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                                                       Calendar No. 318

105th Congress                                                   Report
 2d Session                      SENATE                         105-166
_______________________________________________________________________


 
                 REHABILITATION ACT AMENDMENTS OF 1998

                                _______
                                

                 March 2, 1998.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______


    Mr. Jeffords, from the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1579]

    The Committee on Labor and Human Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 1579) to amend the Rehabilitation Act of 
1973, to reauthorize and to make improvements to the Act, and 
for other purposes, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon and recommends the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
  I. Introduction and Purpose.........................................1
 II. Background and Need for Legislation..............................3
III. Legislative History and Committee Action.........................5
 IV. Explanation of the Bill and Committee Views......................7
  V. Cost Estimate...................................................39
 VI. Application of law to the legislative branch....................43
VII. Regulatory Impact Statement.....................................44
VIII.Section-by-Section Analysis.....................................44


                      I. Introduction and Purpose

    S. 1579 was the result of extensive discussions among 
Senators and officials of the U.S. Department of Education, as 
well as discussions and recommendations from individuals with 
many different disabilities and organizations that represent 
them, from rehabilitation professionals in both the public and 
private sectors, advocates for individuals with disabilities, 
and individual directors who administer State vocational 
rehabilitation programs. The legislation was developed through 
a bipartisan, consensus-based process that preceded committee 
action.
    The purposes of S. 1579, the Rehabilitation Act Amendments 
of 1998, are to: (1) link the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and 
the Workforce Investment Partnership Act of 1998 (WIPA) and 
link the State vocational rehabilitation systems to the 
existing and developing State workforce investment systems: (2) 
streamline the current vocational rehabilitation system to make 
it more efficient, economical, user-friendly, and easy to 
access; (3) provide greater access to information technology; 
(4) make improvements to discretionary programs related to 
personnel training, research, and demonstration projects; (5) 
improve the delivery of services to individuals with 
disabilities to provide them enhanced consumer choice, more 
jobs, and better jobs; and (6) extend through 2004 the 
authorizations of programs under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 
that expired in fiscal year 1997.
    WIPA reestablishes and realigns the national workforce 
development and training system to make it more user-friendly 
and accessible. Part of that realignment is its link to the 
vocational rehabilitation system. Authorized by the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, this system is the country's major 
Federally funded job training program for disabled individuals. 
Its link to the new workforce development system will ensure 
that information about, and proper referrals between, the two 
systems provide a true safety net for individuals who would 
otherwise fall through the gap between the two systems.
    State vocational rehabilitation agencies are saddled with 
repetitive and wasteful administrative requirements. The 
``Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998'' have done away with 
many unnecessary procedures making the system more efficient, 
cost effective, and user friendly. For example, State 
vocational rehabilitation agencies' requirements for developing 
their State plans have been reduced and consolidated from 36 to 
24 and the mandatory 1.5% set aside from a State's Federal 
allotment for the development of a ``strategic plan'' is 
eliminated. These steps alone will save States millions of 
dollars and countless hours that can all be better applied 
towards providing job training services. Furthermore, State 
vocational rehabilitation agencies' requirements for 
establishing an individual's eligibility for their services 
have been simplified. Not only will this change save States 
precious resources, but it will allow easier access for more 
individuals who qualify for job training/rehabilitation 
services.
    Finally, the ``Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998'' 
generally improve the way job training and rehabilitation 
services are provided. The committee took full advantage of its 
opportunity to reauthorize the ``Rehabilitation Act of 1973'' 
and not only linked it to WIPA, but made enhancements over and 
above streamlining the program. The Amendments provide needed 
emphasis on self-employment, consumer choice, shared 
development of State plans among the various components of a 
State's disability leadership, access to computers and 
information technology, and assurances that all individuals 
with disabilities receive at least information and referral 
services (especially referral to the State's workforce 
development system).

                II. Background and Need for Legislation

                               Background

    The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides comprehensive job 
training services to individuals with physical or mental 
disabilities. Administered by the Department of Education's 
Rehabilitation Services Administration, it is the major 
Federally funded program to do so. Its major goal is to help 
disabled individuals become employable and achieve self-
sufficiency, independence, and integration into society.
    The Rehabilitation Act was initially enacted by Congress in 
1920 as a way of returning injured workers to their jobs. When 
the United States entered World War II, the Act was expanded to 
help the country meet workforce shortages at home. It was not 
amended again until 1973 when Congress gave priority under the 
Act to individuals with severe disabilities, assuming these 
individuals were deemed to have employment potential. The 1978 
amendments created a major new service category comprehensive 
services for independent living. This program was designed to 
assist individuals become more independent and integrated into 
society. At the time, it was viewed, as an alternative 
vocational rehabilitation, although it is appropriatly viewed 
as its complement. The Act was expanded again in 1986 by 
creating programs for individuals with disabilities who could 
not achieve or maintain employment without special assistance. 
These ``supported employment'' services often include ``job 
coaches'' who may stay at or periodically visit an individual's 
worksite.
    The Act was last amended and reauthorized in 1992 for five 
years. Amendments to title I included provisions that again, 
emphasized and furthered self-sufficiency and independence and 
assured that underserved populations received services. These 
amendments also modified the eligibility criteria to speed up 
the eligibility determination process and to ensure that 
individuals with severe disabilities were not determined to be 
ineligible for vocational rehabilitation services programs 
because of the severity of their disabilities. In particular, 
the 1992 amendments provided that all individuals with 
disabilities are presumed to benefit from a State's vocational 
rehabilitation services and to have the potential to engage in 
employment unless the State vocational agency demonstrates that 
the individual is incapable of doing so. As a result of the 
amendments, the eligibility rates rose from 56.5% in 1992 to 
76.5% in 1996. Retained in the 1992 amendments was ``order of 
selection''. When a State is financially unable to serve all 
those who are eligible, it must prioritize who receives 
services by defining and then serving first who are ``most 
severely disabled.''
    In the 104th Congress an effort was made to reauthorize the 
Act through the Workforce Development Act of 1995, which would 
have consolidated and improved the Federal approach to support 
for job training. In that legislation, which was adopted by the 
Senate but not enacted, the Rehabilitation Act would have 
remained a free-standing statute that would have linked State 
vocational rehabilitation agencies to other job training 
components in State workforce systems.
    The committee continues to believe that, in order to 
strengthen and improve job opportunities for individuals with 
disabilities, the Rehabilitation Act must be reauthorized and 
State vocational rehabilitation services must be linked to 
State workforce systems, without compromising the integrity, 
vitality, and unique nature of State vocational rehabilitation 
agencies.

                          Need for Legislation

    Prior to any fact finding or review of current law, the 
Committee on Labor and Human Resources's Subcommittee on 
Employment and Training felt that this legislation, the 
``Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998,'' was essential for 
two reasons. First, in the new light of WIPA and its efforts to 
create a seamless job training system, this legislation was 
necessary to complete that effort. The Rehabilitation Act of 
1973 and the new ``Rehabilitation Amendments of 1998'' are not 
merely disability programs. Their roots are in job training and 
job placement programs and it is in that spirit that this job 
training legislation was drafted to complement and link with 
the new workforce system under WIPA. It must be perfectly clear 
that it is the committee's intent to make a State's vocational 
rehabilitation program an integral component of a State's 
workforce system, creating a comprehensive job training system 
capable of serving all who come to its doors.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ As expressed in section IV of this Report, it is also the 
committee's intent to assure the integrity of the vocational 
rehabilitation system. As it is linked to developing State workforce 
systems, it will retain its separate funding stream and governance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Second, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973's current 
authorization expired September 30, 1997 and therefore the law 
required a reauthorization if its programs were to continue. 
When the committee took up the current legislation, the Act was 
in its fifth month of extension pursuant to the General 
Education Provisions Act.\2\ This reauthorization legislation 
is the product of a lengthy and detailed review of the current 
law done in an effort to meet these two needs.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\ This Act (GEPA) provides for an automatic one year extension 
for the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provided Congress does not act to 
reauthorize the Act prior to its expiration.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Subcommittee on Employment and Training, chaired by 
Senator Mike DeWine, began its review process in July 1997 with 
a hearing in Washington, DC on July 10 and a hearing in 
Columbus, Ohio on July 21. The witnesses at each hearing 
represented the ``stakeholders'' in the vocational 
rehabilitation process: Federal officials from the Department 
of Education, rehabilitation services providers, State 
administrators, consumers, and consumer advocates. The 
Subcommittee found, that in addition to the two needs for 
legislation mentioned above, those affected most by this Act 
had many other needs and suggestions for change.
    The witnesses focused on six major themes in which they, as 
professionals in and consumers of vocational rehabilitation, 
felt the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 needed improvement. They 
were: consumer choice, streamlining the system's administrative 
process, due process, partnerships and links with the WIPA, 
increasing the number of successful employment outcomes, and 
extending the reauthorization period.
    Of particular note were the statements offered by Judith 
Heumann, the Assistant Secretary of Education in the Office of 
Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Eric Parks, the 
Chairman of the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission, Janet 
E. Samuelson, President, Fairfax Opportunities Unlimited of 
Alexandria, Virginia, and Bobby Simpson, the President of the 
Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation 
and the Director of the Arkansas Rehabilitation Services.
    Judith Heumann, speaking about the issue of consumer 
choice, stated:
          ``. . . we must continue to reach toward the ideal of 
        guaranteeing that people with disabilities are active 
        participants in the rehabilitation process [and that] 
        consumers have the right to choose in regard to the 
        selection of their employment goal, the services needed 
        to reach their goal, the providers of such services, 
        and the methods to be used to procure the services and 
        provide a clear framework of how choice is provided.''
    Eric Parks, speaking about the issue of facilitating 
partnerships and linkages, stated,
          ``In our efforts to maximize all available resources, 
        we have to come to understand the extraordinary value 
        of partnerships . . . Some matters remain to be 
        resolved [and the question we must always ask] is `how 
        will this change better help [the] critical Federal/
        State partnership put someone to work in the most 
        effective manner?' ''
    Also speaking to the issue of partnerships and linkages, 
Janet Samuelson, the President of Fairfax Opportunities 
Unlimited testified that,
          ``The proposed language on linkages to State 
        workforce development programs should help assure 
        access and coordination. Common intake and referral 
        systems and requirements for cooperative efforts with 
        employers are good proposals.''
    Finally, Bobby Simpson, speaking to the issue of increasing 
the number of successful employment outcomes, testified that,
          ``The clear purpose and function of the vocational 
        rehabilitation program should be to place individuals 
        with disabilities in competitive employment in 
        integrated settings with earnings at or above minimum 
        wage. People with disabilities want the same kind of 
        jobs that you and I want. They want real jobs in the 
        competitive labor market, wherein they can perform real 
        work which contributes to the national economy.''
    The subcommittee concluded, based on the information 
obtained through two hearings, that the need for this 
reauthorization legislation extended well beyond the original 
necessities, to link the program to the WIPA and to reauthorize 
the expired Act. Because the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was 
last amended in 1992 these changes are necessary not only in 
light of the WIPA, but also to update and further, build upon 
the positive changes made in 1992.

             III. Legislative History and Committee Action

    On July 10, 1997, and July 21, 1997 the Senate Committee on 
Labor and Human Resources's Subcommittee on Employment and 
Training held hearings on the reauthorization of the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (S. Hrgs. 105-174 and 105-137), and 
the following individuals provided testimony:
July 10 (Washington, D.C.)
    Judith Heumann, Assistant Secretary, Office of Special 
Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of 
Education, Washington, D.C.;
    Frederic K. Schroeder, Commissioner, Rehabilitation 
Services Administration, Office of Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education, 
Washington, D.C.;
    Katherine Seelman, Director, National Institute of 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Office of Special 
Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of 
Education, Washington, D.C.;
    Eric Parks, Chairman, Ohio Rehabilitative Services 
Commission, Columbus, Ohio;
    Traci Meece, a consumer, Ohio Rehabilitative Services 
Commission, Columbus, Ohio;
    Kevin Veller, Executive Director, Vermont Association of 
Business, Industry, and Rehabilitation, Winooski, Vermont;
    Jay Johnson, Director, of the Center for Independent 
Living, East Grand Forks, Minnesota and a member of the 
National Council for Independent Living;
    Janet E. Samuelson, President, Fairfax Opportunities 
Unlimited, Alexandria, Virginia;
    Douglas Taksar, former consumer, Fairfax Opportunities 
Unlimited, Alexandria, Virginia;
    Paul Marchand, Chairman, Consortium for Citizens with 
Disabilities, Washington, DC; and
    Bobby Simpson, President, Council of State Administrators 
of Vocational Rehabilitation and Director, Arkansas 
Rehabilitation Services, Hot Springs, Arkansas.
    Additional statements and letters regarding the 
reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 were also 
received and placed into the record.
July 21 (Columbus, Ohio)
    Robert L. Rabe, Administrator, Ohio Rehabilitation Services 
Commission, Columbus, Ohio;
    Bruce S. Growick, Ph.D., associate professor, the Ohio 
State University, Columbus, Ohio;
    Rose Ann Hermiller, vocational rehabilitation supervisor, 
Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission, Columbus, Ohio;
    Barbara Corner, client advocate, Ohio Client Assistance 
Program, Columbus, Ohio;
    Katina Karoulis, community employment specialist, Ohio 
Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental 
Disabilities, Columbus, Ohio; and
    Claudia Bergquist, president, Ohio Association of the Deaf, 
Columbus, Ohio.
    Additional statements and letters regarding the 
reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 were also 
received and placed into the record.
    On January 28, 1998, Senators DeWine, Jeffords, Kennedy, 
Wellstone, Harkin, Frist, Collins, Dodd, Reed, Chafee, and 
Bingaman introduced the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, 
S. 1579.
    On February 4, 1998, the Senate Committee on Labor and 
Human Resources met in Executive Session to consider Senate 
bill 1579, the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. The 
committee voted on the following amendments:
    Senator DeWine offered a set of technical amendments which:
          1) clarified the term ``Governor'' throughout the 
        bill by inserting a new definition that stated that the 
        term Governor may include ``another appropriate officer 
        of the State;''
          2) clarified the term ``personnel'' as being those 
        who are ``employed by the designated State unit;''
          3) corrected the length of reauthorization of the 
        Helen Keller National Center Act by changing its 
        renewal year from 2000 to 2004; and
          4) renamed the ``President's Committee on National 
        Employ the Physically Handicapped Week'' to the 
        ``President's Committee on Employment of People with 
        Disabilities.''
    The amendment was accepted through a unanimous consent.
    Final Action: The bill as amended was reported favorably by 
unanimous voice vote.

              IV. Explanation of Bill and Committee Views

    Along with the Senate Labor and Human Resource Committee's 
intended purposes for this legislation, there are two 
fundamental reasons S. 1579, The Rehabilitation Act Amendments 
of 1998, needed to be considered. The first is the critical 
consideration of the underlying Act's (Rehabilitation Act of 
1973) expiration. That law expired on September 30, 1997. 
Without a reauthorization by September 30, 1998 the essential 
job training programs for individuals with disabilities would 
no longer be authorized to receive Federal funding. The 
committee reauthorizes the Act for seven years. The committee 
intends a seven year reauthorization to mirror WIPA's job 
training authorization as well as give State vocational 
rehabilitation agencies ample opportunity to implement S. 
1579's many changes.
    The second is the practical consideration of creating a 
seamless Federal job training system. As stated, WIPA 
dramatically reforms the nation's job training system in an 
attempt to better serve more people. The Rehabilitation Act, in 
addition to being a disability program, is a job training 
program. To properly develop a cohesive national job training 
system, this program must be synchronized with the newly formed 
programs under WIPA. Therefore, it is the committee's intent to 
facilitate that goal by linking the two systems. The bill 
includes extensive links between vocational rehabilitation 
agencies and State workforce systems. For example, amendments 
related to linkage are found throughout the bill in sections 
pertaining to the findings and purposes of the legislation, 
definitions, program administration, reports, information 
dissemination, and State plan requirements, including those 
concerning data reporting. Complementary and parallel 
provisions to promote linkage between vocational rehabilitation 
agencies and State workforce systems also are included in WIPA.
    However, it is also the committee's intent that this 
partnership does not violate the integrity of the vocational 
rehabilitation system. Under no circumstance will the funds of 
a State vocational rehabilitation agency be diverted to any 
purposes other than those spelled out in the Rehabilitation 
Act. The programs funded under WIPA must fulfill their 
responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act to 
make their programs and services available and accessible to 
individuals with disabilities and must not rely on 
Rehabilitation Act funds. The committee intends that vocational 
rehabilitation funds be transferred to workforce investment 
centers only when and to what extent such centers house staff 
from the State vocational rehabilitation agency for the purpose 
of conducting the business of the State vocational 
rehabilitation program or, because of a contract or some other 
mechanism, the workforce investment center staff actually 
provides services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act to 
individuals with disabilities who are seeking and are eligible 
to receive such services.
    The committee's agglutinated intended purposes for S. 1579 
include and extend beyond the two basic needs for the 
legislation. These additional reasons came to light and were 
adopted by the committee as the Subcommittee on Employment and 
Training conducted hearings on the reauthorization and through 
an open and lengthy negotiation process that included 
vocational rehabilitation consumers, counselors, consumer 
advocates, the U.S. Department of Education, and State 
vocational rehabilitation agencies representatives.
    These additional reasons include several changes that 
simplify the delivery of vocational rehabilitation services and 
increase the ability of State vocational rehabilitation 
agencies and job training agencies to work together to reach 
and assist individuals with disabilities. The committee creates 
new opportunities and expands existing ones to improve 
employment options for individuals with disabilities. 
Expansions include the promotion of self-employment as an 
employment outcome and discretionary dollars for self-
employment and telecommuting initiatives. The committee feels 
individuals should develop their own individual rehabilitation 
employment plans (IREPs) or have the opportunity to work with a 
qualified vocational rehabilitation counselor in doing so. The 
committee intends for State vocational rehabilitation agencies 
to provide information up-front to individuals about how the 
State vocational rehabilitation system works. The committee 
also establishes new levels of accountability in the vocational 
rehabilitation process, so that comparisons within States and 
across State lines can be made about State efforts to help 
individuals with disabilities secure, maintain, regain, or 
advance in employment. The committee revamps the Rehabilitation 
Act's dispute resolution process and current data collection 
requirements so that the new data requirements emphasize 
outcomes over process, to parallel those in WIPA.
    To proclaim and establish these intentions and goals, the 
committee bill makes numerous changes, both broad and detailed, 
to the Rehabilitation Act in the following areas:

