Vocational Rehabilitation:

Improved Federal Leadership Could Help States Focus Services on Those With Severe Handicaps

T-HRD-91-10: Published: Sep 26, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 26, 1991.

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GAO discussed the order-of-selection provision in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, focusing on: (1) why most states do not use the order of selection; (2) how states have implemented the provision; and (3) how the Department of Education ensures that states comply with the order-of-selection provision. GAO noted that: (1) more than half the states had never used order of selection; (2) officials in 11 of the non-order-of-selection states visited did not implement order of selection because they could serve all eligible applicants; (3) many states used case-load management techniques to limit applicants; (4) some state and federal officials were concerned that if the percentage of clients with severe handicaps was high, relatively few people with non-severe handicaps would receive any services; (5) the nine order of selection states felt that the order of selection was an effective procedure to prioritize services to those with severe handicaps and was an effective way to manage limited resources; and (6) the order-of-selection states did not share non-order-of-selection states' concerns regarding burdens and inequities, since administrative burdens were minimal and the non-purchased services provided to less severely handicapped persons were very important; and (7) the Rehabilitation Services Administration has not provided adequate guidance and oversight to help states implement order of selection.

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