What's New in RSA

ReThink VR Performance Update

Beginning in the Spring of 2019, RSA, CSAVRNCSAB, and VR agencies committed to rethinking the way we look at the performance of the VR program, improving results, and maintaining high expectations of both the VR program and individuals with disabilities. Through several meetings in the Summer and Fall of 2019, RSA identified strategies it will adopt to rethink how RSA fosters continuous improvement, enhances collaboration, and maximizes high-quality employment opportunities for customers served by the VR program. During the CSAVR Fall 2019 Conference, RSA presented its ReThink VR Performance Plan outlining 52 specific actions across five priority areas. A recording of the Fall 2019 presentation is available.

As of July 26, 2021, RSA has completed 41 of 52 actions, or 79 percent of all actions. The remaining 11 actions are in progress with expected completion dates in FFYs 2021 or 2022. 

  1. Performance Data: 9 of 10 actions completed

  2. Flexibility and Reduction of Burden: 4 of 4 actions completed

  3. Technical Assistance and Dissemination: 9 of 14 actions completed

  4. Monitoring: 8 out 12 actions completed

  5. Communication: 11 of 12 actions completed

(July 26, 2021)

Recent Funding Opportunities to Expand Access to Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities

In July 2021, RSA celebrates the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), landmark legislation created to ensure everyone has the right to take part in all aspects of life and community, including employment.

Developed through a multiagency collaboration around the ADA anniversary, this CIE Funding Opportunities Fact Sheet, published by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, highlights new funding and flexibilities that provide significant opportunities to increase access to competitive integrated employment for youth and adults with disabilities. These opportunities are provided through the work of multiple Federal agencies providing services to individuals with disabilities, including:

  • Administration for Community Living (ACL), HHS
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), HHS
  • Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), ED
  • Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), ED
  • Social Security Administration (SSA)
(July 16, 2021)

RSA-911 Edit Checker

On May 27, 2021, RSA announced that its RSA-911 Edit Checker is available year-round to VR agency staff with permission to submit the RSA-911 reports in the RSAMIS. Since WIOA data collection began in Program Year 2017, VR agencies have only been able to use the RSA-911 Edit Checker during the four 45-day reporting windows after each quarter. While VR agencies could conduct limited testing of RSA-911 files during these 180 days, RSA wanted to provide access to the RSA-911 Edit Checker outside of the reporting windows so that all VR agencies may securely test files at no cost and without officially submitting them.  Year-round access to the RSA-911 Edit Checker should not only make reporting during the four 45-day reporting windows easier, but it should help to improve the quality of these data as VR agencies will have more opportunities for quality assurance.

We appreciate the support our colleagues at Idaho’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Wisconsin’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation who assisted us with testing this new feature. Please email RSAData@ed.gov with any questions or feedback.

(May 27, 2021)

Open Data

On March 25, 2021, RSA announced its approach to Open Data in support of The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (Evidence Act), which requires changes to how Federal agencies manage and use the information they collect, emphasizing the strategic use of data. As required by the Evidence Act's Open Data Plan, RSA is committed to making the data it collects from grantees "open by default" and available to the public to use for a variety of purposes. RSA acknowledges that Open Data supports the performance and fiscal accountability of the programs it administers. RSA also acknowledges that data-driven decisions lead to better outcomes for individuals with disabilities who are served by these programs.

Throughout Spring 2021, RSA will begin to publish reports submitted by grantees across Federal Fiscal Years 2016 through 2020 under View Data. These reports will be available to grantees with RSAMIS accounts as well as the public. The publishing process will be incremental and not all reports will be available at once. As of March 2021, RSA has published all of the Resolution of Applicant/Client Appeals (RSA-722) reports. For RSA's formula awards, the Fiscal Unit will be publishing certain reports (e.g., RSA-2, RSA-17, RSA-692, and SF-425) while Project Officers will do the same for other programs’ reports (e.g., RSA-7-OB, RSA-15, RSA-227, RSA-509, and RSA-AIVRS). Points of contact for each information collection are listed in the table at View Data.

Please note that RSA publishes some reports in different formats outside of View Data, including: WIOA Annual ReportsWIOA Unified and Combined State PlansVR Program Monitoring ReportsRandolph-Sheppard Arbitration Panel Decisions; and Annual Reports to Congress.