                      Provisions Preceding Title I

    The committee bill includes many powerful links and 
references to WIPA within the Findings, Purposes, and Policies 
of the Act, as well as in other areas through S. 1579. As 
stated, the committee strongly believes that unless such links 
are clearly established many individuals will be denied the 
employment-related assistance they need and deserve.
    To accommodate the changes to the Rehabilitation Act, the 
committee adds many new definitions; several of which require 
particular clarification.
    The term ``administrative costs'' provides specific 
examples of expenses that would be considered administrative 
costs, but is not meant to be an exhaustive list. For example, 
section 7(1)(C) would include expenses incurred in providing 
the full range of due process protections, including voluntary 
mediation available to an individual under section 102(c).
    The terms ``local workforce investment partnership,'' 
``statewide workforce investment partnership,'' ``statewide 
workforce investment system,'' and ``workforce investment 
activities'' are intended to mirror the meanings provided to 
these terms in WIPA.
    The term ``underemployment'' covers situations in which 
individuals with disabilities are employed at levels beneath 
what they are capable of doing and what they want to be doing. 
For example, an individual with a disability who was previously 
trained as a nurse, but is currently employed as a nurse's 
aide, would be ``underemployed.'' The Rehabilitation Act funds 
programs that help individuals get jobs, initial jobs, and jobs 
they would not have achieved otherwise because of their 
disabilities.
    The term ``requires vocational rehabilitation services'' 
covers, as a specific category, individuals who receive SSI or 
SSDI benefits. The phrase ``intends to achieve an employment 
outcome'' clarifies the committee's intent that individuals 
receiving SSI or SSDI benefits who intend to achieve an 
employment outcome are presumed eligible for vocational 
rehabilitation services. State vocational rehabilitation 
agencies may rebut this presumption and deny such individuals 
services the same way they can deny services to any other 
individual coming to their doors--i.e., in the case in which an 
individual does not expect to work or by demonstrating with 
clear and convincing evidence that the individual cannot 
benefit in terms of an employment outcome from vocational 
rehabilitation services. It is not the committee's intent to 
create an entitlement for individuals receiving SSI or SSDI 
benefits. Rather, in light of their obvious and likely 
pronounced disabilities, it is the committee's intent to 
encourage State vocational rehabilitation agencies to provide 
individuals receiving SSI or SSDI benefits, the services they 
plainly need. It is the committee's hope that by streamlining 
this portion of the eligibility process, State rehabilitation 
agencies will save time and money in assisting individuals 
receiving SSI or SSDI benefits.
    S. 1579 eliminates the requirement for an extended 
evaluation prior to a determination of ineligibility. The 
committee bill requires instead that State vocational 
rehabilitation agencies to explore individuals' abilities to 
perform in real work situations before concluding that an 
individual is incapable of benefitting from vocational 
rehabilitation services. This may be done through trial work 
experiences including supported employment, on-the-job 
training, or other experiences using realistic work settings. 
The trial work experiences must be of sufficient length and 
variety to demonstrate the existence of clear and convincing 
evidence that an individual cannot benefit from vocational 
rehabilitation services due to the severity of his or her 
disability. Although use of extended evaluation is no longer 
specified, it is not the committee's intent to preclude a State 
agency from using this method in circumstances in which the 
real work test is impossible or when the State vocational 
rehabilitation agency has exhausted other options without a 
determination.
    The committee changes the term ``individual with a severe 
disability'' and ``individual with a most severe disability'' 
to an ``individual with a significant disability'' and 
``individual with a most significant disability'', 
respectively. These new terms, which are preferred by many in 
the disability community, do not signify a change in meaning 
from the corresponding terms in current law.
    The committee amends the definition of ``supported 
employment''. It is the committee's intention that supported 
employment be available to individuals with the most 
significant disabilities who are placed in competitive work in 
integrated work settings, as well as to individuals with the 
most significant disabilities who are working in integrated 
work settings toward a goal of competitive work. The amended 
definition of ``supported employment'' is not meant to diminish 
the basic intent of the supported employment model: to provide 
employment opportunities in the competitive, integrated labor 
market for individuals with the most significant disabilities. 
By revising the current definition of ``supported employment'', 
the committee acknowledges that many individuals with the most 
significant disabilities can achieve competitive work in 
integrated work settings but may need additional services and 
supports in order to reach that important goal.
    Finally, although not identified as a definition in section 
7, the term ``integrated setting'' as referenced throughout the 
statute, is intended to mean a work setting in a typical labor 
market site where people with disabilities engage in typical 
daily work patterns with co-workers who do not have 
disabilities; and where workers with disabilities are not 
congregated. It is the committee's intent that this definition 
include telecommuting or other home-based or self-employment.
    The committee links (or makes consistent) administrative 
and reporting requirements in the Rehabilitation Act with those 
in WIPA. For example, the bill requires that reports submitted 
by State vocational rehabilitation agencies to the 
Rehabilitation Services Administration include information 
about the employment status of individuals assisted, that to 
the maximum extent appropriate, is the same as information 
required in WIPA. In addition, the bill includes an amendment 
requiring the Information Clearinghouse, in information it 
disseminates, to provide information and data regarding the 
location, provision, and availability of services and programs 
for individuals with disabilities, including such information 
provided by statewide workforce partnerships established under 
WIPA. It is the committee's intent that these links further its 
goal of coordinating States' generic workforce systems with 
States' vocational rehabilitation systems.
    The bill also adds a new provision requiring the 
Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Administration to conduct 
studies and analyses to identify exemplary practices concerning 
vocational rehabilitation. Such studies are to address: 
providing informed choice in the rehabilitation process, 
promoting consumer satisfaction, promoting job placement and 
retention, providing supported employment, providing services 
to particular disability populations, financing personal 
assistance services, providing assistive technology devices and 
assistive technology services, entering into cooperative 
agreements, establishing standards and certification for 
community rehabilitation programs, converting from 
nonintegrated to integrated employment, and providing caseload 
management.
    It is the committee's intent that funds allocated to 
evaluation activities be directed primarily to identifying and 
disseminating information about what works well, and away from 
identifying, defining, or redefining problems connected to the 
employment and independence of individuals with disabilities.
    It is the committee's intent that the section (16), which 
precludes the use of allotted funds for any purpose other than 
those provided for in the Rehabilitation Act, be interpreted 
literally. Although it is the committee's intent to fulfill the 
need of this legislation to help create a seamless job training 
system, it must be emphasized that its funding may not be 
diluted or diverted to other purposes in doing so.

              Title I--Vocational Rehabilitation Services

                       Part A--General Provisions

                               State Plan

    Through S. 1579 the committee streamlines the 
administration of the State vocational rehabilitation program. 
The committee specifies that a State is required to submit a 
State plan, containing information about vocational 
rehabilitation services, policies, procedures, or descriptions, 
only once. That provision applies to information that has been 
previously submitted to the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation 
Services Administration and that demonstrates that the State 
meets the requirements of title I of the Act, including any 
policies, procedures, or descriptions submitted under the title 
as in effect on the day before the effective date of the 
Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. The bill specifies that 
a State's plan shall remain in effect, subject to the 
submission of such modifications as the State determines to be 
necessary or as the Commissioner may require, based on a change 
in State policy, a change in Federal law (including 
regulations), an interpretation of the Act by a Federal court 
or the highest court of the State, or a finding by the 
Commissioner of State noncompliance with the requirements of 
the Act, until the State submits and receives approval of a new 
State plan. It is the committee's intent that this streamlining 
will reduce costs and save time.
    It is the committee's intent that the changes to the 
provisions regarding ``order of selection'' not affect its 
basic premise; i.e., when a State rehabilitation agency cannot 
afford to serve all its eligible individuals, to provide 
vocational rehabilitation services to those individuals meeting 
a State's definition of ``individual with a most significant 
disability'' first. It is the committee's intent that the 
amended portion of this section provide eligible individuals, 
who do not meet the order of selection criteria, with access to 
services provided through an expanded information and referral 
system implemented under section 101(a)(20)(B) of the Act. The 
committee feels that by giving States additional flexibility 
with regard to assistance they should or could provide 
individuals with disabilities, who do not meet State criteria 
for access to the full range of vocational rehabilitation 
services, more individuals with disabilities will secure 
employment.
    The committee encourages the establishment of parallel 
personnel standards in public and private rehabilitation 
programs. Therefore, to the extent private providers of 
vocational rehabilitation services use personnel who do not 
meet the highest requirements in the State applicable to a 
particular profession or discipline, private providers must 
take steps to ensure the retraining or hiring of personnel who 
do meet a State's professional standards. It is the committee's 
hope that this will result in more individuals with 
disabilities receiving appropriate, effective, and timely 
assistance from a greater number of more qualified personnel.
    The committee intends to streamline and simplify 
requirements related to personnel of State vocational 
rehabilitation agencies and therefore deletes States' 
obligations to provide 5-year projections on personnel needs 
and data on graduates from institutions of higher education and 
includes a revised comprehensive system of personnel 
development.
    The comprehensive system of personnel development was 
initially included as part of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments 
of 1992 to address the need for qualified vocational 
rehabilitation personnel. The requirement that qualified 
vocational rehabilitation counselors and other staff meet 
standards that are consistent with national or State 
certification, licensure, or registration requirements is a 
critical aspect of the comprehensive system of personnel 
development.
    The committee recognizes that additional resources may be 
needed to assist existing staff in meeting certification, 
licensure, or registration standards that are the highest in 
the State for each profession. That is why the committee 
shifted funding for inservice training for State vocational 
rehabilitation agency staff from title III to title I of the 
Act. The committee intends that the provisions that transfer 
this activity, and its related funding, ensure inflationary 
increases in the funds available to State vocational 
rehabilitation agencies for administering their comprehensive 
systems of personnel development. The set-aside does not 
preclude a State from expending additional title I funds 
(Federal or State match) to support necessary training or other 
aspects of the comprehensive system of personnel development.
    The committee is pleased that the Administration supports 
the committee's intent to move the in-service training 
requirements and their funding from section 302 to section 110 
of the Act. The President's fiscal year 1999 request for the 
training program is $33,685,000. The request shifts $5,944,000 
to title I for in-service training. The fiscal year 1998 
appropriation for the training program is $39,629,000.
    The committee intends that the standards adopted by a State 
under a comprehensive system for personnel development shall 
not discriminate on the basis of disability with regard to 
training and hiring. This committee firmly believes that 
professional certification standards that have the effect of 
limiting the participation of individuals with disabilities in 
the profession or discipline to which the standards apply must 
not be allowed.
    The committee intends to: consolidate reporting 
requirements to save time and resources, allow the use of 
sampling to reduce costs, and ensure reporting that parallels 
that required under WIPA to permit comparisons on employment 
outcomes for all individuals and more effectively link the two 
job training systems.
    It is the committee's intent that no residence requirement 
be imposed on individuals seeking to receive services from a 
State vocational rehabilitation program. The requirement for an 
individual to be present in the State in order to be determined 
eligible to receive services should not be interpreted in any 
way to circumvent an individual's choice of an out-of-state 
service provider. With regard to such out-of-state placements, 
the committee intends that the requirement ``to be present in 
the State'' be imposed at the time of eligibility determination 
and not be used as a means of denying the continuation of 
services which are being provided in an out-of-state setting. 
This interpretation is necessary to ensure the continuation of 
services since referral to another State agency will in no way 
ensure such continuation of services.
    The Act requires an annual review and reevaluation of the 
status of each individual with a disability served under title 
I, who has achieved an employment outcome either in an extended 
employment setting, in a community rehabilitation program, or 
any other employment under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor 
Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 214(c)) for 2 years after the 
achievement of the outcome (and annually thereafter if 
requested by the individual or, if appropriate, the 
individual's representative). This evaluation is to determine 
the interests, priorities, and needs of the individual with 
respect to competitive employment or training for competitive 
employment.
    The committee is concerned that the required annual review 
of individuals placed in extended employment or other 
employment under wage certificates have been conducted in a 
rather superficial manner in the past. The committee views this 
statutory provision as critically important to ensuring that 
individuals with significant disabilities progress to jobs in 
the competitive integrated job market. To this end, the 
committee intends that these reviews not be merely paper 
exercises or discussions with staff at the community 
rehabilitation program at which the individual is employed. The 
reviews must be conducted in such a manner to ensure 
appropriate involvement of the individual or the individual's 
representative. In addition, the review must be supported by 
adequate documentation, including a signed acknowledgment from 
the individual or the individual's representative.
    The committee intends that a State not use any funds made 
available under title I of the Act for the construction of 
facilities. The committee strongly contends that the need to 
spend Federal funds through the Rehabilitation Act on 
construction has long since passed.
    Unlike current law which specified a 1.5% minimum, the bill 
authorizes the State to determine the amount it will reserve 
for innovation and expansion activities. Nevertheless, States 
are required to reserve funds sufficient to support effective 
expansion activities and to provide the full amount of 
resources necessary for the State Rehabilitation Councils and 
the State Independent Living Councils to carry out their 
responsibilities. The amount of support reserved for the 
Councils should be consistent with the resource plans developed 
by the State Rehabilitation Council under section 105(d) and by 
the Statewide Independent Living Council under section 705(e). 
The committee hopes State vocational rehabilitation agencies 
to, at a minimum, maintain funding for the Councils at the same 
level established for fiscal year 1998 plus the amount 
necessary to enable the Councils to carry out any additional 
responsibilities assigned under this bill.
    Simplifying current law, the committee now requires State 
vocational rehabilitation agencies to submit to the 
Commissioner reports containing annual updates of the 
information required in the Act in section 101(a)(7) (relating 
to a comprehensive system of personnel development) and any 
other updates of the information required under section 101 
that are requested by the Commissioner, annual reports as 
provided in section 101(a)(15) (relating to assessments, 
estimates, goals and priorities, and reports of progress) and 
section 101(a)(18) (relating to innovation and expansion), at 
such time and in such manner as the Secretary may determine to 
be appropriate. The committee intends this simplification to 
further streamline administrative requirements under Act 
freeing State vocational rehabilitation agencies to spend more 
resources on assistance for individuals with disabilities.

             Cooperative Agreements and Comparable Benefits

    The committee intends the State vocational rehabilitation 
agency to determine whether comparable services and benefits 
are available under another program (other than a program 
carried out under title I of the Act), before providing 
services to an individual, unless such a determination would 
interrupt or delay the progress of the individual toward 
achieving the employment outcome identified in the individual's 
individualized rehabilitation employment plan or would 
interrupt or delay the provision of such service to any 
individual at extreme medical risk.
    To facilitate the payment of comparable benefits, the 
committee intends that State vocational rehabilitation agencies 
enter into appropriate agreements or contracts with other 
public entities. Such agreements are to include the following: 
a description of a public entity's financial responsibility for 
providing services, which shall precede the financial 
responsibility of the designated State unit (especially with 
regard to the provision of auxiliary aids and services); 
information specifying the conditions, terms, and procedures 
under which a designated State unit pursues and obtains 
reimbursement from other public agencies; information 
specifying procedures for resolving interagency disputes; 
information specifying policies and procedures for agencies to 
identify responsibilities of each agency to ensure the timely 
delivery of vocational rehabilitation services.
    The committee bases its intent on an established public 
policy that the State vocational rehabilitation agency be the 
payor of last resort. This assures that more funds will be 
available to more individuals with disabilities while also 
assuring that other agencies and organizations live up to their 
obligations to individuals with disabilities. For example, it 
is the committee's intent that other public entities meet their 
obligation to provide services and benefits otherwise required 
of them by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    The committee also clarifies that comparable benefits do 
not include awards and scholarships based on merit. The 
committee feels that individuals with disabilities, who achieve 
financial awards based on merit, should not have such awards 
used as basis to reduce publicly-funded assistance to achieve 
an employment outcome.
    The committee clarifies conditions under which State 
vocational rehabilitation personnel may serve students with 
disabilities, and obligates State vocational rehabilitation 
agencies to enter into cooperative agreements with Independent 
Living Councils, Independent Living Centers, and recipients of 
grants for services to American Indians.
    In addition to interagency agreements and contracts dealing 
with comparable benefits, the committee expects interagency 
coordination between any appropriate public entity, including a 
component of the statewide workforce investment system, and the 
vocational rehabilitation agency. It is the committee's intent 
that these agreements, contracts, and other mechanisms further 
the public policy of making the State vocational rehabilitation 
agency the payor of last resort. Because there are so many 
individuals in need of vocational rehabilitation services, 
every dollar must be spent as wisely and practically as 
possible. Looking to other State and Federal agencies that are 
both required and capable of providing needed services will 
help achieve that goal. Such agreements must ensure the 
provision of vocational rehabilitation services that are 
included in the individualized rehabilitation employment plan. 
This includes services provided during the pendency of any 
dispute between entities over which entity could or should 
cover the cost of vocational rehabilitation services.
    These cooperative agreements may take any form or address 
any topic, but the committee intends for these agreements to 
facilitate more communication, understanding, cooperation, and 
to prevent more individuals from falling through the gaps 
between the systems. Therefore, these agreements are intended 
to address interagency staff training, the provision of similar 
intake procedures, shared data bases regarding job opening and 
labor market information, and cooperative measures between the 
State rehabilitation agency and the State education agency.
    Regarding the dissemination of labor market information, 
the committee includes a reference to nonvisual electronic 
networks to ensure that information access needs of blind and 
visually impaired individuals are addressed in the development 
and dissemination of employment and training services by 
electronic means. The use of systems which convert electronic 
text into synthesized speech for access by telephone is one 
promising approach now possible with state-of-the-art 
technology. The committee believes that systems such as this 
can be used effectively and will help to provide both nonvisual 
and universal access to important information about 
opportunities and resources.
    With regard to the provision of transition services for 
students with disabilities, the committee encourages State 
vocational rehabilitation agencies to assist schools in 
identifying transition services as part of the development of 
the individualized education program (IEP) for those children 
who are receiving services under the Individuals with 
Disabilities Education Act. The committee intends that State 
vocational rehabilitation agencies may also participate in the 
cost of transition services for any student with a disability 
so long as those students have been determined eligible to 
receive vocational rehabilitation services under title I of the 
Rehabilitation Act. The committee believes that the extent to 
which the State vocational rehabilitation agency and 
educational agency personnel work together in planning for a 
student's transition following school, developing the 
individualized education program as it relates to transition, 
or in providing transition services is to be determined at the 
State or local level and reflected in an interagency agreement 
to which the State vocational rehabilitation agency and, at a 
minimum, the State educational agency are parties.
    Regarding cooperative agreements between the State 
vocational rehabilitation agencies and the State education 
officials, the committee intends these activities to facilitate 
the transition of secondary school students with disabilities 
from school to post school activities. With regard to 
transition planning for students with disabilities, the 
committee believes strongly that transition planning should be 
construed as a constellation of activities designed to assist 
students with disabilities to plan for their post school years. 
Appropriate activities include community career exploration, 
functional vocational assessment, career counseling, 
acquisition of independent living skills, use and aquisition of 
assistive technology, participation in IEP meetings, and 
similar activities. Furthermore, the committee intends that 
formal interagency agreements between State vocational 
rehabilitation agencies and education officials identify their 
respective roles and responsibilities, including financial 
responsibilities, with regard to transition planning. Finally, 
for the purpose of cooperating in transition planning for 
students with disabilities, the committee views, as a matter of 
State discretion, whether State vocational rehabilitation 
agency requires formal application, determination of 
eligibility, or development of an individualized rehabilitation 
employment plan prior to participating in individual transition 
planning activities.
    It is the committee's intent that public institutions of 
higher education meet their responsibilities under section 504 
of this Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by 
providing necessary auxiliary aids and services for individuals 
with disabilities who attend these institutions. The purpose of 
cooperative agreement or other mechanisms is to promote 
effective coordination between the State vocational 
rehabilitation agencies and other agencies, including 
institutions of higher education, ensuring that individuals, 
who are eligible for vocational rehabilitation services from or 
through a State vocational rehabilitation agency, receive 
appropriate support services in a timely manner.
    The committee gives States maximum flexibility in complying 
with this provision. It specifies that the Chief Executive 
Officer of a State or other appropriate official may meet the 
requirements associated with agreements or other mechanisms 
through a State statute or regulation; a signed agreement 
between the respective agency officials that clearly identifies 
the responsibilities of each agency relating to the provision 
of services; or another appropriate method, as determined by 
the designated State unit.
    The committee intends that the combined effect of 
cooperative agreements and the provision of comparable benefits 
will be, that over time, State vocational rehabilitation agency 
personnel will be able to more easily and quickly secure 
vocational rehabilitation services for eligible individuals 
with disabilities who seek an employment outcome by using funds 
and services from multiple sources as well as agency funds and 
agency-sponsored services.

