applicant in carrying out similar training activities under previously awarded grants, as indicated by such factors as compliance with grant conditions, soundness of programmatic and financial management practices, and attainment of established project objectives.

This criterion will be used after non-Federal reviewers score the applications and will be applied to all applications that are recommended for funding.

2. Review and Selection Process: We remind potential applicants that in reviewing applications in any discretionary grant competition, the Secretary may consider, under 34 CFR 75.217(d)(3), the past performance of the applicant in carrying out a previous award, such as the applicant's use of funds, achievement of project objectives, and compliance with grant conditions. The Secretary may also consider whether the applicant failed to submit a timely performance report or submitted a report of unacceptable quality.

In addition, in making a competitive grant award, the Secretary requires various assurances, including those applicable to Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).

When reviewing prior performance under 34 CFR 75.217(d)(3) and conducting risk assessments pursuant to 2 CFR 200.205, the Secretary will consider factors such as whether applicants have demonstrated sufficient institutional capacity through the commitment of adequate resources, as described in the selection criteria, and adequate past performance in fully implementing multiple awards.

3. Risk Assessment and Specific Conditions: Consistent with 2 CFR 200.205, before awarding grants under this competition, the Department conducts a review of the risks posed by applicants. Under 2 CFR 3474.10, the Secretary may impose specific conditions and, in appropriate circumstances, high-risk conditions on a grant if the applicant or grantee is not financially stable; has a history of unsatisfactory performance; has a financial or other management system that does not meet the standards in 2 CFR part 200, subpart D; has not fulfilled the conditions of a prior grant; or is otherwise not responsible.Start Printed Page 46614

4. Integrity and Performance System: If you are selected under this competition to receive an award that over the course of the project period may exceed the simplified acquisition threshold (currently $250,000), under 2 CFR 200.205(a)(2) we must make a judgment about your integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards—that is, the risk posed by you as an applicant—before we make an award. In doing so, we must consider any information about you that is in the integrity and performance system (currently referred to as the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)), accessible through the System for Award Management. You may review and comment on any information about yourself that a Federal agency previously entered and that is currently in FAPIIS.

Please note that, if the total value of your currently active grants, cooperative agreements, and procurement contracts from the Federal Government exceeds $10,000,000, the reporting requirements in 2 CFR part 200, Appendix XII, require you to report certain integrity information to FAPIIS semiannually. Please review the requirements in 2 CFR part 200, Appendix XII, if this grant plus all the other Federal funds you receive exceed $10,000,000.

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); or we may send you an email containing a link to access an electronic version of your GAN. We may notify you informally, also.

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. Open Licensing Requirements: Unless an exception applies, if you are awarded a grant under this competition, you will be required to openly license to the public grant deliverables created in whole, or in part, with Department grant funds. When the deliverable consists of modifications to pre-existing works, the license extends only to those modifications that can be separately identified and only to the extent that open licensing is permitted under the terms of any licenses or other legal restrictions on the use of pre-existing works. Additionally, a grantee or subgrantee that is awarded competitive grant funds must have a plan to disseminate these public grant deliverables. This dissemination plan can be developed and submitted after your application has been reviewed and selected for funding. For additional information on the open licensing requirements please refer to 2 CFR 3474.20.

4. Reporting: (a) If you apply for a grant under this competition, you must ensure that you have in place the necessary processes and systems to comply with the reporting requirements in 2 CFR part 170 should you receive funding under the competition. This does not apply if you have an exception under 2 CFR 170.110(b).

(b) At the end of your project period, you must submit a final performance report, including financial information, as directed by the Secretary. If you receive a multiyear award, you must submit quarterly and annual performance reports that provide the most current performance and financial expenditure information as directed by the Secretary under 34 CFR 75.118. The Secretary may also require more frequent performance reports under 34 CFR 75.720(c). For specific requirements on reporting, please go to www.ed.gov/​fund/​grant/​apply/​appforms/​appforms.html.

5. Performance Measures: The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) directs Federal departments and agencies to improve the effectiveness of programs by engaging in strategic planning, setting outcome-related goals for programs, and measuring program results against those goals. The GPRA measures applicable to the VRTAC-QM and the VRTAC-QE are as follows:

(a) Number and percentage of participating State VR agencies reporting improved coordination and collaboration with Federal, State, or local organizations as a result of the training and technical assistance.

(b) Number and percentage of VR agency personnel reporting that the training and technical assistance is high in quality, relevant, and useful to their work.

(c) Of State VR agencies that received training and technical assistance, the percentage change in consumers achieving an employment outcome compared to the prior year.

(d) Of State VR agencies that received training and technical assistance, the number and percentage of agencies that achieved their negotiated level of performance for the measurable skill gains indicator in the VR Program Year.

In addition to the GPRA measures, the following program measure has been established for the VRTAC-QM and the VRTAC-QE: The number and percentage of participating State VR agencies that adopt quality management or quality employment strategies and practices as a result of training and technical assistance provided under this grant.

Applicable short-term and long-term indicators and targets will be specified in the VRTAC-QM and VRTAC-QE cooperative agreements. Grant recipients will report the data necessary to assess performance against these measures, indicators, and targets in their quarterly, annual and final performance reports.

Annual project progress toward meeting project goals must be posted on the project website.

6. Continuation Awards: In making a continuation award under 34 CFR 75.253, the Secretary considers, among other things: whether a grantee has made substantial progress in achieving the goals and objectives of the project; whether the grantee has expended funds in a manner that is consistent with its approved application and budget; and, if the Secretary has established performance measurement requirements, the performance targets in the grantee's approved application.

In making a continuation award, the Secretary also considers whether the grantee is operating in compliance with the assurances in its approved application, including those applicable to Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).

VII. Other Information

Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document and a copy of the application package 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. You may access the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations at Start Printed Page 46615 www.govinfo.gov. 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 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.

Start Signature

Mark Schultz,

Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration, Delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

Footnotes

1.  “Logic model” (also referred to as a theory of action) means a framework that identifies key project components of the proposed project (i.e., the active “ingredients” that are hypothesized to be critical to achieving the relevant outcomes) and describes the theoretical and operational relationships among the key project components and relevant outcomes.

Back to Citation

2.  “Logic model” (also referred to as a theory of action) means a framework that identifies key project components of the proposed project (i.e., the active “ingredients” that are hypothesized to be critical to achieving the relevant outcomes) and describes the theoretical and operational relationships among the key project components and relevant outcomes.

Back to Citation

[FR Doc. 2020-16686 Filed 7-30-20; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 4000-01-P