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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Information Alert: ACL to Issue New Guidance on DSEs!

Back in June, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) issued sub-regulatory guidance related to state designation provisions in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The guidance gave the designated State entity (DSE) power to approve what is included in the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL), essentially giving the DSE veto power- which is not in line with the intent of WIOA.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingNCIL obtained a legal opinion from the law firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy, which found that ACL’s interpretation of the DSE’s role in the creation of the SPIL is wrong! Notably, they found that in WIOA, Congress revised language from the law’s previous version and intentionally removed the DSE from the development process. This clearly “created a process whereby the Statewide Independent Living Council and the Centers for Independent Living in a given state develop the SPIL.” The opinion states: “Congress has removed the designated State entity from the SPIL development process and limited it to carrying out statutorily-prescribed administrative duties. The designated State entity must agree to be responsible for these duties, which it signifies by signing the SPIL. In our opinion, nothing about the signature requirement bestows on a designated State entity the authority to approve or reject a SPIL on the basis of its provisions…Thus, the ACL’s apparent interpretation to the contrary is mistaken and is not entitled to deference.” Read the full opinion.

Today, after months of discussions and advocacy on this issue, NCIL and APRIL leadership met with Kathy Greenlee, Administrator of ACL, and several other ACL staff. We are extremely happy to announce that Administrator Greenlee told us that she is in agreement with our legal opinion, and that ACL will be issuing new guidance on this issue! We appreciate ACL’s willingness to reconsider their guidance and we expect ACL’s new guidance to clarify that the DSE’s signature indicates only their agreement to their duties, and that the creation and approval of the SPIL is the work of only the state’s SILC and CILs.

Congress saw the value of a consumer-directed SPIL when they changed the language in WIOA and the Rehabilitation Act. Thanks to the hard work and continued advocacy of NCIL members, we’re looking forward to finally seeing guidance that is in line with these values and the intent of the law! We will keep you updated as this moves forward and the new guidance is released.

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