                       Strengthening Partnerships

    The committee recognizes the need for the disability 
community in a State to play a significant role in ensuring 
that the vocational rehabilitation program operates 
effectively. Therefore, the committee, in several respects, 
significantly strengthens the role of the State Rehabilitation 
Council (formerly named the State Rehabilitation Advisory 
Council) in developing policies, planning activities, 
evaluating program effectiveness, and carrying out other 
functions related to the vocational rehabilitation program. The 
committee bill requires that the Council, in conjunction with 
the State vocational rehabilitation agency, jointly conduct the 
comprehensive needs assessment of individuals with disabilities 
in the State, develop (and agree to) the State's annual goals 
and priorities in carrying out the vocational rehabilitation 
program, and evaluate the State's performance relative to its 
goals on an annual basis. Additional sections of the S. 1579, 
including sections 101(a)(21) and 105 of the Act, build upon 
the existing Council role by specifying its broad 
responsibilities to assist the State vocational rehabilitation 
agency in, for example, developing all portions of the State 
plan and amendments thereto, as well policies, procedures, and 
reports related to the vocational rehabilitation program. 
Through the bill the committee recognizes that the Council's 
role in some States is not purely advisory and in other States 
is evolving to reflect a true partnership between the Council 
and the State vocational rehabilitation agency in ensuring that 
individuals with disabilities receive appropriate, timely, and 
effective vocational rehabilitation services.

                                 Choice

    This bill adds a requirement that the State plan include an 
assurance that applicants or eligible individuals or, as 
appropriate, the applicants' representatives or individuals' 
representatives, will be provided information and support 
services to assist the applicants or individuals in exercising 
informed choice throughout the rehabilitation process, 
consistent with the provisions of section 102(d) of the Act.
    The committee intends for vocational rehabilitation 
consumers to have an expanded role in the decisions regarding 
their job training. The committee endorses the increased 
independence of individuals with disabilities and to that end 
intends to remove from the Act processes that reinforce or 
promote paternalism. The committee believes a consumer-driven 
program is most effective in getting people jobs and therefore 
intends to offer through S. 1579 increased opportunities for 
informed consumer choices related to job training and 
placements.

                   Information and Referral Services

    The committee expands upon current regulations by expressly 
authorizing State vocational rehabilitation agencies to 
establish an expanded program of information and referral 
services for eligible individuals not being served under a 
State's order of selection. Section 101(a)(5) of the Act 
requires that individuals be provided access to information and 
referral services, which may include vocational exploration, 
assistance in securing reasonable accommodations, or other 
services specified in section 101(a)(20)(B).
    The committee intends to increase State flexibility with 
regarding information and referral services. To the extent that 
such services are not purchased by the State vocational 
rehabilitation agency, the bill gives States discretion to 
provide individualized counseling and guidance, individualized 
vocational exploration, supervised job placement referrals, and 
assistance in securing reasonable accommodations for eligible 
individuals who do not meet the State's order of selection 
criteria.
    The committee does not intend the establishment of an 
expanded program to affect the State vocational rehabilitation 
agency's obligation to provide vocational rehabilitation 
services under an individualized rehabilitation employment plan 
to those eligible individuals who do meet the State's specific 
order of selection priority categories. Moreover, the committee 
expects that services authorized under the expanded program 
must be provided by staff, or supported by other resources, of 
the State vocational rehabilitation agency and cannot be 
purchased from third-party sources. As an example, 
individualized vocational exploration might be provided through 
a self-paced computerized job search and job skill matching 
program or through consultation with a vocational 
rehabilitation counselor. In addition, assistance in securing 
reasonable accommodations could be accomplished through the use 
of the Job Accommodation Network.
    The committee is fully and unequivocally committed to 
assisting States aid individuals with disabilities to secure 
employment. By allowing a State, at its discretion, to provide 
specific forms of assistance to individuals who do not meet the 
States order of selection (if a State is under an order of 
selection), the committee helps meet this goal. The specific 
forms of assistance listed in the bill give a State and 
individuals it aids the opportunity to share information that 
can lead to a fully implemented individualized rehabilitation 
employment plan. If a State wishes to document such 
individualized assistance, beyond what is reuired under section 
101(a)(10)(C)(ii)(I), for each individual it helps, through 
these specific individualized forms of assistance, the 
committee agrees that the State should do so and submit this 
data, if it elects to do so, to the Rehabilitation Services 
Administration.

     Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Guidelines

    The committee bill requires the State vocational 
rehabilitation agency assure that the State, and any recipient 
or subrecipient of funds made available to the State, under 
title I of the Act, will comply with the requirements of 
section 508 of the Act, including the regulations established 
under that section; and will coordinate efforts to comply with 
section 508 and will adopt grievance procedures that 
incorporate due process standards and provide for the prompt 
and equitable resolution of complaints concerning such 
requirements. The committee intends this new requirement to 
further the purposes of the revised section 508, to provide 
individuals with disabilities with greater access to electronic 
information.

  Eligibility and Individualized Rehabilitation Employment Plan (IREP)

    S. 1579 streamlines and clarifies provisions in current law 
pertaining to eligibility and the IREP; strengthens the 
guidance on informed choice; and in the due process provisions, 
adds voluntary mediation, amends the review of hearing 
officers' decisions, expands access to due process, and 
clarifies what vocational rehabilitation services are to 
continue when an individual files a complaint or resolution of 
a complaint is pending. The committee intends these changes to 
provide easier access to State vocational rehabilitation 
services, preserve State resources, and emphasize the 
committee's commitment to strengthening consumer choice.
    The bill specifies that an individual is eligible for 
assistance under title I of the Act, if the individual has a 
disability as defined in section 7(20)(A) and requires 
vocational rehabilitation services to prepare for, secure, 
retain, or regain employment.
    An individual is presumed to be able to benefit in terms of 
an employment outcome from vocational rehabilitation services, 
unless the State vocational rehabilitation agency can 
demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the 
individual is incapable of benefiting in terms of an employment 
outcome due to the severity of the individual's disability. In 
making the demonstration, the designated State unit shall 
explore the individual's abilities, capabilities, and capacity 
to perform in work situations, through the use of trial work 
experiences, as described in section 7(2)(D). The State 
vocational rehabilitation agency must provide appropriate 
supports, except under limited circumstances when an individual 
cannot take advantage of such experiences.
    The committee bill adds that an individual who has a 
disability or is blind pursuant to title II or title XVI of the 
Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 401 et seq. and 1381 et seq.) is 
presumed to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services 
under title I of the Act, provided that the individual intends 
to achieve an employment outcome consistent with the unique 
strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, 
capabilities, interests, and informed choice of the individual, 
unless the designated State unit involved can demonstrate by 
clear and convincing evidence that such individual is incapable 
of benefiting in terms of an employment outcome from vocational 
rehabilitation services due to the severity of the disability 
of the individual.
    This provision recognizes that Social Security Disability 
Insurance beneficiaries (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income 
recipients (SSI) are, by virtue of the stringent criteria 
applied by the Social Security Administration in making 
disability determinations, among the most significantly 
disabled individuals who apply for vocational rehabilitation 
services. Making SSI and SSDI recipients presumptively eligible 
for vocational rehabilitation services, therefore, will enable 
designated State agencies to expedite necessary services to 
such persons without expending time and resources on 
unnecessarily duplicative determinations related to 
eligibility.
    As indicated above, the provision also states that a Social 
Security disability beneficiary is presumed eligible for 
vocational rehabilitation services ``provided the individual 
intends to achieve an employment outcome consistent with the 
unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, 
capabilities, interests, and informed choice of the 
individual.'' By this statement the committee intends to 
clarify that, for SSDI and SSI recipients, vocational 
rehabilitation services are provided for purposes of assisting 
eligible individuals, to prepare for, secure, retain, or regain 
employment. Thus, an SSDI or SSI recipient who applies for 
vocational rehabilitation services from a State vocational 
rehabilitation agency and intends on becoming employed, or 
retaining or regaining employment, is eligible to receive VR 
services.
    The committee does not intend for presumptive eligibility 
create an entitlement to vocational rehabilitation services. As 
with any applicant, a State vocational rehabilitation agency 
can find a SSDI or SSI recipient ineligible for VR services if 
it can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the 
severity of the individual's disability prohibits the 
individual from benefitting from vocational rehabilitation 
services.
    Although an SSDI or SSI recipient is considered an 
``individual with a significant disability'' (under 
102(a)(3)(A)), presumptive eligibility for vocational 
rehabilitation services does not entitle the individual to 
priority for services over other individuals with significant 
disabilities in a State operating under an order of selection 
under section 101(a)(5). The committee intends this presumptive 
eligibility be used solely to increase efficiency and 
facilitate the provision of timely work-related services for 
individuals who already have been determined to have a 
significant disability that affects their ability to work.
    For purposes of determining eligibility of an individual 
for vocational rehabilitation services under title I of the Act 
and developing the IREP, the State vocational rehabilitation 
agency shall use information that is existing and current, 
including information available from other programs and 
providers; particularly information used by education officials 
and the Social Security Administration, and provided by the 
individual and the individual's family.
    Determinations made by officials of other agencies, 
particularly education officials, regarding whether an 
individual satisfies one or more factors relating to whether an 
individual has a disability as defined in section 7(20)(A) or 
has a significant disability as defined in section 7(21)(A), 
shall be used in assisting the designated State unit in making 
such determinations.
    The committee intends these changes to again underscore its 
desire to make the vocational rehabilitation system more 
accessible and user-friendly. Furthermore, the changes will 
allow State agencies to save time and money in making 
eligibility determinations.
    If an individual who applies for services under this title 
is determined ineligible for services, or if an eligible 
individual receiving services under an IREP is determined to be 
no longer eligible for services, the ineligibility 
determination must only be made after providing an opportunity 
for full consultation with the individual or the individual's 
representative. The individual or the individual's 
representative shall be informed in writing (supplemented as 
necessary by other appropriate modes of communication 
consistent with the informed choice of the individual) of the 
ineligibility determination, including the reasons for the 
determination and a description of the means by which the 
individual may seek a remedy for any dissatisfaction with the 
determination. The individual must be provided with a 
description of services available from the Client Assistance 
Program under section 112 of the Act and information on how to 
contact that program. Any ineligibility determination based on 
a finding that the individual is incapable of benefiting in 
terms of an employment outcome shall be reviewed within 12 
months, and annually thereafter, if such a review is requested 
by the individual or, if appropriate, by the individual's 
representative.
    The designated State unit must determine whether an 
individual is eligible for vocational rehabilitation services 
under this title within a reasonable period of time, not to 
exceed 60 days, after the individual has submitted an 
application for the services unless exceptional and unforeseen 
circumstances beyond the control of the designated State unit 
preclude making an eligibility determination within 60 days and 
the designated State unit and the individual agree to a 
specific extension of time or the designated State unit is 
exploring an individual's abilities and capacities to perform 
in work situations.
    S. 1579 specifies that if an individual is determined 
eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, the designated 
State unit shall complete the assessment of vocational 
rehabilitation needs, as appropriate, and shall provide the 
individual or the individual's representative, in writing and 
in an appropriate mode of communication, with information on 
the individual's options for developing an IREP, including: (a) 
information on the availability of assistance, to the extent 
determined to be appropriate by the eligible individual, from a 
qualified vocational rehabilitation counselor in developing all 
or part of the IREP, and the availability of technical 
assistance in developing all or part of the IREP; (b) a 
description of the full range of components included in an 
IREP; (c) as appropriate, an explanation of agency guidelines 
and criteria associated with financial commitments concerning 
an IREP; (d) additional required information or information the 
designated State unit determines to be necessary; (e) 
information on the availability of assistance in completing 
designated State agency forms; and (f) a description of the 
rights and remedies available to the individual including, if 
appropriate, legal recourse and a description of the 
availability of a Client Assistance Program.
    S. 1579 specifies mandatory procedures for an IREP: (a) a 
written document prepared on forms provided by the designated 
State unit; (b) developed and implemented in a manner that 
affords eligible individuals the opportunity to exercise 
informed choice in selecting an employment outcome, specific 
vocational rehabilitation and job training services, the entity 
to provide these services, and the methods used to procure the 
services; (c) agreed to, and signed by, the individual or the 
individual's representative and approved and signed by a 
qualified vocational rehabilitation counselor; (d) reviewed at 
least annually by a qualified vocational rehabilitation 
counselor; and the eligible individual or, as appropriate, the 
individual's representative; and amended, as necessary.
    The committee also specifies mandatory components that, 
regardless of the approach selected by an eligible individual 
to develop an IREP, must be contained in an IREP. They are: (a) 
a description of the individual's specific employment outcome 
and, to the maximum extent appropriate, results in employment 
in an integrated setting; (b) a description of the specific 
vocational rehabilitation services needed to achieve the 
employment outcome; (c) a description of the entity chosen to 
provide the vocational rehabilitation services, and description 
of the methods used to procure the services; (d) a description 
of the criteria to be used to evaluate progress toward 
achievement of the individual's employment outcome; (e) the 
terms and conditions of the IREP, including, as appropriate, 
information describing the responsibilities of the designated 
State unit, the individual's responsibilities of the eligible 
individual in paying for the costs of the plan, the 
individual's responsibility with regard to applying for and 
securing comparable benefits as described in section 101(a)(8), 
and the responsibilities of other entities as the result of 
arrangements made pursuant to comparable services or benefits 
requirements; (f) for an individual for whom a supported 
employment setting has been determined appropriate, information 
identifying the extended services needed by the eligible 
individual; and the source of extended services or, to the 
extent that the source of the extended services cannot be 
identified, a description of the basis for concluding that 
there is a reasonable expectation that such source will become 
available; and (g) a statement of projected need for post-
employment services.
    Many vocational rehabilitation consumers have expressed the 
need for greater choice and involvement in developing their 
service plans. Section 102(b) affords eligible individuals the 
ability to determine the extent to which the State vocational 
rehabilitation agency shall assist in the development of the 
individual's individualized rehabilitation employment plan. In 
addition, the State vocational rehabilitation agencies must 
provide their consumers with information on the availability of 
technical assistance in developing all or part of their plans. 
Although the plan's effect is conditioned on the approval and 
signature of both the eligible individual and a qualified State 
vocational rehabilitation counselor, the committee intends 
these requirements to empower individuals with disabilities to 
have greater control in developing a plan to address their 
unique needs. The committee intends that, in many instances, 
counselors will serve more as facilitators of plan development 
than they did in the past.

