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mately $70 million be moved from the U.S. Department of Education to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and that it serve as the foundation for the creation of a new Agency on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (ADRR). ADRR would assume the tasks that were formerly assigned to the Interagency Committee on Disability Research and be given enhanced authority through review of disability and rehabilitation-related research plans and control of funding for interagency collaboration. To further support and enhance the overall federal effort, all major programs in disability and rehabilitation-related research should be elevated within their respective agencies or departments. (Recommendation 10.1)
There are several advantages and benefits to be gained from moving NIDRR to DHHS. First of all, the move would be an opportunity to review the program's mission and personnel, and make appropriate changes to the program's structure. Secondly, it would move NIDRR closer administratively to NIH and CDC, which should facilitate coordination among the agencies. Finally, it would allow improvements in the peer review process, including larger, more permanent peer review panels that could be formed to allow for the review of a more heterogeneous mix of applications, and broader representation (including people with disabling conditions) on the review panels. In addition, moving NIDRR from the U.S. Department of Education to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would provide the program with a more nurturing and supportive environment, raise the visibility of disability and rehabilitation as an important health issue, and perhaps most importantly, allow it to serve more effectively as the core of an interagency coordinating body for disability and rehabilitation-related research.
One of the most important activities of ADRR would be the coordination of federal research on rehabilitation science and engineering. To help achieve this objective, ADRR would annually review plans for research in the following year submitted by all relevant agencies and would also have the ability both to fund interagency research and to enhance funding in areas of identified need. To help ensure participation in the coordinating activities, ADRR could be supported in part by a set-aside fund from the major agencies and by direct appropriation.
In keeping with the committee's task of making recommendations within differing levels of fiscal expenditure, Table 2 presents guidance on how funds could be distributed in a configuration of programs consistent with this committee's recommendations. The table shows the present funding levels and two options for expanded programs of research at a cost of $100 million and $200 million.