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.
What's New in RSA
RSA Quarterly Teleconference with VR Agencies
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 Reports; WIOA Unified and Combined State Plans; VR Program Monitoring Reports; Randolph-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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PY 2019 WIOA Annual Reports for the VR Program
On January 11, 2021, RSA published the PY 2019 WIOA Annual Reports and notified the leadership of Congressional committees. In addition to information related to participant characteristics and barriers to employment, the national summary and State VR program reports include performance results for five WIOA performance indicators:
- Measurable Skill Gains (MSG) Rate;
- Employment Rate in the Second Quarter after Exit;
- Median Earnings in the Second Quarter after Exit;
- Employment Rate in the Fourth Quarter after Exit; and
- Credential Attainment Rate
The sixth indicator, Effectiveness in Serving Employers (ESE), remained in pilot during PY 2019. RSA will notify VR agencies and stakeholders when the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration publishes the PY 2019 WIOA Annual Reports, for the title I and III programs, that include the ESE results inclusive of all six core programs. The PY 2019 reports represent the third set of WIOA Annual Reports that RSA has published for the VR program; reports for PYs 2017 and 2018 are also available here.
Notice Inviting Applications: Career Advancement Initiative Model Demonstration Project
On January 7, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education issued a notice inviting applications for FY 2021 for the Disability Innovation Fund: Career Advancement Initiative Model Demonstration Project (84.421C). The application deadline is April 7, 2021.
The Department intends to fund a multi-site model demonstration project designed to assist VR agencies, in partnership with other entities, to develop career pathways focused on career advancement. This competition will help VR-eligible individuals with disabilities, including previously served VR participants in employment who re-enter the VR program, to advance in high-demand, high-quality careers, such as science, technology, engineering, and math, including computer science, careers; to enter career pathways in industry-driven sectors through pre-apprenticeships, registered apprenticeships and Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program; to improve and maximize competitive integrated employment outcomes, economic self-sufficiency, independence, and inclusion in society; and to reduce reliance on public benefits (e.g., Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Insurance, and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and State or local benefits).
Please review the Federal Register Notice and the Application Package. Information is also available on the NCRTM. RSA will conduct a pre-application meeting specific to this competition on January 28, 2021 at 2:00PM to respond to questions. Please register for the meeting here and email questions to 84.421C@ed.gov in advance.
Active Participation of ECVBs with SLAs in the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program
On December 15, 2020, RSA issued TAC-21-01: "Active Participation of Elected Committees of Blind Vendors with State Licensing Agencies in the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program" in response to several inquiries from State licensing agencies (SLAs) and Elected Committees of Blind Vendors (ECBVs) under the Randolph-Sheppard Act seeking guidance regarding issues related to the active participation of the ECBV in the major administrative and policy decisions affecting the operation of the vending facility program in the States. While there is flexibility on how each State may fulfill its obligation to ensure that active participation occurs with the ECBV in the respective State, RSA provides TAC 21-01 to SLAs and ECBVs to outline the Federal requirements governing active participation and clarify Federal requirements for SLAs and ECBVs, including examples of major administrative decisions and policy and program development where active participation is required.