                         Due Process Procedures

    S. 1579 requires that each State establish procedures for 
mediation. The bill also requires State vocational 
rehabilitation agencies to establish administrative review 
procedures.
    These procedures shall provide that an applicant or an 
eligible individual or, as appropriate, the applicant's 
representative or individual's representative must be notified 
of the right to an review by an impartial hearing officer; the 
right to mediation; the availability of assistance from the 
Client Assistance Program. These notifications shall be 
provided in writing at the time an individual applies for 
vocational rehabilitation services; at the time the 
individualized rehabilitation employment plan for the 
individual is developed; and upon reduction, suspension, or 
cessation of vocational rehabilitation services for the 
individual.
    If an individual (applicant or eligible individual) elects 
either mediation or impartial hearing to resolve his or her 
dispute with a State vocational rehabilitation agency, the 
individual is entitled to submit evidence and information to 
support his or her position and to be represented.
    The committee believes that mediation is an equitable, 
economical, and speedy way of resolving disputes. By adding 
mediation to the law, the committee intends to promote 
mediation as an effective means to resolve disputes. The 
committee requires mediation to be voluntary on the part of the 
parties, not be used to deny or delay the right of an 
individual's right to a hearing, or deny any other right 
afforded under title I; and be conducted by a qualified and 
impartial mediator trained in effective mediation techniques.
    The State must maintain a list of individuals who are 
qualified mediators, knowledgeable in laws (including 
regulations) relating to the provision of vocational 
rehabilitation services. The State bears the cost of the 
mediation process. Each session in the mediation process shall 
be scheduled in a timely manner and shall be held in a location 
that is convenient to the parties to the dispute. An agreement 
reached by the parties to the dispute in the mediation process 
shall be set forth in a written mediation agreement. 
Discussions that occur during the mediation process shall be 
confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent 
due process hearing or civil proceeding. The parties to the 
mediation process may be required to sign a confidentiality 
pledge prior to the commencement of such process. Parties are 
not precluded from informally resolving the dispute prior to 
initiating any proceedings, as long as the informal process is 
not used to deny or delay the individual's right to a hearing 
or to deny any other right afforded under title I of the Act.
    The committee intends to reshape the formal dispute 
resolution process to ensure due process. These amendments 
require hearings to be conducted by impartial hearing officer 
who issues a decision based on the provisions of the approved 
State plan, the Act (including regulations implementing the 
Act), and State regulations and policies that are consistent 
with the Federal requirements specified in title I. The officer 
provides the decision in writing to both parties in a dispute.
    A State may establish procedures to enable a party to seek 
an impartial review of hearing officer's decision by a State 
official outside of the vocational rehabilitation agency. The 
committee feels that the ability of the State Director of 
Vocational Rehabilitation to review and over turn a hearing 
officer's decision, as in current law, represents a conflict of 
interest. Therefore, S. 1579 ensures that any review of an 
impartial hearing officer's decision will be conducted by a 
non-interested party. The committee does not require States to 
establish a process for such reviews. If a State elects not to 
have an outside administrative review process, all appeals of 
hearing officers' decisions will simply be referred to the 
appropriate civil court.
    Furthermore, the committee intends that unless the 
individual with a disability so requests it, pending a decision 
by a mediator, hearing officer, or reviewing officer, the 
designated State unit shall not suspend, reduce, or terminate 
any services being provided to the individual, including 
evaluation, vocational assessment, and plan development 
services. The State vocational rehabilitation agency may only 
suspend services if they were obtained through 
misrepresentation, fraud, collusion, or criminal conduct on the 
part of the individual, or the individual's representative.

                            Informed Choice

    The committee intends that all eligible individuals be able 
to exercise informed choice throughout the vocational 
rehabilitation process. To assure that vocational 
rehabilitation consumers have greater consumer choice, the 
committee requires State vocational rehabilitation agencies to: 
(a) inform each such applicant and eligible individual 
(including students with disabilities who are making the 
transition from educational agency programs to vocational 
rehabilitation programs), through appropriate modes of 
communication, about opportunities to exercise informed choice 
including the availability of support services for individuals 
with cognitive or other disabilities who require assistance in 
exercising informed choice, throughout the vocational 
rehabilitation process; (b) assist applicants and eligible 
individuals in exercising informed choice in decisions related 
to the provision of assessment services under title I of the 
Act; (c) to develop and implement flexible procurement policies 
and methods that facilitate the provision of services, and that 
afford eligible individuals meaningful choices among the 
methods used to procure services; (d) to provide or assist 
eligible individuals in acquiring information that enables them 
to exercise informed choice in selecting an employment outcome, 
the specific vocational rehabilitation services needed to 
achieve the employment outcome, the entity that will provide 
the services, the employment setting and the settings in which 
the services will be provided, and the methods available for 
procuring the services; and (e) ensure that the availability 
and scope of informed choice provided under this section is 
consistent with the obligations of the designated State 
vocational rehabilitation agency.

                   Vocational Rehabilitation Services

    S. 1579 restates the provisions of the Act pertaining to 
``Vocational Rehabilitation Services'' with amendments that add 
references to the individualized rehabilitation employment plan 
(IREP), employment outcome, informed choice, and training in 
the use of transportation services and systems; as well as 
clarifications.
    In adding transportation training to the scope of 
vocational rehabilitation services, the committee recognizes 
the importance of the availability of transportation in an 
individual's achieving an employment outcome. To that end, the 
committee strongly urges the Secretary of Education and other 
appropriate Secretaries, including the Secretary of the 
Department of Transportation, through existing coordinating 
bodies or other mechanisms, to develop guidelines for State and 
local planning to achieve specific transportation coordination 
objectives, including but not limited to: identification of the 
transportation needs of individuals with disability served by 
or through vocational rehabilitation agencies and the 
appropriate mix of services to meet those needs; the expanded 
use of public transit services by such individuals; and cost-
sharing arrangements among appropriate entities in establishing 
improved transportation services available to such individuals.
    The committee also addresses interpreters. In determining 
whether interpreters are sufficiently qualified, States may 
employ the standard specified in the regulations implementing 
titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 
in which ``qualified interpreter'' is defined as ``an 
interpreter who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, 
and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any 
necessary specialized vocabulary.''
    The committee bill, in section 103(b) of the Act, specifies 
that vocational rehabilitation services provided for the 
benefit of groups of individuals with disabilities may also 
include the following: (a) In the case of any type of small 
business operated by individuals with significant disabilities 
the operation of which can be improved by management services 
and supervision provided by the designated State agency, the 
provision of such services and supervision, along or together 
with the acquisition by the designated State agency of vending 
facilities or other equipment and initial stocks and supplies. 
(b) The establishment, development, or improvement of community 
rehabilitation programs, that promise to contribute 
substantially to the rehabilitation of a group of individuals 
but that are not related directly to the individualized 
rehabilitation employment plan of any 1 individual with a 
disability. Such programs shall be used to provide services 
that promote integration and competitive employment. (c) The 
use of telecommunications systems (including telephone, 
television, satellite, radio, and other similar systems) that 
have the potential for substantially improving delivery methods 
of activities described in this section and developing 
appropriate programming to meet the particular needs of 
individuals with disabilities. (d) Special services to provide 
nonvisual access to information for individuals who are blind, 
including the use of telecommunications, Braille, sound 
recordings, or other appropriate media; captioned television, 
films, or video cassettes for individuals who are deaf or hard 
of hearing; tactile materials for individuals who are deaf-
blind; and other special services that provide information 
through tactile, vibratory, auditory, and visual media. (e) 
Technical assistance and support services to businesses that 
are not subject to title I of the Americans with Disabilities 
Act of 1990 and that are seeking to employ individuals with 
disabilities. (f) Consultative and technical assistance 
services to assist educational agencies in planning for the 
transition of students with disabilities from school to post-
school activities, including employment. Regarding special 
services providing nonvisual access to information, the 
committee intends that these services be available to anyone 
who cannot easily retrieve information from computer terminals. 
These services should include access to information about job 
opportunities via the telephone.

                      State Rehabilitation Council

    The committee makes selected amendments to provisions 
affecting State Rehabilitation Councils. Regarding Council 
membership the committee: (a) adds at least one representative 
from the statewide workforce investment partnership; and, if 
funded in the State, a representative from a project funded 
under section 121; and one representative of the State 
educational agency responsible for the education of students 
with disabilities under part B of the Individuals with 
Disabilities Education Act; (b) allows a Council to have fewer 
than 15 members if it was in existence prior to the 1992 
amendments to the Act; (c) clarifies that the Director of the 
designated State unit is a nonvoting member of the Council; (d) 
adds a requirement that the appointing authority, to the 
greatest extent practicable, consider the extent to which 
minority populations are represented on the Council; (e) allows 
the Governor to delegate to the Council the authority to fill 
vacancies on the Council; and (f) removes the time limit on 
appointments for certain the Council members.
    In adding clarifications concerning Council membership, the 
committee amendments specify that the representative of the 
Client Assistance Program, and if the State has one, the 
representative from the American Indian Project funded under 
part C, are excepted from the prohibition against Council 
members serving more than two consecutive terms. This 
clarification was made in recognition of limited size of staff 
associated with many of such programs and projects and the 
value of continuity in representation given the unique 
functions of these programs and projects.
    The committee was urged to assign the same exception status 
to the director of a State's parent information and training 
center. The committee did not do so. Such centers have 
employees, sponsors, parents assisted by the center, and 
volunteers, most of whom are parents or strong advocates for 
children with disabilities. By requiring parent center 
representation to rotate on the State Rehabilitation Council, 
as is required of most Council members, the committee believes 
that such rotation will bring vitality and diversity to the 
council with regard to the needs of children with disabilities 
who some day may need vocational rehabilitation services.
    Regarding Council functions, the committee amends current 
law by: (a) clarifying that the Council analyze and advise the 
designated State unit regarding its performance helping 
individuals with disabilities in achieving employment outcomes; 
(b) specifying that, in partnership with the designated State 
unit, the Council must develop and review State goals and 
priorities, evaluate the effectiveness of the vocational 
rehabilitation program, and submit reports of progress to the 
Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Service Administration; (c) 
clarifying that the Council advises the designated State agency 
and the designated State unit regarding authorized activities, 
and assists in the preparation of the State plan and amendments 
to the plan, applications, reports, needs assessments, and 
evaluations; (d) simplifying the scope of the Council's 
analysis of the State vocational rehabilitation program's 
effectiveness and consumer satisfaction with the State 
vocational rehabilitation program, and requiring the Council 
address individuals' employment outcomes and the availability 
of health and other employment benefits in connection with such 
employment outcomes; and (e) clarifying the Council's functions 
related to coordination with other entities. The committee 
intends these amendments to further its goal of creating a 
consumer-oriented and consumer-driven vocational rehabilitation 
system.

            Evaluation Standards and Performance Indicators

    S. 1579 amends the Act pertaining to ``Evaluation Standards 
and Performance Indicators'' by requiring the Commissioner to: 
(a) (no later than September 30, 1998) establish and publish 
evaluation standards and performance indicators; (b) review 
and, if necessary, revise the evaluation standards and 
performance indicators every 3 years (Any revisions of the 
standards and indicators shall be developed with input from 
State vocational rehabilitation agencies, related professional 
and consumer organizations, recipients of vocational 
rehabilitation services, and other interested parties. Any 
revisions of the standards and indicators shall be subject to 
the publication, review, and comment.); (c) effective July 1, 
1999, to the maximum extent practicable, make the standards and 
indicators consistent with the core indicators of performance 
established under WIPA; and (d) beginning in fiscal year 1999, 
include in each annual report to Congress, an analysis of 
program performance, including relative State performance, 
based on the standards and indicators.

                        Part B--State Allotments

    The committee adjusts the reservation of funds for part C 
projects concerning vocational rehabilitation services to 
American Indians, allowing it to range from \3/4\ of 1 percent 
to 1.5 percent of the total amount of all States' allotments in 
fiscal year 1998, and to range from one percent to 1.5 percent 
of the total amount of all States' allotments in fiscal years 
1999 through 2004. The committee intends this change to send a 
clear signal that, in order to more effectively provide funding 
for vocational rehabilitation services to American Indians with 
disabilities, funding should increase and be more predictable.

                           Payment to States

    The committee eliminates the requirement to develop a 
strategic plan and prohibits using title I funds for 
construction. These limited changes to section 111 streamline 
administration and focus the use dollars on vocational 
rehabilitation services.

                       Client Assistance Program

    S. 1579 amends the Client Assistance Program (CAP) by: (a) 
requiring that if, after the date of enactment of the 
Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, a designated State 
agency undergoes any change in its organizational structure 
that results in the creation of 1 or more new State agencies or 
results in the merger of the designated State agency with 1 or 
more other State agencies or departments and one of the 
agencies within the designated State agency was conducting a 
client assistance program before the change, the Governor shall 
redesignate an agency independent of the designated State 
agency to adminster the CAP; (b) allowing increases in minimum 
allotments (not to exceed the percentage increase from one 
fiscal year to the next) as appropriations increase; and (c) 
requiring that each CAP have policies and procedures to assure 
that, to the maximum extent possible, alternative means of 
dispute resolution are available at the discretion of an 
applicant or client prior to resorting to litigation to resolve 
a dispute; and (d) defining the term ``alternative means of 
dispute resolution to mean any procedure, including good faith 
negotiation, conciliation, facilitation, mediation, fact 
finding, and arbitration, and any combination of procedures, 
that is used in lieu of litigation in a court or formal 
adjudication in an administrative forum, to resolve a dispute.

                    Innovation and Expansion Grants

    Part C in current law was repealed. The committee intends 
this deletion to help streamline the administration of the 
vocational rehabilitation program.

       Part C--American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services

    The committee amends this part (part D in current law) by 
requiring grants not exceed 60 months in duration. The addition 
gives the Rehabilitation Services Administration flexibility in 
making decisions about the duration of individual grants, but 
also allows for long-term grants that will contribute to the 
stability and effectiveness of services.

     Part D--Vocational Rehabilitation Services Client Information 
        (relettered as part D rather than part E in current law)

    The committee updates current law relating to ``data 
sharing'' by adding provisions that specify that: (a) the 
Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Health and Human 
Services enter into a memorandum of understanding for the 
purposes of exchanging data; (b) the Secretary of Labor 
provides the Commissioner with labor market information that 
facilitates evaluation of the program carried out under part B 
of the Act, and allows the Commissioner to compare the progress 
of individuals with disabilities who are assisted under the 
program in securing, retaining, regaining, and advancing in 
employment with the progress made by individuals who are 
assisted under title III of WIPA; (c) for purposes of the 
exchange pertaining to the Secretaries of Education and Health 
and Human Services, the data pertaining to the Social Security 
Administration's Summary Earnings and Records and Master 
Beneficiary Records are not considered return information (as 
defined in section 6103(b)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 
1986); and (d) the confidentiality of all client information 
shall be maintained by the Rehabilitation Services 
Administration and the Social Security Administration.

                    Title II--Research and Training

    The committee adds to the purposes of this title and 
intends to: require a comprehensive and coordinated approach to 
research, demonstration projects, training, and to ensure that 
it comports with the 5-year plan developed under section 
202(h); amends the transfer of rehabilitation technology to 
individuals with disabilities through research and 
demonstration projects strengthens dissemination requirements; 
and adds an obligation to identify effective strategies that 
enhance opportunities to engage in employment, employment 
involving telecommuting, and self-employment.
    It is the committee's intent that information and findings 
from work funded by the Institute be effectively disseminated 
so that information is accessible to the public, especially 
individual researchers, educators, rehabilitation 
practitioners, individuals with disabilities, and their 
families. The committee recommends that this information be 
provided and made readily available in a manner appropriate for 
audiences with diverse communication needs.
    The committee understands that the broad mission of the 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
(the Institute) creates challenges and stresses for the 
Institute. With the scope of its mission being so broad, it has 
raised expectations among diverse audiences about what it 
should or could fund. With the skewed latitude given the 
Director of the Institute, funding decisions related to minor 
competitions are wide open, whereas funding related to major 
competitions is often predisposed toward current awardee. The 
committee intends to bring more fairness, balance, cohesion, 
coherence, public scrutiny, and public and Congressional 
acceptance of the Institute's funding priorities through the 
amendments associated with section 202(h). The other amendments 
to section 202 of the Act update and clarify its authority so 
that the Institute will be more easily able to address 
important, emerging issues.
    The committee (a) clarifies that the Institute is 
authorized to fund training projects; (b) amends the education 
program of the Institute to include the dissemination of 
engineering information associated with assistive technology 
devices; (c) in conducting conferences, seminars, and 
workshops, includes information about advances in the selection 
and use of assistive technology devices and assistive 
technology services; and (d) adds that the Institute conduct 
research to examine the relationship between the provision of 
specific services and successful, sustained employment 
outcomes, including employment outcomes involving self-
employment.

   Consumer-Driven Information Needs Related to Assistive Technology

    S. 1579 adds a new paragraph (c) to section 202 of the Act, 
mandating that the Institute provide for consumer-driven 
information needs related to assistive technology and assistive 
technology services through funding for the development and 
dissemination of models that include: (a) convening groups of 
individuals with disabilities, family members and advocates of 
such individuals, commercial producers of assistive technology, 
and entities funded by the Institute to develop, assess, and 
disseminate knowledge about information needs related to 
assistive technology; (b) identifying the types of information 
regarding assistive technology devices and assistive technology 
services that individuals with disabilities find especially 
useful; (c) evaluating current models, and developing new 
models, for transmitting information to consumers and to 
commercial producers of assistive technology, and (d) 
disseminating through 1 or more entities funded by the 
Institute, the models and information to consumers described 
above and commercial producers of assistive technology.
    The committee recognizes that individuals with disabilities 
lack access to uniform, useful information about assistive 
technology devices and services that permit individuals to make 
comparisons and informed decisions about devices and services. 
The committee strongly urges the Institute to assume a 
leadership role in promoting the identification, use, and 
acceptance of uniform information about common devices and 
services. The committee is not suggesting that the Institute 
contemplate or set standards for devices and services, but 
working with individuals with disabilities who use and need 
devices and services, identify categories of information that 
should be provided on common devices and services. For example, 
there is certain vital information worth knowing about battery 
packs for electric wheelchairs, such as, cost, time between 
charges, weight, and models of chair for which they can be 
used.

                      Standing Peer Review Panels

    The committee amends the portions of the Act pertaining to 
the review of applications for funding that specify: (a) The 
Director shall provide for the review by using, to the maximum 
extent possible, appropriate peer review panels established 
within the Institute. The panels shall be standing panels if 
the grant period or the duration of the program involved is not 
more than 3 years. The panels shall be composed of individuals 
who are not Federal employees, who are scientists or other 
experts in the rehabilitation field, including knowledgeable 
individuals with disabilities, and who are competent to review 
applications for the financial assistance. (b) The Director 
shall solicit nominations for such panels from the public and 
shall publish the names of the individuals selected. 
Individuals comprising each panel shall be selected from a pool 
of qualified individuals to facilitate knowledgeable, cost-
effective review. (c) And in providing for such scientific peer 
review, the Secretary shall provide for training, as necessary 
and appropriate, to facilitate the effective participation of 
those individuals selected to participate in such review.