RSA appreciates your patience as we publish reports and thanks its grantees, in advance, as they make updates. As always, RSA welcomes feedback related to its website and the RSAMIS. Please email your suggestions to your RSA State Liaison or RSAData@ed.gov

(March 25, 2021)

RSA Quarterly Teleconference with VR Agencies

On March 25, 2021, RSA Acting Deputy Commissioner, Carol Dobak, and RSA management held a quarterly teleconference with VR agencies and other stakeholders to share current RSA events and answer questions related to RSA Programs. The audio recording and transcript of the teleconference are available. 

(March 25, 2021)

FAQs related to Randolph-Sheppard Act Financial Relief and Restoration Payments Appropriation

On March 12, 2021, RSA issued Frequently Asked Questions: Randolph-Sheppard Act Financial Relief and Restoration Payments Appropriation (FAQ 21-04) to respond to inquiries concerning the administration of the Randolph-Sheppard Act Financial Relief and Restoration Payments Appropriation. 

(March 12, 2021)

FAQs related to “Competitive Integrated Employment" and Participant Choice

On March 8 2021, RSA reissued Frequently Asked Questions: Criterion for an Integrated Employment Location in the Definition of “Competitive Integrated Employment" and Participant Choice (FAQ 21-03). RSA is seeking public comment on this proposed guidance that clarifies the Department’s policy on the criterion for an integrated employment location in the definition of “competitive integrated employment,” for purposes of the VR program. The proposed guidance clarifies, updates, and supersedes the Department’s guidance titled Frequently Asked Questions: Integrated Location Criteria of the Definition of “Competitive Integrated Employment” issued on January 17, 2017. 

The Federal Register published these FAQs on March 9, 2021. Comments may be submitted through the Federal Register and are requested by April 8, 2021. 

(March 9, 2021)

RSA and AbilityOne MOU

On January 19, 2021, RSA and the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled (operating as the U.S. AbilityOne Commission) executed a Memorandum of Understanding through which the Federal agencies agree to work together to increase communication and understanding regarding which opportunities are appropriate for persons who are blind to operate vending facilities under the Randolph-Sheppard Act and which are appropriate for placement on the Procurement List under the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act. Furthermore, RSA and AbilityOne agree to work together to expand entrepreneurial and other employment-related opportunities for individuals who are blind or who have significant disabilities. Employment outcomes and entrepreneurial opportunities for individuals who are blind or who have significant disabilities can be improved through a closer working relationship between AbilityOne and RSA. This Memorandum of Understanding establishes the framework for the Federal agencies to work more closely together and to encourage their respective stakeholders to also work cooperatively together to promote improved services and entrepreneurial and employment opportunities to their mutual participants.

(January 19, 2021)

FFY 2021 MTAG

On January 19, 2021, RSA published the FFY 2021 Monitoring and Technical Assistance Guide (MTAG). Consistent with the requirement in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by Title IV of WIOA, to conduct annual reviews and periodic on-site monitoring of programs authorized under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act, RSA has collaborated with VR agencies in the development of this MTAG. The objective of monitoring is to support VR agencies and RSA in improving results for individuals with disabilities seeking high-quality competitive integrated employment by responding to the unique needs and challenges of individual VR agencies. Fundamental to this monitoring approach are values shared by RSA and its State partners. RSA is committed to these values as it partners with VR agencies in the conduct of monitoring to foster continuous improvement in outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

Embodying these values, the FFY 2021 MTAG explains the process through which RSA will provide technical assistance to, and review the progress of, VR agencies in: 1) improving the quality of services for, and employment outcomes achieved by, individuals with disabilities, and 2) complying with requirements under the Rehabilitation Act. For more information about RSA's monitoring efforts and to view published monitoring reports, please visit Monitoring of the VR Program

(January 19, 2021)

FAQs related to Eligibility/Ineligibility of Youth with Disabilities Considering Subminimum Wage Employment

On January 12, 2021, RSA issued Frequently-Asked Questions: The Need for an Eligibility/Ineligibility Determination for VR Services for Youth Considering Subminimum Wage Employment Under Section 511 (FAQ 21-02). These FAQs support VR agencies in their continued implementation of the requirements for youth with disabilities under Section 511(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and respond to questions that RSA has received. Specifically, these FAQs address the application and eligibility determination processes under Section 102(a) of the Rehabilitation Act that a youth with a disability must satisfy when he or she chooses to pursue subminimum wage work (Section 511(a)(2)(B) of the Rehabilitation Act). As explained in detail through the questions and answers, youth who, through the exercise of informed choice, intend to pursue subminimum wage employment are not eligible for VR services because this outcome is not within the scope of employment outcomes allowable under the program.

(January 12, 2021)