                 Five-Year Plan for Funding Priorities

    The committee amends section 202 of the Act by tying all 
funding to a five-year plan. The Director is required to: (a) 
by October 1, 1998 and every fifth October 1 thereafter, 
prepare and publish in the Federal Register a draft of a 5-year 
plan that outlines priorities for rehabilitation research, 
demonstration projects, training, and related activities, and 
explains the basis for such priorities; (b) by June 1, 1999, 
and every fifth June 1 thereafter, after considering public 
comments, submit the plan in final form to the appropriate 
committees of Congress; (c) at appropriate intervals, prepare 
and submit revisions in the plan to the appropriate committees 
of Congress; and (d) annually prepare and submit progress 
reports on the plan to the appropriate committees of Congress.

                         New Grant Initiatives

    The committee amends section 204 of the Act by authorizing 
research grants related to quality assurance in the area of 
rehabilitation technology. Activities to be carried out under 
this research program may include: (a) the development of 
methodologies to evaluate rehabilitation technology products 
and services and the dissemination of the methodologies to 
consumers and other interested parties; (b) identification of 
models for service provider training and evaluation and 
certification of the effectiveness of the models; (c) 
identification and dissemination of outcome measurement models 
for the assessment of rehabilitation technology products and 
services; and (d) development and testing of research-based 
tools to enhance consumer decision making about rehabilitation 
technology products and services.
    The committee requires the Director to develop the quality 
assurance research program after consultation with 
representatives of all types of organizations interested in 
rehabilitation technology quality assurance. Individuals with 
disabilities who use assistive technology devices and services 
indicate that they rely a great deal on other users as sources 
of information on the dependability, durability, safety, and 
value of devices and services. The committee believes strongly 
that the Institute has a special imperative to take quality 
assurance from where it is now--``word of mouth''--to a 
credible, accessible set of tools, strategies, and guidelines 
that allows individuals with disabilities and their families to 
make intelligent choices about assistive technology devices and 
services. Without such a commitment from the Institute, the 
committee believes public and private dollars will be misspent 
and opportunities to be more independent and productive will be 
lost.
    The committee also authorizes research grants that explore 
the use and effectiveness of specific alternative or 
complementary medical practices for individuals with 
disabilities. Such grants may include activities designed to: 
(a) determine the use of specific alternative or complementary 
medical practices among individuals with disabilities and the 
perceived effectiveness of the practices; (b) determine the 
specific information sources, decision making methods, and 
methods of payment used by individuals with disabilities who 
access alternative or complementary medical services; (c) 
develop criteria to screen and assess the validity of research 
studies of such practices for individuals with disabilities; 
and (d) determine the effectiveness of specific alternative or 
complementary medical practices that show promise for promoting 
increased functioning, prevention of secondary disabilities, or 
other positive outcomes for individuals with certain types of 
disabilities, by conducting controlled research studies.
    The committee believes that the popularity and potential of 
alternative and complementary medical practices suggest that 
these forms of alternative therapies should be explored as they 
apply to people with disabilities. Thirty-four percent of 
Americans have used ``nonconventional'' medical therapies, 
making 425 million visits to alternative practitioners. This 
number exceeds those made to primary care physicians. Of a 
total $13.7 billion spent for unconventional treatments, $10.3 
billion was paid for by the individual seeking treatment.
    The Office of Alternative Medicine at the National 
Institutes of Health was established to explore the potential 
of unconventional medical practices, however, disability-
specific research is needed to determine the use of alternative 
and complementary practices by people with disabilities and to 
determine the effectiveness of different practices on the 
functioning of people with specific types of disabilities. 
Additionally, the access of alternative approaches to people 
with disabilities needs to be explored in terms of informed 
choice and ability to access such alternatives. By clarifying 
the Institute's authority in this area, the committee believes 
that important information about the effectiveness of 
alternative therapies on physical functioning, stamina, stress 
and pain reduction, as well as in other areas of inquiry, will 
become more readily available to individuals with disabilities, 
expanding their choices and contributing to their levels of 
independence.

     Title III--Professional Development and Special Projects and 
                             Demonstrations

    The bill amends title III of the Act by streamlining, 
clarifying, and updating discretionary grant activities. The 
committee took into account the importance and potential of the 
full range of authority in current law, initiatives currently 
authorized in title VIII, which are repealed by this bill, and 
the need for the Department of Education to conduct 
competitions and make awards authorized under this title in a 
timely manner.
    The committee amends the purposes of this title by 
requiring grants and contracts to: (a) provide academic 
training to ensure that skilled personnel to provide services 
to individuals with disabilities through vocational, medical, 
social, and psychological rehabilitation programs (including 
supported employment programs), through independent living 
services programs, and through Client Assistance Programs; and 
provide training to maintain and upgrade basic skills and 
knowledge of personnel employed to provide state-of-the-art 
service delivery and rehabilitation technology services; (b) 
conduct special projects and demonstrations that expand and 
improve the provision of rehabilitation services, or that 
otherwise further the purposes of this Act, including related 
research and evaluation; (c) provide vocational rehabilitation 
services to individuals with disabilities who are migrant or 
seasonal farm workers; (d) initiate recreational programs to 
provide activities and related experiences for individuals with 
disabilities to aid in employment, mobility, socialization, 
independence, and community integration; and (e) provide 
training and information to individuals with disabilities and 
other individuals to develop the skills necessary for 
individuals with disabilities to gain access to the 
rehabilitation system and workforce investment system and to 
become active decision makers in the rehabilitation process.
    The committee intends amendments to the training provisions 
in the Act to streamline the administration of this 
discretionary program, making decisions and notifications about 
funding more timely. The committee specifies that the 
Commissioner shall make grants to, and enter into contracts 
with, States and public or nonprofit agencies and organizations 
(including institutions of higher education) to pay part of the 
cost of projects to provide training, traineeships, and related 
activities, including the provision of technical assistance, 
designed to increase the numbers of, and upgrading the skills 
of, qualified personnel (especially rehabilitation counselors) 
who are trained to provide vocational, medical, social, and 
psychological rehabilitation services.
    The committee intends that grants and contracts may be 
expended for scholarships and may include necessary stipends 
and allowances.
    One of the most important ways State workforce systems 
funded under WIPA and state vocational rehabilitation agencies 
will be to work together effectively will be through 
interagency coordination and training. Regarding training for 
statewide workforce systems personnel, the committee intends 
the Commissioner to make grants to and enter into contracts 
with States and public or nonprofit agencies and organizations, 
including institutions of higher education, to furnish training 
to personnel providing services to individuals with 
disabilities under WIPA.
    Personnel may be trained: (a) in evaluative skills to 
determine whether an individual with a disability may be served 
by the State vocational rehabilitation program or another 
component of the statewide workforce investment system or (b) 
to assist individuals with disabilities seeking assistance 
through one-stop customer service centers established under 
WIPA. Such training may be jointly funded with the Department 
of Labor, using funds made available under title III of WIPA.
    The committee intends for grants and contracts for academic 
degrees and academic certificate granting training projects to 
provide more qualified rehabilitation counselors and service 
providers. The committee amendments facilitates this end, while 
streamlining the administration of the training program.
    The committee bill authorizes funding for training grants 
as such sums as necessary from fiscal years 1998 through 2004.

                         Special Demonstrations

    The committee amends the authority to fund special 
demonstrations. The committee intends that the Commissioner may 
award grants or contracts to eligible entities to pay all or 
part of the cost of programs that expand and improve the 
provision of rehabilitation and other services authorized under 
this Act or that further the purposes of the Act. The committee 
specifies that: to be eligible to receive a grant or contract 
under section 303(a), an entity must be a State vocational 
rehabilitation agency, community rehabilitation program, Indian 
tribe or tribal organization, other public or nonprofit agency 
or a for profit organization.
    Special demonstrations that may be funded are: (a) special 
projects and demonstrations of service delivery; (b) model 
demonstration projects; (c) technical assistance projects; (d) 
systems change projects; (e) special studies and evaluations; 
and (f) dissemination and utilization activities.
    In announcing priorities for competitions for grants and 
contracts, the committee specifies that the Commissioner shall 
give priority consideration to: (a) projects that provide 
training, information, and technical assistance that will 
enable individuals with disabilities, to participate more 
effectively in meeting the vocational, independent living, and 
rehabilitation needs of the individuals with disabilities; (b) 
special projects and demonstration programs of service delivery 
for adults who are either low-functioning and deaf or low-
functioning and hard of hearing; (c) innovative methods of 
promoting consumer choice in the rehabilitation process; (d) 
supported employment, including community-based supported 
employment programs to meet the needs of individuals with a 
most significant disability or to provide technical assistance 
to States and community organizations to improve and expand the 
provision of supported employment services; and (e) model 
transitional planning services for youths with disabilities.
    Eligible applicants for grants and contracts include: (a) 
Parent Training and Information Centers funded under the 
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; (b) organizations 
that meet the definition of a parent organization in section 
682 of IDEA; and (c) private nonprofit organizations assisting 
parent training and information centers. Grant and contract 
recipients shall, to the extent practicable, coordinate 
training and information activities with Centers for 
Independent Living.
    With regard to additional competitions, the committee 
intends that, in announcing competitions for grants and 
contracts under this section, the Commissioner may require that 
applicants address 1 or more of the following: age ranges; 
types of disabilities; types of services; models of service 
delivery; stage of the rehabilitation process; the needs of 
underserved populations; unserved and underserved areas; 
individuals with significant disabilities; low-incidence 
disability populations; individuals residing in Federally 
designated empowerment zones and enterprise communities; 
expansion of employment opportunities for individuals with 
disabilities; projects to promote meaningful access of 
individual with disabilities to employment related services 
under the WIPA and under other Federal laws; innovative methods 
of promoting the achievement of high-quality employment 
outcomes; the demonstration of the effectiveness of early 
intervention activities in improving employment outcomes; and 
alternative methods of providing affordable transportation 
services to individuals with disabilities who are employed, 
seeking employment, or receiving vocational rehabilitation 
services from public or private organizations and who reside in 
geographic areas in which public transportation or paratransit 
service is not available.
    With regard to continuation awards, the committee intends 
that the Commissioner may use funds for continuation awards for 
projects that were funded under sections 12 and 311 (as such 
sections were in effect on the day prior to the date of the 
enactment of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998).
    Section 306 of the Act as amended by this bill specifies 
that the Commissioner may require that recipients of grants 
under title III of the Act as amended by this bill submit 
information, including data, as determined by the Commissioner 
to be necessary to measure project outcomes and performance, 
including any data needed to comply with the Government 
Performance and Results Act.

             Title IV--National Council on Disability (NCD)

    The committee restates current law, but with amendments 
that: (a) with regard to staffing, in section 403(a)(1) of the 
Act, add to the authority of the Chairperson of the NCD by 
allowing the Chairperson to remove an executive director 
without regard to laws pertaining to Federal employment and in 
section 403(a)(2) of the Act, remove the cap on the number of 
staff NCD may employee; (b) with regard to money or property, 
in section 403(b)(2)(B) of the Act, add that NCD may solicit 
money or property; and (c) with regard to investment of NCD 
assets, in section 403(d) of the Act, add that the Secretary of 
the Treasury is to invest assets not required for operation of 
NCD.

                      Title V--Rights and Advocacy

    Section 508 requires each Federal agency to procure, 
maintain, and use electronic and information technology that 
allows individuals with disabilities the same access to 
information technology as individuals without disabilities. The 
Access Board is required to issue regulations establishing the 
performance criteria necessary to implement the requirements of 
this section. However, the committee intends that agency 
compliance with section 508 begin upon enactment of the 
Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. In order to ensure 
immediate agency compliance with section 508, the committee 
directs the Federal Acquisition Regulations Council, the Office 
of Management and Budget, and other Federal agencies, upon 
enactment of this bill, to modify procurement policies and 
directives, as appropriate, to reflect the requirements of 
section 508. The committee directs the Executive Branch to 
disseminate information to all Federal employees and customers 
regarding the requirements in section 508, including the right 
for an individual to file a complaint against an agency. The 
committee intends that this information be posted on each 
agency's website.
    Agencies must assess their compliance with section 508 and 
report their findings to the Access Board. The committee 
intends for the Access Board to provide guidance to assist 
agencies in conducting their assessments. The committee 
believes that the ``Requirements for Accessible Software'' 
developed by the Department of Education should be used by the 
Access Board as one standard against which agencies could 
measure their performance in the area of software.

                        Protection and Advocacy

    The committee amends section 509 to: (a) Require, for any 
fiscal year in which the amount appropriated to carry out 
section 509 equals or exceeds $10,500,000, the Commissioner to 
reserve and use a portion of the allotment to make a grant to 
the eligible system serving the American Indian consortium. The 
grant must not be less than $50,000 for the fiscal year. (b) 
Provide minimum allotments to systems under subsection (c)(5), 
under subsection (c)(3)(B), to systems within States under 
subsection (c)(4)(B). The allotments to the remaining systems 
within States must be proportionally reduced, with necessary 
adjustments to prevent the allotment of any remaining system 
being reduced to less than the minimum allotment.
    The committee authorizes funding for section 509 at such 
sums as may be necessary from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal 
year 2004.

  Title VI--Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities

 Part A--Projects in Telecommuting and Self-Employment for Individuals 
                           with Disabilities.

    The committee, believing that the law needs to encourage 
independence and autonomy for individuals with disabilities, 
authorizes funding for two new types of projects: projects in 
telecommuting and self-employment for individuals with 
disabilities.
    The committee believes that it is in the best interest of 
the United States to identify and promote increased employment 
opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Telecommuting 
is one of the most rapidly expanding forms of employment. In 
1990 there were 4,000,000 telecommuters and that number rose to 
11,100,000 in 1997. It is in the best interest of the United 
States to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access 
to telecommuting employment opportunities. It has been 
estimated that 10 percent of individuals with disabilities, who 
are unemployed, could benefit from telecommuting opportunities. 
It is in the interest of employers to recognize that 
individuals with disabilities are excellent candidates for 
telecommuting employment opportunities. Individuals with 
disabilities, especially those living in rural areas, often do 
not have access to accessible transportation, and in such cases 
telecommuting presents an excellent opportunity for the 
employment of such individuals. (e) It is in the best interests 
of economic development agencies, venture capitalists, and 
financial institutions for the Federal Government to 
demonstrate that individuals with disabilities, who wish to 
become or who are self-employed, can meet the criteria for 
assistance, investment of capital, and business that other 
entrepreneurs meet.
    The committee intends to promote opportunities for 
individuals with disabilities to secure, retain, regain, or 
advance in employment involving telecommuting; gain access to 
employment opportunities; and demonstrate their abilities, 
capabilities, interests, and preferences regarding employment 
in positions that are increasingly being offered to individuals 
in the workplace; and promote opportunities for individuals 
with disabilities to engage in self-employment enterprises that 
permit these individuals to achieve significant levels of 
independence, participate in and contribute to the life of 
their communities, and offer employment opportunities to 
others.
    The committee intends that to be eligible for a 
telecommuting grant, contract, or cooperative agreement, an 
entity must either be a Project With Industry, a designated 
State agency, a statewide workforce investment partnership or 
local workforce investment partnership, a public educational 
agency, a training institution (including an institution of 
higher education), a private organization, or a public or 
private employer. A successful applicant must have 3 or more 
years of experience in assisting individuals with disabilities 
in securing, retaining, regaining, or advancing in employment 
and demonstrate the capacity to secure full and part time 
employment involving telecommuting.
    The committee intends to promote and encourage self-
employment for individuals with disabilities. To be eligible to 
receive funding for a self-employment project and entity must 
be a financial institution, an economic development agency, a 
venture capitalist, an entity carrying out a Project With 
Industry, a designated State agency or other public entity, or 
a private organization. These organizations must demonstrate 
the capacity to assist clients to successfully engage in self-
employment enterprises.

                  Part B--Projects with Industry (PWI)

    In an effort to create a more seamless and cooperative 
system PWIs now have access to and use of labor market 
information identified by local workforce partnerships. The 
committee intends for PWIs to be permitted to provide training 
or job placement services and PWIs may now make eligibility 
determinations so long as they comport with both Federal and 
State statutes and guidelines.

Part C--Supported Employment Services for Individuals with Significant 
                              Disabilities

    The committee intends to continue the support for 
individuals with significant disabilities to achieve the 
employment outcome of supported employment. The committee 
requires that, under this part, States must include an 
assurance in their State plans that comprehensive assessments 
(funded under title I) of individuals with significant 
disabilities include consideration of supported employment as 
an appropriate employment outcome.

  Title VII--Independent Living Services and Centers for Independent 
                                 Living

          Chapter 1, Individuals with Significant Disabilities

                       Part A--General Provisions

    The committee adds at least one representative of the 
directors of projects serving American Indians with 
disabilities to State Independent Living Councils. The 
committee intends this addition to give American Indians 
greater representation and influence on a State's Independent 
Living Council
    It is the recommendation of the committee that appointments 
to the Statewide Independent Living Council be made in a timely 
manner by the Governor or the appropriate entity within the 
State responsible for making Statewide Independent Living 
Council appointments so that the Council may adequately and 
effectively perform its duties. The committee recommends that 
appointments should be filled within sixty days of the 
development of the Statewide Independent Living Council.
    It is also the recommendation of the committee that 
vacancies on a Statewide Independent Living Councils be filled 
in a timely manner so that the Council may adequately and 
effectively perform its duties. The committee recommends that 
vacancies should be filled within a sixty day period upon the 
position becoming vacant.

                  Part B--Independent Living Services

    The committee intends to clarify the means by which minimum 
allotments are adjusted for inflation.

                 Part C--Centers for Independent Living

    The committee intends to clarify the means by which minimum 
allotments are adjusted for inflation; specify that the 
Commissioner shall award grants to any eligible agency that has 
been awarded a grant under part C by September 30, 1997 unless 
the Commissioner makes a finding that the agency involved fails 
to meet program and fiscal standards and assurances set forth 
in section 725 of the Act; specify that the Commissioner awards 
grants to any eligible agency that has been awarded a grant 
under part C by September 30, 1997 unless the Commissioner 
makes a finding that the agency involved fails to meet program 
and fiscal standards and assurances set forth in section 725 of 
the Act; specify that Centers operated by State vocational 
rehabilitation agencies that received assistance for fiscal 
year 1993 with respect to a center (as in effect on the day 
before the date of enactment of the Rehabilitation Act 
Amendments of 1998) may continue to receive assistance under 
this part for fiscal year 1994 or a succeeding fiscal year if, 
for such fiscal year if the conditions in section 724(1) and 
(2) of the Act are met; and extend the authorization of 
appropriations for part C, chapter 1 of title VII of the Act 
from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal year 2004 such sums as may 
be necessary.

Miscellaneous Amendments Of The Bill Not Related To The Rehabilitation 
                                  Act

                Helen Keller National Center Act (HKNCA)

    The committee amends section 205(a) of the HKNCA, extending 
the authorization of appropriations for the Act from fiscal 
year 1998 through fiscal year 2004. It also extends the 
authority for the endowment from fiscal year 1998 through 
fiscal year 2004 and adds a new section requiring the 
establishment of a national registry of individuals who are 
deaf-blind with a separate authorization of appropriations for 
the registry that extends from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal 
year 2004.
    The committee believes that a national database on deaf-
blind individuals is essential to understanding the scope and 
nature of the deaf-blind population in America, and to better 
serve that population. Currently, under the Individuals with 
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Federal child count 
includes deaf-blind children under the age of twenty-two. There 
is no register of individuals beyond that age. A cooperative 
agreement for the vocational rehabilitation of individuals who 
are deaf-blind provides the framework for collaborative efforts 
at the Federal,
    State, and local levels for vocational rehabilitation 
services. New reporting codes for deaf-blindness were 
instituted by the Rehabilitation Services Administration 
several years ago. These codes established for the first time 
that deaf-blindness is a distinct disability group requiring 
its own treatment/service modalities. Many deaf-blind 
individuals are served through State offices of mental 
retardation and developmental disabilities, or through nursing 
homes or long-term care facilities.
    One of the great obstacles facing providers of services to 
deaf-blind individuals is that the population is so 
heterogeneous: A deaf-blind person may have a college degree, 
or may be without formal communication skills. Each individual, 
therefore, has special needs, and often accesses entirely 
different service systems. It is impossible to plan services 
for people who are deaf-blind until it is determined who they 
are, where they live, and what they need. The Helen Keller 
National Center is the only comprehensive national service, 
training, and research organization serving deaf-blind 
citizens. It is appropriate that HKNC have the authority to 
establish and maintain a registry of deaf-blind individuals.

      The President's Committee on Employment of Individuals with 
                              Disabilities

    The committee gives the President's Committee on Employment 
of Individuals with Disabilities the authority to solicit money 
and property. [The authorization for the Committee is found in 
section 2(2) of the Joint Resolution entitled ``Joint 
Resolution authorizing an appropriation for the work of the 
President's Committee on National Employ the Physically 
Handicapped Week'', approved July 11, 1949 (36 U.S.C. 
155b(2)).]

                            V. Cost Estimate

                       Congressional Budget Office,
                                             U.S. Congress,
                                 Washington, DC, February 26, 1998.
Hon. James M. Jeffords,
Chairman,
Committee on Labor and Human Resources,
U.S. Senate,
Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1579, the 
Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them.
    The CBO staff contact is Deborah Kalcevic.

            Sincerely,
                                           June E. O'Neill,
                                                          Director.

               CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

S. 1579--Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998
    Summary: S. 1579 would amend the Rehabilitation Act (VRA) 
of 1973 by reauthorizing several existing programs that cost 
over $2.5 billion a year and altering the authorizing language 
for many of these grant programs. The bill would not 
reauthorize other programs that are currently unfunded. 
Although the major programs under the VRA expire in 1999, the 
Deficit Control Act requires that baseline spending projections 
assume extension of any mandatory program with outlays 
exceeding $50 million (if that program was enacted before 
August 5, 1997). Consequently, the extensions of authorizations 
for VRA programs would not have any impact on pay-as-you-go 
budgetary procedures. The relatively modest changes to the VRA, 
which could have pay-as-you-go effects, would have an 
insignificant impact on direct federal spending.
    The bill also would authorize appropriations for new 
programs totaling $10 million for fiscal year 1998 and such 
sums as necessary for 1999 through 2004. Under the General 
Education Provisions Act (GEPA), which provides an automatic 
one-year extension of the authorization for all programs of the 
Department of Education, these authorizations would be extended 
through 2005. In addition, the bill would reauthorize the Helen 
Keller National Center Act, which expires at the end of fiscal 
year 1998. Costs for this program are projected to be about $8 
million a year. Finally, S. 1579 would eliminate authorizations 
for programs funded through Title VIII of the VRA, which 
currently are authorized through 1998. Title VIII programs are 
considered discretionary spending and are currently funded at 
about $2 million a year.
    Authorizations for discretionary appropriations under S. 
1579 would total $114 million for fiscal years 1998-2003, 
assuming adjustments for inflation. If funding for these 
programs is projected at 1998 levels without adjustments for 
inflation, authorizations over the 1998-2003 period would total 
$105 million.
    S. 1579 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 
(UMRA).
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of S. 1579 is shown in the table below.
    The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 
500 (education, training, employment, and social services).
Basis of estimate
            Spending Subject to Appropriation
    For new programs, CBO used the stated authorization amount 
for fiscal year 1998 as the basis for projecting costs for 
those years for which amounts are not specified. We projected 
such spending both with and without adjustments for inflation. 
Similarly, for existing programs with ``such sums'' 
authorizations, we used the 1998


appropriation as the basis for projecting future funding 
levels. Estimated outlays assume current spending patterns.
    Vocational Rehabilitation Act. While the bulk of programs 
authorized by the VRA are deemed to be direct spending, some 
VRA programs, including the National Council on Disability and 
programs authorized under Title VIII, are considered 
discretionary spending. In addition, spending authorized by any 
amendments to the VRA is classified as discretionary.
    The bill would amend Title VI-A of the VRA to create a new 
grant program that would fund projects in telecommuting and 
self-employment for individuals with disabilities. The bill 
would authorize the appropriation of $10 million in fiscal year 
1998, and such sums as may be necessary through fiscal year 
2004 for this new grant program. After accounting for the GEPA 
extension, this new program would be authorized through 2005. 
In addition, S. 1579 would eliminate the existing authorization 
for community service employment pilot programs, which are not 
currently funded.
    The authorization for the National Council on Disability 
expires at the end of fiscal year 1998. S. 1579 would extend 
the ``such sums'' authorization of the council through 2004. 
The council has been funded at about $2 million annually for 
the past several years.
    Finally, S. 1579 would not extend authorizations for 
programs now authorized in Title VIII of the VRA. Although 
Title VIII currently authorizes several discretionary grant 
programs, they are funded at just $2 million for fiscal year 
1998, and are not authorized beyond that year.
    Helen Keller National Center Act. The current authorization 
for the Helen Keller National Center Act expires at the end of 
1998. S. 1579 would extend the ``such sums'' authorization for 
the center through 2005, including the GEPA extension.
    The center is funded in the Rehabilitation Services and 
Disability Research budget account and, thus, currently is 
classified as direct spending. However, unlike the VRA grant 
programs, this program is not included in the current baseline 
spending projections after 1998 because the Deficit Control Act 
stipulates that direct spending programs of less than $50 
million shall not be included in the baseline projections past 
their expiration dates. This bill would reauthorize the center, 
and under existing budget practices, it would be reclassified 
as a discretionary program. The center received funding of $8 
million in 1998.
    The bill would authorize additional appropriations for the 
center to maintain a national registry of individuals who are 
deaf-blind. CBO estimates that the costs of this registry would 
be negligible.
            Direct Spending
    S. 1579 would extend the ``such sums'' authorizations for 
existing programs under the VRA. The bill also would eliminate 
the authorizations of several unfunded programs. Most of the 
existing programs are funded in the Rehabilitation Services and 
Disability budget account, which is currently classified as 
direct spending.
    Most of the grant programs under the VRA are currently 
authorized at ``such sums as may be necessary'' through 1998. 
There are, however, two exceptions: the authorization for the 
basic state grant program expires at the end of 1999 (assuming 
the GEPA extension), and the improvement and evaluation grants 
are permanently authorized.
    S. 1579 would extend the authorization for the basic state 
grant program through 2006 including the GEPA extension. The 
estimated budget authority for basic grants is the previous 
year's appropriation adjusted for inflation. The basic state 
grant program received a total of $2.25 billion in 1998.
    For the client assistance grants under Title I and all the 
grants under Titles II through VII for which the authorization 
expires at the end of 1998, S. 1579 extends those ``such sums'' 
authorizations through 2005, including the GEPA extension. In 
1998, these grant programs received appropriations totaling 
$296 million.
    S. 1579 would authorize the National Council on Disability 
to solicit and accept monetary and non-monetary gifts ad to use 
any such gifts to further its programs. The proceeds of such 
gifts would be invested in interest-bearing obligations of the 
United States. Because donations are uncommon in other 
instances when agencies have this authority, CBO has not 
estimated any significant direct spending effects from this 
provision.
    Pay-as-you-go considerations: Section 252 of the Balanced 
Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 sets up pay-
as-you-go procedures for legislation affecting direct spending 
or receipts. While S. 1579 would affect both direct spending 
and receipts, it would not result in any significant change in 
either outlays or receipts in fiscal years 1998 through 2003 
relative to CBO's baseline projections.
    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: S. 1759 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995. The bill 
would reauthorize federal programs that provide grants to 
states for comprehensive vocational rehabilitation services 
designed to help individuals with physical and mental 
disabilities. In fiscal year 1998, states received 
approximately $2.4 billion in grants from programs reauthorized 
in the bill. CBO estimates that under S. 1579 such grants would 
total $2.5 billion in fiscal year 1999.
    Previous CBO estimate: On May 8, 1997, CBO provided an 
estimate for H.R. 1385, the Employment, Training and Literary 
Enhancement Act of 1997. Division B of this bill dealt with 
authorization of VRA programs. Although S. 1579 and H.R. 1385 
differ, their budgetary effects with regards to the VRA are 
similar.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Cost: Paul Cullinan, Deborah 
Kalcevic, Justin Latus, and Christina Hawley Sadoti. Impact on 
State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Marc Nicole. Impact on 
the Private Sector: Theresa Devine.
    Estimate approved by: Robert A. Sunshine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

            VI. APPLICATION OF LAW TO THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

    Section 102(b)(3) of Public Law 104-1, the Congressional 
Accountability Act (CAA), requires a description of the 
application of this bill to the legislative branch. S. 1579 
amends the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by improving access to 
vocational rehabilitation services, increasing access to 
employment opportunities, and streamlining administrative and 
discretionary program requirements. Other than requirements 
that the Rehabilitation Services Administration and the 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
submit certain reports to appropriate authorizing committees of 
Congress and the National Council on Disability advise Congress 
on Federal disability policy, there are no provisions that 
reference or apply to the legislative branch.

                    VII. Regulatory Impact Statement

    The committee has determined that there will be no increase 
in the regulatory burden imposed by this bill.

                   VIII. Section-by-Section Analysis

                        SECTION 1. Short Title.

    This section of the bill cites the title of this Act, ``the 
Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998''.

                           SECTION 2. Title.

    This section of the bill amends the current title to add 
links between this Act and the Workforce Investment Partnership 
Act of 1998 (WIPA).

                     SECTION 3. General Provisions.

    This section strikes the sections preceding title I and 
inserts the following new/revised sections:
Section 1. Short Title; Table of Contents.
    This section provides the short title, the ``Rehabilitation 
Act of 1973'' and restates the current table of contents with 
amendments.
Section 2. Findings, Purpose, and Policy.
    This section describes the reasons and justifications for 
this Act and adds links to the Workforce Investment Partnership 
Act. (In the section pertaining to ``Policy'' the bill uses the 
term ``individual's representative'' to mean any representative 
chosen by the eligible individual or other individual with a 
disability, including a parent, guardian, other family member, 
or advocate; or if a representative or legal guardian has been 
appointed by a court to represent the eligible individual or 
other individual with a disability, the court-appointed 
representative or legal guardian.)
Section 3. Rehabilitative Services Administration.
    This section provides administrative guidelines. It 
restates, without amendment, sections 3, 4, and 5 as they 
existed prior to this Act.
Section 4. Advance Funding.
    This section addresses appropriations procedures.
Section 5. Joint Funding.
    This section addresses the status of funds contributed to 
one Federal agency by another or others. The principal agency 
involved may be designated to act for all those contributing 
and if the primary agency is the Rehabilitation Services 
Administration, it may waive any grant or contract requirement 
that is inconsistent with any of the entity's administering 
requirements.
Section 6. Deleted.
Section 7. Definitions.
    This section provides the meanings of certain terms used in 
this Act, clarifies the meanings of certain terms, deletes 
certain terms, and alphabetizes the definitions.
Section 8. Allotment Percentage.
    This section addresses how the percent of the Federal 
allotment to the States as well as the percent of the Federal 
allotment to the District of Columbia and US territories are to 
be determined. This section has been amended to delete the 
Republic of Palau.
Section 9. Repealed by Public Law 103-382.
Section 10. Nonduplication.
    This section states that funds coming from other Federal 
sources will not be counted as a part of the Federal allotment 
to a State.
Section 11. Application of Other Laws.
    This section states that Public Law 93-510 and title V of 
Public law 95-134 do not apply to the administration of this 
Act.
Section 12. Administration of the Act.
    This section specifies actions the Commissioner may take in 
carrying out the purposes and provisions of this Act and 
stipulates regulations to be promulgated. This section also 
adds links to the WIPA and requires regulations implementing 
these amendments to be published no later than 180 days after 
their implementation. Furthermore, any regulations implementing 
these amendments must be necessary to administer the Amendments 
and ensure compliance with this Act.
Section 13. Reports.
    This section requires an annual report to the President and 
Congress no later than 180 days after the close of a fiscal 
year on activities carried out under this Act in such year. To 
the maximum extent appropriate, this information should be the 
same type of information described in section 321(d) of WIPA.
Section 14. Evaluation.
    This section instructs the Secretary of Education to 
conduct evaluations of programs authorized by this Act in order 
to improve their management and effectiveness. This section 
also requires the Commissioner of the Rehabilitative Services 
Agency (Commissioner) to conduct studies and analyses that 
identify exemplary practices concerning vocational 
rehabilitation, including studies in areas relating to 
providing informed choice in the rehabilitation process, 
promoting consumer satisfaction, promoting job placement and 
retention, providing supported employment, providing services 
to particular disability populations, financing personal 
assistance services, providing assistive technology devices and 
assistive technology services, entering into cooperative 
agreements, establishing standards and certification for 
community rehabilitation programs, converting from 
nonintegrated to integrated employment, and providing caseload 
management.
Section 15. Information Clearinghouse.
    This section establishes an ``Information Clearinghouse,'' 
to provide information on the location and availability of 
services for individuals with disabilities and requires the 
Clearinghouse to disseminate information provided by statewide 
workforce partnerships established under section 303 of WIPA 
regarding such services and programs authorized under WIPA.
Section 16. Transfer of Funds.
    This section provides that the funds appropriated under 
this Act must be used for the purposes for which they were 
intended.
Section 17. State Administration.
    This section states that the application of any state rule 
will be considered a state imposed requirement.
Section 18. Review of Applications.
    This section requires that any application for grants that 
exceed $100,000.00 be reviewed and requires such review to be 
done by peer review panels (except for applications concerning 
dissemination or conferences).
Section 19. Carryover.
    This section provides that any funds granted for a 
particular fiscal year, but not used during that year, may be 
held over and used during the next fiscal year.
Section 20. Client Assistance Information.
    This section provides that any programs providing 
rehabilitation services must advise their recipients of the 
availability and purpose of the Client Assistance Program as it 
is described in section 112.
Section 21. Traditionally Underserved Populations.
    This section finds that there are traditionally underserved 
populations, especially among minorities, and provides for 
recruitment, outreach, and awards to minorities. This section 
also requires the Commissioner and the Director of the National 
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to reserve 
1 percent of the funds each fiscal year for programs authorized 
under titles II, III, VI, and VII, of this Act, to carry out 
section 21(b). The Commissioner and the Director, in awarding 
grants, or entering into contracts or cooperative agreements 
under titles I, II, III, VI, and VII, and section 509, in 
appropriate cases, shall require applicants to demonstrate how 
they will address, in whole or in part, the needs of 
individuals with disabilities from minority backgrounds.

        SECTION 4. Title I--Vocational Rehabilitation Services.

    This section strikes the sections in title I and inserts 
the following new/revised sections:

                       Part A--General Provisions

Section 100. Declaration of Policy; Authorization of Appropriations.
    This section describes the findings, purposes, and policies 
that warrant and justify the Act. This section clarifies that 
applicants as well as eligible individuals must be active and 
full partners in collaboration with qualified vocational 
rehabilitation professionals during all aspects of the 
vocational rehabilitation process. Furthermore, this section 
provides links to
    WIPA, and technical amendments clarifying references to the 
Consumer Price Index.
Section 101. State Plans.
    This section provides the parameters and requirements for a 
State in developing its plan for providing rehabilitation 
services. It streamlines State requirements, coordinates the 
submission of this plan with State plans submitted under WIPA, 
simplifies State plan submission requirements, eliminates 
duplicative provisions, and clarifies other provisions. This 
section's subsections are addressed accordingly below.
    101(a)(1). Plan Requirements.--This paragraph states that a 
State is not required to submit a State plan that has been 
previously submitted to the Commissioner and demonstrates that 
the State meets the requirements of title I of this Act. A 
State's plan shall remain in effect subject to the submission 
of modifications, a change in Federal law (including 
regulations), an interpretation of this Act by a State or 
Federal court or the highest State court, or a finding by the 
Commissioner of noncompliance with the Act, until the State 
submits and receives approval of a new State plan.
    101(a)(2). Designated State Agency.--This paragraph 
requires the State plan to designate a State agency and/or a 
designated state unit to operate the State vocational 
rehabilitation system.
    101(a)(3). Non-Federal Share.--This paragraph requires the 
State plan to provide for financial participation by the State.
    101(a)(4). Statewideness.--This paragraph requires the 
State plan to be in effect in ``all political subdivisions'' of 
the State.
    101(a)(5). Order of Selection--This paragraph establishes 
the procedures a State must include in its State plan to be 
implemented if it can not serve all eligible individuals with 
disabilities. This paragraph provides that eligible 
individuals, who do not meet a State's order of selection 
criteria, shall have access to services provided through the 
information and referral system implemented under section 
101(a)(20).
    101(a)(6). Methods of Administration--This paragraph 
provides parameters under which each State rehabilitation 
agency must operate. This paragraph requires a State to provide 
an assurance in its State plan that, to the extent that private 
providers of utilize personnel not meeting the highest State 
standards that the private providers shall take steps to 
retrain them or hire new personnel that do meet these 
standards.
    101(a)(7). Comprehensive System of Personnel Development.--
This paragraph provides that a State plan must include a 
comprehensive nondiscriminatory system of personnel 
development. This paragraph requires that a State set aside 
funds from its allotment under section 110 to carry out the 
comprehensive system of personnel development, including the 
training of State agency personnel consistent with the agency's 
plan for personnel development.
    101(a)(8). Comparable Services and Benefits.- This 
paragraph requires State agencies to find other resources to 
pay for certain services if such resources are available. It 
requires a State to assure that, prior to providing any 
vocational rehabilitation services (except services specified 
in paragraph (5)(D) and paragraphs (1) through (4), and (14)) 
the State vocational rehabilitation agency will determine 
whether comparable services and benefits are available under 
any other program (other than a program carried out under title 
I of this Act) unless such a determination would interrupt or 
delay the progress of the individual toward achieving the 
employment outcome identified in his/her individualized 
rehabilitation employment plan or the provision of such service 
to any individual at extreme medical risk. The paragraph 
specifies that comparable benefits do not include awards and 
scholarships based on merit. This paragraph also requires the 
State's executive branch to oversee interagency agreements that 
will facilitate the provision of comparable benefits.
    101(a)(9). Individualized Rehabilitation Employment Plan.--
This paragraph requires a State plan to include an assurance 
that an individualized rehabilitation employment plan meeting 
the requirements of section 102(b) will be developed and 
implemented in a timely manner subsequent to the eligibility 
determination, except that in a State operating under an order 
of selection described in section 101(a) (5) the plan will be 
developed and implemented only for individuals meeting the 
order of selection criteria of the State. The State plan shall 
also include an assurance that services will be provided in 
accordance with the provisions of the individualized 
rehabilitation employment plan.
    101(a)(10). Reporting Requirements.--This paragraph 
requires the State plan to include assurances that the 
designated State unit will submit appropriate reports to the 
Commissioner regarding the performance of the State's 
vocational rehabilitation system. The paragraph further 
requires annual reporting on the eligible individuals receiving 
services, on those specific data elements described in section 
321(d)(2) of WIPA determined relevant by the Secretary. 
Finally, this section requires ``additional data,'' as 
enumerated in the Act, to be submitted to the Commissioner.
    101(a)(11). Cooperation, Collaboration, and Coordination.--
This paragraph requires the creation of agreements or contracts 
between the State vocational rehabilitation system and the 
State's workforce investment system or components thereof and 
the replication of such cooperative agreements at the local 
level. These contracts may include, but not be limited to the 
following:
     provision of intercomponent and/or interagency 
staff training and technical assistance;
     shared use of information and financial management 
systems that link all components of the statewide workforce 
investment system such as labor market information, information 
on job vacancies, career planning, and workforce investment 
activities;
     use of customer service features such as common 
intake and referral procedures, customer databases, resource 
information, and human services hot lines;
     establishment of cooperative efforts with 
employers to facilitate job placement; and carry out other 
activities that the State agency and employers determine 
appropriate; and
     procedures for resolving disputes among such 
components.
    This paragraph also requires the State plan to include an 
assurance that the State agency and the Statewide Independent 
Living Council, develop working relationships and coordinate 
their activities. This paragraph also requires that, in 
applicable cases, the State plan include an assurance that the 
State enters into a formal cooperative agreement with each 
grant recipient in the State that receives funds under part C. 
The agreement shall describe strategies for collaboration and 
coordination in providing vocational rehabilitation services to 
American Indians.
    101(a)(12). Residency.--This paragraph requires the State 
plan to include an assurance that the Sate will not impose 
residency requirements on any individuals who seeks assistance 
from the State vocational rehabilitation system.
    101(a)(13). Services to American Indians.--This paragraph 
requires the State plan to assure that, except as otherwise 
provided in part C, the State vocational rehabilitation agency 
will provide vocational rehabilitation services to American 
Indians who are individuals with disabilities residing in the 
State to the same extent as to other significant populations of 
residing in the State.
    101(a)(14). Annual Review of Individuals in Extended 
Employment or Other Employment under Special Certificate 
Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.--This 
paragraph requires the State plan to provide for:
     an annual review and reevaluation of the status of 
each individual served under title I of this Act, who has 
achieved an employment outcome to determine the interests, 
priorities, and needs of the individual with respect to 
competitive employment or training for competitive employment;
     the individual's input into the review and 
reevaluation and a signed acknowledgment by the individual, or, 
if appropriate the individual's representative that such review 
and reevaluation was conducted; and
     maximum efforts, including the identification and 
provision of vocational rehabilitation services, reasonable 
accommodations, and other necessary support services, to assist 
the individuals in engaging in competitive employment.
    101(a)(15). Annual State Goals and Reports of Progress.--
This paragraph specifies that the State plan must include the 
results of a comprehensive statewide assessment, every 3 years, 
describing the rehabilitation needs of resident individuals 
with disabilities. The assessment must include individuals with 
the most significant disabilities, individuals who have been 
underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program, and 
individuals served through other components of the statewide 
workforce investment system. This paragraph also requires the 
State Plan to include an assessment of the need to establish, 
develop, or improve community rehabilitation programs within 
the State.
    The Sate plan must also include estimates of the number of 
individuals in the State who are eligible for services, the 
number of such individuals who will receive services provided 
with funds provided under part B and under part C of title VI, 
including, if the State agency uses an order of selection in 
accordance with section 101 (a)(5), estimates of the number of 
individuals to be served under each priority category within 
the order.
    Finally, this section requires the State plan to identify 
the State's goals and priorities developed by the State 
vocational rehabilitation agency and the State Rehabilitation 
Council (if the State has such a council) for carrying out the 
program; describe the strategies the State will use to address 
the needs identified in the comprehensive assessment and to 
achieve its goals and priorities; and include the results of an 
evaluation of the State's performance relative to its goals on 
an annual basis.
    101(a)(16). Public Comment.--This paragraph consolidates 
public comment provisions and requires the State plan to:
     provide for public meetings throughout the State 
to comment on proposed policies or procedures; and
     provide for the State agency to take into account 
the views of individuals and groups of individuals who are 
recipients of vocational rehabilitation services, or in 
appropriate cases, the individuals' representatives, personnel 
working in programs that provide vocational rehabilitation 
services to individuals with disabilities, the director of the 
client assistance program, and the State Rehabilitation 
Council, if the State has such a Council.
    101(a)(17). Construction.--This paragraph requires the 
State plan to assure that the State will not use any funds made 
available under title I of this Act for the construction of 
facilities.
    101(a)(18). Innovation and Expansion Activities.--This 
paragraph requires the State plan to:
     include an assurance that the State will reserve 
and use a portion of the funds allotted to the State under 
section 110 for the development and implementation of 
innovative approaches to expand and improve the provision of 
vocational rehabilitation service and to support the funding of 
the State Rehabilitation Council and the Statewide Independent 
Living Council;
     include a description of how the reserved funds 
will be utilized; and
     provide that the State shall submit to the 
Commissioner an annual report containing a description of how 
the reserved funds will be utilized.
    101(a)(19). Choice.--This paragraph requires the State plan 
to assure that applicants, eligible individuals, or their 
representatives, will be provided information and support 
services to assist in exercising informed choice throughout the 
rehabilitation process.
    101(a)(20). Information and Referral Services.--This 
paragraph requires the State plan to assure that the State 
agency will implement an information and referral system 
adequate to ensure that individuals with disabilities will be 
provided accurate vocational rehabilitation information to 
assist in preparing for, securing, retaining, or regaining 
employment, and will be appropriately referred to Federal and 
State programs including other components of the statewide 
workforce investment system in the State. In providing these 
activities, a State may include services such as: 
individualized counseling and guidance, individualized 
vocational exploration, supervised job placement referrals, and 
assistance in securing reasonable accommodations for eligible 
individuals who do not meet the order of selection criteria 
used by the State, to the extent that such services are not 
purchased by the State vocational rehabilitation agency.
    101(a)(21). State Independent Consumer-Controlled 
Commission; State Rehabilitation Council.--This paragraph 
requires the State plan to provide either an independent 
consumer controlled commission or a state rehabilitation 
council. The paragraph also provides for the specific 
requirements and responsibilities for each.
    101(a)(22). Supported Employment State Plan Supplement.--
This paragraph requires the State plan to assure that the State 
has an acceptable plan for carrying out part C of title VI, 
including the use of funds under that part to supplement funds 
made available under part B of title I to pay for the cost of 
services leading to supported employment.
    101(a)(23). Electronic and Information Technology 
Regulations.--This paragraph requires the State plan to assure 
that the State and any recipient or subrecipient of funds will 
comply with the requirements of section 508, including the 
regulations established under that section, and will coordinate 
efforts to comply with section 508, adopt grievance procedures 
that incorporate due process standards, and provide for the 
prompt and equitable resolution of complaints concerning such 
requirements.
    101(a)(24). Annual Updates.--This paragraph requires a 
State plan to assure that the State will submit to the 
Commissioner reports containing annual updates of the 
information required in section 101(a)(7) relating to a 
comprehensive system of personnel development, updates of 
information required under section 101 requested by the 
Commissioner, annual reports as provided in section 101(a)(15) 
relating to assessments, estimates, goals and priorities, and 
reports of progress, and section 101(a)(18) (relating to 
innovation and expansion), at such time and in such manner as 
the Secretary may determine to be appropriate.
    101(b). Approval; Disapproval of the State Plan.--This 
subsection provides that the Commissioner shall approve any 
plan that the he finds fulfills the conditions specified in 
section 101, and shall disapprove any plan that does not 
fulfill such conditions. Prior to disapproval of the State 
plan, the Commissioner shall notify the State of the intention 
to disapprove the plan and shall afford the State reasonable 
notice and opportunity for a hearing.
Section 102. Eligibility and Individualized Rehabilitation Employment 
        Plan.
    This section addresses an individual's eligibility for 
vocational rehabilitation services, development of the 
Individualized Rehabilitation Employment Plan (IREP), dispute 
resolution procedures, and informed choice. Subsection 102(a) 
covers: criterion for eligibility, a presumption of benefit for 
individuals, a presumption of eligibility for individuals 
receiving SSI or SSDI benefits, the use of existing information 
to determine eligibility, determinations of ineligibility, and 
the time frame for making eligibility determinations.
    Subsection (b) addresses the development of individualized 
rehabilitation employment plans (IREPs), and mandatory 
procedures and components of an IREP.
    Subsection (c) addresses due process procedures, options a 
State has in setting up its dispute resolution process, and 
provides for mediation.
    Subsection (d) addresses the issue of informed choice. This 
subsection requires a State to implement policies assuring 
eligible individuals the opportunity to exercise informed 
choice throughout their vocational rehabilitation process, 
including policies and procedures that require the State 
vocational rehabilitation agency to: inform individuals about 
the availability of and opportunities to, exercise informed 
choice; afford eligible individuals meaningful choices among 
the methods used to procure services; assist individuals in the 
selection of an employment outcome, necessary specific 
vocational rehabilitation services, the entity that will 
provide the services, and the employment setting in which the 
services will be provided.
Section 103. Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
    This section specifies that vocational rehabilitation 
services provided under title I are any services described in 
an IREP necessary to assist an individual prepare for, secure, 
retain, or regain an employment outcome consistent with his/her 
strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, 
capabilities, interests, and informed choice. This section also 
lists what these services may include. Subsection (b) specifies 
certain vocational rehabilitation services that may be provided 
for the benefit of groups of individuals.
Section 104. Non-Federal Share.
    This section deletes references to construction. 
Additionally, this section states that, for the purpose of 
determining the amount of payments to States for carrying out 
part B or part C of the Act, the non-Federal share, subject to 
limitations prescribed in regulations, shall include 
contributions of funds made by any private agency, 
organization, or individual to a State or local agency to 
assist in meeting the costs of establishment of a community 
rehabilitation program, which would be regarded as State or 
local funds except for the condition, imposed by the 
contributor, limiting use of such funds to establishment of 
such a program.
Section 105. State Rehabilitation Council.
    This section requires that if the State vocational 
rehabilitation agency is not a consumer controlled commission, 
the State must establish a State Rehabilitation Council. States 
which have seperate agencies to provide vocational 
rehabilitation assistance for individuals who are blind, may 
establish seperate councils for such agencies. It also renames 
the State Rehabilitation Council as such and amends the 
provision regarding the Council's membership. Finally, this 
section lists the Council's functions.
Section 106. Evaluation Standards and Performance Indicators.
    This section requires the Commissioner to establish and 
publish standards and performance indicators no later that 
September 30, 1998. It also requires the Commissioner to: 
review and, if necessary, revise the evaluation standards and 
performance indicators every 3 years. He must also, to the 
maximum extent practicable, make the standards and indicators 
consistent with the core indicators of performance established 
under section 321(b) of WIPA, and beginning in fiscal year 
1999, include in each annual report to the Congress an analysis 
of program performance.
Section 107. Monitoring and Review.
    This section requires the Commissioner to review State 
programs and determine whether the State is complying with the 
provisions of its State plan. This section provides the 
procedures for these reviews and what the Commissioner may do 
upon a finding of noncompliance including technical assistance 
and withholding payments. This section also provides States 
that have been found out of compliance an opportunity to appeal 
this decision along with all the procedures and standards 
inherent thereto.
Section 108. Expenditure of Certain Amounts.
    This section states that Social Security reimbursements may 
not be expended except for the purposes of carrying out 
specific programs.
Section 109. Training of Employers with Respect to the Americans with 
        Disabilities Act of 1990.
    This section allows States to expend funds to train 
employers regarding compliance with the Americans with 
Disabilities Act of 1990.

            Part B--Basic Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Section 110. State Allotments.
    This section describes the protocols and amounts each State 
will receive from the Federal government to operate its 
vocational rehabilitation programs. It also adjusts the 
reservation of funds for part C projects (vocational 
rehabilitation services to American Indians) allowing it to 
range from 3/4 of 1 percent to 1.5 percent of the total amount 
of all States' allotments in fiscal year 1998, and to range 
from one percent to 1.5 percent of the total amount of all 
States' allotments in fiscal years 1999 through 2004.
Section 111. Payments to States.
    This section states additional protocols by which states 
receive their payments from the Federal government for the 
operation of vocational rehabilitation programs. This section 
also deletes references to the ``Strategic Plan'' in section 
111(a)(1) and also deletes paragraph (3), concerning 
construction projects, in subsection 111(a).
Section 112. Client Assistance Program.
    This section describes the program through which 
individuals receiving vocational rehabilitation services 
receive legal advise and advocacy regarding their relationships 
with rehabilitation counselors and the State agency. This 
section also requires each Client Assistance Program to assure, 
to the maximum extent possible, that alternative means of 
dispute resolution are available at an individual's discretion 
prior to resorting to litigation or formal adjudication to 
resolve a dispute. This section defines ``alternative means of 
dispute resolution'' as any procedure, including good faith 
negotiation, conciliation, facilitation, mediation, fact 
finding, and arbitration, and any combination of procedures, 
that is used in lieu of litigation or formal adjudication, to 
resolve a dispute.

       Part C--American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Section 121. Vocational Rehabilitation Services Grants.
    This section allows the Commissioner to make grants to 
Indian tribes to paying 90% of the vocational rehabilitation 
costs of individuals with disabilities living on reservations. 
To receive a grant, an Indian tribe must submit an application 
conforming with the requirements of this section and the 
application must be approved by the Commissioner. This section 
also requires that grants not exceed 60 months in duration 
except as otherwise determined by the Commissioner pursuant to 
prescribed regulations.

     Part D--Vocational Rehabilitation Services/Client Information

Section 131. Data Sharing.
    This section requires the Secretaries of Education and 
Health and Human Services to enter into an agreement through 
which the departments will exchange information of mutual 
importance. Furthermore, this section requires the Secretary of 
Labor to provide the Commissioner with labor market information 
important to the evaluation of the rehabilitation program, 
especially compared to the progress of individuals being 
assisted under WIPA.

                   SECTION 5. Research and Training.

    This section strikes the sections in title II and inserts 
the following new/revised sections:

                    Title II--Research and Training

Section 200. Purpose.
    This section describes the purposes of this title. It also: 
requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach to the 
support and conduct of research, demonstration projects, 
training, and related activities; promotes the of transfer of 
rehabilitation technology to individuals with disabilities 
through research and demonstration; obligates the dissemination 
of practical scientific and technological information to the 
general public; and requires the identification of effective 
strategies that enhance the opportunities of individuals with 
disabilities to engage in employment, including employment 
involving telecommuting and self-employment.
Section 201. Authorization of Appropriations.
    This section provides authorization for funds to be spent 
on title II activities. This section also extends the 
authorizations of appropriations for the National Institute on 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research (the Institute) through 
fiscal year 2004.
Section 202. National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation 
        Research.
    This section establishes an institute known as the National 
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. This 
section also provides the general responsibilities of the 
Institute as well as the responsibilities of its Director. This 
section also provides for ``Standing Peer Review Panels,'' 
their make-up, authority, and responsibilities, for the review 
of applications for funding. All funding must be tied to a 
five-year plan.
Section 203. Interagency Committee.
    This section establishes an ``Interagency Committee on 
Disability Research.'' The section establishes who shall serve 
on this Committee, how often it shall meet, and requires the 
committee to submit to the President and to the appropriate 
Congressional committees, a report outlining the committee's 
recommendations for the coordination of policy and development 
directives.
Section 204. Research and Other Covered Activities.
    This section allows the Director of the National Institute 
on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to make grants to and 
contracts with States and public or private agencies and 
organizations. Although the Director emphasizes projects that 
support the implementation of titles I, III, V, VI, and VII, 
this section delineates many various projects for which these 
grants may be used including the establishment of 
Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers and projects that 
these centers may conduct. However, Rehabilitation Research and 
Training Centers must promote the ability of individuals with 
disabilities to prepare for, secure, retain, regain, or advance 
in employment. This section outlines the eligibility criteria 
to receive these grants and states that the grants shall be 
awarded on a competitive basis.
Section 205. Rehabilitation Research Advisory Council.
    This section allows the Secretary of Education to establish 
a ``Rehabilitation Research Advisory Council'' subject to the 
availability of appropriations. This section describes the 
duties of the Council, qualifications for its members, the 
details of their terms of appointment, procedures for the event 
of a vacancy, and other administrative concerns.

     SECTION 6. Professional Development and Special Projects and 
                            Demonstrations.

    This section strikes the sections in title III and inserts 
the following new/revised sections:

     Title III--Professional Development and Special Projects and 
                             Demonstrations

Section 301. Declaration of Purpose and Competitive Basis of Grants and 
        Contracts.
    This section outlines the purpose of this title (to 
authorize grants and contract) as well as the purposes of such 
grants and contracts. The Secretary must ensure that all grants 
and contracts are awarded under this title are done so on a 
competitive basis.
Section 302. Training.
    This section requires the Commissioner to make grants and 
enter into contracts to assist in increasing the numbers of, 
and upgrade the skills of, qualified personnel, especially 
rehabilitation counselors. These grants and contracts may 
include scholarships and any necessary stipends. Importantly, 
this section permits the Commissioner to make grants and enter 
into contracts to furnish training to personnel providing 
services to individuals with disabilities under WIPA. These 
training projects may be jointly funded with the Department of 
Labor, using monies available under title III of WIPA. This 
section also allows the Commissioner to make grants or enter 
into contracts to pay part of the costs of academic training 
projects to provide training that leads to an academic degree 
or certificate so long as these funds are targeted at areas 
with shortages of qualified personnel. However, this section 
places certain limitations on such grants or contracts and 
requires any recipients to make certain assurances to the 
Commissioner. No grants are awarded unless the applicant 
applies pursuant to prescribed rules. The Commissioner may 
award grants to establish interpreter training programs for the 
deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf/blind communities. And, the 
Commissioner must provide training grants to Historically Black 
Colleges and Universities.
Section 303. Special Demonstration Programs.
    This section allows the Commissioner to award grants or 
enter into contracts for the purpose of funding programs that 
expand and improve the provision of rehabilitation services. In 
addition to authorizing demonstrations that provide direct 
services to individuals, this authority would allow for 
replication, dissemination, and use of projects and activities 
directed at State systemic change. This section describes 
eligible entities, the terms and conditions of the grants or 
contracts, the application requirement of each potential 
grantee, and the types of projects that may be funded. 
Specifically, this section establishes several authorities 
within a menu from which the Commissioner may choose in 
announcing and tailoring specific competitions. This section 
also provides a list of activities that are to be given 
priority consideration in announcing a competition along with 
several other authorized activities that can be considered.
Section 304. Migrant and Seasonal Farm Workers.
    This section specifies that the Commissioner may make 
grants to eligible entities to pay up to 90 percent of the cost 
of projects or demonstration programs for the provision of 
vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with 
disabilities who are migrant or seasonal farm workers and to 
the family members who are residing with these individuals. 
This section also provides the eligibility requirements for 
such grants.
Section 305. Recreational Projects.
    This section requires the Commissioner to make grants to 
pay the Federal share of the cost to establish and operate 
recreation programs providing individuals with disabilities 
recreational activities to aid in their employment, mobility, 
socialization, independence, and community integration. This 
section requires that programs and activities carried out under 
this section demonstrate ways in which such programs assist in 
maximizing the independence and integration of individuals with 
disabilities. This section establishes eligibility criteria and 
states that applicants must make certain assurances to the 
Commissioner.
Section 306. Measuring Project Outcomes and Performance.
    This section allows the Commissioner to require grant 
recipients under title III to submit information, as determined 
by the Commissioner to be necessary, to measure project 
outcomes and performance, including any data needed to comply 
with the Government Performance and Results Act.

               SECTION 7. National Council on Disability.

    This section strikes the sections in title IV and inserts 
the following new/revised sections:

                Title IV--National Council on Disability

Section 400. Establishment of National Council on Disability.
    This section establishes a National Council on Disability, 
provides for the number of members, how they are selected, who 
they shall represent, and their terms.
Section 401. Duties of National Council.
    This section outlines the duties and responsibilities of 
the Council. These shall include providing advice to the 
Director of the National Institute on Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research and providing advice to the 
Commissioner, the President, and Congress, as well as provide a 
``progress'' report to Congress no later than July 26, 1998 and 
annually thereafter.
Section 402. Compensation of National Council members.
    This section entitles the members of the Council to 
compensation pursuant to the Senior Executive Service Schedule
Section 403. Staff of National Council.
    This section addresses the appointment and removal 
authority of the Council, procurement of temporary services, 
and other staffing issues and procedures. The Chairperson of 
the Council may remove an executive director without regard to 
laws pertaining to Federal employment. The cap on the number of 
staff the Council may employ is lifted. The Council may solicit 
money or property, however, the Secretary of the Treasury is to 
invest any assets not required for the operation of NCD.
Section 404. Administrative Powers of the National Council.
    This section allows the Council to use such administrative 
tools as may be necessary to carry out its duties such as 
prescribing bylaws, holding hearings, and appointing advisory 
committees.
Section 405. Authorization of Appropriations.
    Such sums as may be necessary are authorized for this 
title.

                    SECTION 8. Rights and Advocacy.

    This section and its subsections delete certain sections of 
title V, Rights and Advocacy, and inserts the new/revised 
sections referred to therein. The balance of title V, Rights 
and Advocacy, (The sections not referred to herein) remain 
unchanged.
SECTION 8(a). Conforming Amendments to Rights and Advocacy Provisions.
    Sections 501, 502, 504, and 506 each have conforming 
amendments.
SECTION 8(b). Section 508.
    Electronic and Information Technology Regulations. This 
section requires each federal agency to procure, maintain, and 
use electronic and information technology that allows 
individuals with disabilities the same access to information 
technology as individuals with out disabilities. The Access 
Board is required to issue regulations establishing the 
criteria necessary to implement the requirements of this 
section.
SECTION 8(c). Section 509.
    Protection and Advocacy.--This section establishes the 
procedures, means, and details to support a system in each 
State to protect the legal and human rights of individuals with 
disabilities. This section makes specific provisions for an 
allotment to the American Indian consortium and provides 
definitions for the terms ``Eligible System'' and ``American 
Indian consortium.''
SECTION 9. Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities.
    This section strikes the sections in title VI and inserts 
the following new/revised sections:

  Title VI--Employment Opportunities for Individuals With Disabilities

 Part A--Projects in Telecommuting and Self-Employment for Individuals 
                           with Disabilities

Section 601. Short Title.
    This title may be cited as the Employment Opportunities for 
Individuals With Disabilities Act.
Section 611. Findings, Policies, and Purposes.
    This section establishes the reasons for creating this 
title and what it is intended to accomplish. Specifically, it 
promotes opportunities for individuals with disabilities to 
secure, retain, regain, or advance in employment involving 
telecommuting; gain access to employment opportunities; 
demonstrate their abilities, capabilities, interests, and 
preferences regarding employment in positions that are 
increasingly being offered to individuals in the workplace; and 
promote opportunities for individuals with disabilities to 
engage in self-employment enterprises that permit these 
individuals to achieve significant levels of independence, 
participate in and contribute to the life of their communities, 
and offer employment opportunities to others.
Section 612. Telecommuting.
    This section authorizes projects in telecommuting for 
individuals with disabilities, describes what eligible entities 
must do to qualify for grants, how grant funds must be used, 
sets out certain requirements for each telecommunication 
project to meet, and describes certain limitations on these 
projects.
Section 613. Self-Employment.
    This section authorizes projects in self-employment for 
individuals with disabilities, describes what eligible entities 
must do to qualify for grants, how grant funds must be used, 
sets out certain requirements for each self employment project 
to meet, and describes certain limitations on these projects. 
This section also specifies that the term `client' means 1 or 
more individuals with disabilities who engage in or seek to 
engage in a self-employment enterprise.
Section 614. Dual Purpose Grants.
    This section authorizes the Commissioner to make dual 
purpose awards, as long as applications meet the requirements 
of sections 612 and 613.
Section 615. Authorization of Appropriations.
    This part is authorized for such sums as may be necessary.

                     Part B--Projects with Industry

Section 621. Projects with Industry.
    This section intends to create and expand job and career 
opportunities for individuals with disabilities in the 
competitive labor market. This section permits the Commissioner 
to award grants to any of several entities to establish 
business advisory councils (whose responsibilities are 
enumerated), job placement and career advancement services, to 
the extent appropriate training in realistic work settings, and 
support services. This section also requires access to and use 
of labor market information identified by local workforce 
partnerships for project grantees. This section also delineates 
the eligibility determination for individuals, provides for an 
agreement between the Commissioner and the grantee to providing 
the services, and provides for standards under which a 
grantee's performance will be evaluated.

Part C--Supported Employment Services for Individuals with Significant 
                              Disabilities

Section 631. Purpose.
    This sections states the reason for establishing this Part; 
i.e., to enable individuals with significant disabilities to 
achieve the employment outcome of supported employment.
Section 632. Allotments.
    This section provides for allotments to States to carry out 
this Part.
Section 633. Availability of Services.
    This section delineates to whom funds for services are 
available.
Section 634. Eligibility.
    This section explains the criteria an individual must have 
to be eligible for supported employment services.
Section 635. State Plan.
    This section outlines the requirements a State Plan must 
meet in order to be eligible for supported employment funds. 
Among other requirements, State Plans must include an assurance 
that the comprehensive assessments of individuals with 
significant disabilities conducted under section 102(b)(1) and 
funded under title I of the Act will include consideration of 
supported employment as an appropriate employment outcome.
Section 636. Restriction.
    This section states that required information must be 
collected separately for eligible individuals receiving 
supported employment services under this part and for those 
receiving it under title I.
Section 637. Savings Provision.
    This section allows States to use funds received under 
section 110 to provide supported employment services.
Section 638. Authorization of Appropriations.
    This section authorizes such sums as may be necessary to 
carry out these provisions and extends the authorization of 
appropriations of part C of the Act through fiscal year 2004.

  SECTION 10. Independent Living Services and Centers for Independent 
                                Living.

    This section strikes the sections in title VII and inserts 
the following new/revised sections:

  Title VII--Independent Living Services and Centers for Independent 
                                 Living

          Chapter 1--Individuals with Significant Disabilities

                       Part A--General Provisions

Section 701. Purpose.
    This section states the reason for implementing this 
chapter; i.e.,, to promote a philosophy of independent living, 
consumer control, peer support, self-help, self determination, 
equal access, and individual and system advocacy.
Section 702. Definitions.
    This section provides certain definitions for given terms 
used in this chapter. The defined terms are: ``Center for 
Independent Living'' and ``Consumer Control.''
Section 703. Eligibility for Receipt of Services.
    This sections states that any individual who has a 
significant disability as defined in section 7(21)(B) is 
eligible for services.
Section 704. State Plan.
    This section requires a State to provide to the 
Commissioner a State plan (jointly developed with the State 
director and the chairperson of the Statewide Independent 
Living Council). This section also details what the plan must 
include and what it must provide including independent living 
services, the provision for the Statewide Independent Living 
Council, coordination of services to avoid duplication of 
services with other State or Federal agencies, provisions for 
outreach to underserved populations, and a method for periodic 
evaluation of the plan's effectiveness.
Section 705. Statewide Independent Living Council.
    This section states that to receive financial assistance 
under this chapter, a State must establish a ``Statewide 
Independent Living Council.'' This section goes on to describe 
the Council's composition which includes at least 1 director of 
a center for independent living, representatives of appropriate 
State agencies, and in a State with projects carried out under 
section 121 (American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation) at 
least 1 representative of the directors of those projects. This 
section also describes the qualifications of Council members, 
the terms of their appointments, procedures to take in the 
event of a vacancy, the Council's duties, and the Council's 
authority to conduct hearings.
Section 706. Responsibilities of the Commissioner.
    This section outlines the Commissioner's responsibilities 
regarding: the approval of the State plans submitted pursuant 
to section 704, publishing indicators of minimum compliance, 
conducting on site compliance reviews, and reporting the 
results of these reviews as well as Independent Living Centers' 
compliance with compliance indicators.

                  Part B--Independent Living Services

Section 711. Allotments.
    This section provides for State allotments to carry out the 
functions of this Part. This section now clarifies the means by 
which minimum allotments are adjusted for inflation.
Section 712. Payments to States From Allotments.
    This section addresses the payments of the Federal shares 
to the States.
Section 713. Authorized Use of Funds.
    This section authorizes States to use their allotment for 
costs related to the Statewide Independent Living Council and 
other enumerated expenses.
Section 714. Authorization of Appropriations.
    This section authorizes such sums as may be necessary to 
carry out the functions of this part and extends the 
authorization of appropriations for part B, chapter 1 of title 
VII through fiscal year 2004.

                 Part C--Centers for Independent Living

Section 721. Program Authorization.
    This section requires the Commissioner to allot such sums 
as may be necessary according to the provisions of this section 
pertaining to: training; the States' allotment pursuant to 
population basis, the maintenance of 1992 amounts, allowable 
minimum amounts; certain territories' allotments; and 
reallotments of funds that will not be used by certain States. 
This section also clarifies the means by which minimum 
allotments are adjusted for inflation.
Section 722. Grants to Centers for Independent Living in States in 
        Which Federal Funding Exceeds State Funding.
    This section provides that unless the State director awards 
grants to eligible centers for independent living in his State, 
the Commissioner shall for the purposes of planning, conduct, 
and administration of independent living centers that meet the 
compliance assurance standards set out in this title. This 
section also provides the eligibility standards for such 
grants, addresses the possibility that no center for 
independent living exists in a given area, and the 
Commissioner's periodic review of centers for independent 
living receiving such funds.
Section 723. Grants to Centers for Independent Living in States in 
        Which State Funding Equals or Exceeds Federal Funding.
    This section provides that the State Director or the 
Commissioner must award grants to eligible centers for 
independent living if the Commissioner determines that the 
amount a State has set aside to support its eligible centers 
for independent living either equals or exceeds the amount 
allotted to the State for that purpose. This section provides 
the eligibility standards for such grants, addresses the 
possibility that no center for independent living exists in a 
given area, and the Commissioner's periodic review of centers 
for independent living receiving such funds. These grants are 
for the planning conduct and administration of independent 
living centers that meet the compliance assurance standards set 
out in this title.
Section 724. Centers Operated by State Agencies.
    This section provides that States or outlying areas 
receiving assistance for centers for independent living they 
operate, may continue to do so, so long as no nonprofit agency 
is approved to operate the center and funds are available.
Section 725. Standards and Assurances for Centers for Independent 
        Living.
    This section provides standards and assurances with which 
each Center for Independent Living receiving assistance must 
comply.
Section 726. Definitions.
    This section defines the term ``eligible agency'' as it is 
used in this Part.
Section 727. Authorization or Appropriations.
    This section authorizes such sums as may be necessary to 
carry out the functions of this Part and extends the 
authorization of appropriations for part C, chapter 1 of title 
VII of the Act through fiscal year 2004.

 Chapter 2--Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are 
                                 Blind

Section 751. Definitions.
    This section defines the term ``older individual who is 
blind'' for the purposes of this chapter.
Section 752. Program of Grants.
    This section provides that the Commissioner may make 
certain grants (contingent on described factors) to States for 
the purpose of providing independent living services to older 
individuals who are blind, conducting activities that will 
improve or expand these services, and conducting activities to 
help improve the public's understanding of the problems of such 
individuals. This section also provides that State grants are 
not allowable unless a State makes available matching non-
Federal contributions. A State must incorporate any new methods 
relating to independent living services for older individuals 
who are blind into its State Plan, a State must apply for these 
grants, and there is a formula by which the amount of these 
grants are determined.
Section 753. Authorization of Appropriations.
    This section authorizes such sums as may be necessary to 
carry out the functions of this Part and extends the 
authorization of appropriations for part C, chapter 1 of title 
VII of the Act through fiscal year 2004.

                          Title VIII--REPEALED

     Miscellaneous Amendments Not Related to the Rehabilitation Act

SECTION 11. Helen Keller National Center Act (HKNCA)
    11(a). Section 205(a). General Authorization of 
Appropriations.--This section of the HKNCA, extends the 
authorization of appropriations for the Act through fiscal year 
2004.
    11(b). Section 208(h). Helen Keller National Center Federal 
Endowment Fund.--This section of the HKNCA extends the 
authority for the endowment through fiscal year 2004.
    11(c). Section 209. Registry.--This section is added to the 
HKNCA, requiring the establishment of a national registry of 
individuals who are deaf-blind with a separate authorization of 
appropriations for the registry that extends to fiscal year 
2000.
SECTION 12. President's Committee on Employment of People with 
        Disabilities
    This section gives the above named Committee the authority 
to solicit money and property. [The authorization for the 
committee is found in section 2(2) of the Joint Resolution 
entitled ``Joint Resolution authorizing an appropriation for 
the work of the President's Committee on National Employ the 
Physically Handicapped Week'', approved July 11, 1949 (36 
U.S.C. 155b(2)).]
SECTION 13. Peer Review--This section amends Part B of title IV of the 
        Department of Education Organization Act by inserting before 
        its section 427, a new section ``426A. Peer Review, which 
        states that the Federal Advisory Committee Act does not apply 
        to peer review panels established by the Secretary to evaluate 
        applications for financial assistance awarded on a competitive 
        basis.''
SECTION 14. Conforming Amendments.
    14(a) Preparation.--This subsection requires the Secretary 
of Education to recommend legislation containing technical and 
conforming amendments.
    14(b) Submission to Congress.--This subsection requires the 
submission of said recommendations no later that 6 months 
following the date of enactment.

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