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111th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     111-627

======================================================================


 
 AMENDING TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE, TO PROVIDE FOR QUALIFICATIONS 
FOR VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION COUNSELORS AND VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION 
 EMPLOYMENT COORDINATORS EMPLOYED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

                                _______
                                

 September 28, 2010.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Filner, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 5630]

  The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 5630) to amend title 38, United States Code, to 
provide for qualifications for vocational rehabilitation 
counselors and vocational rehabilitation employment 
coordinators employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, 
having considered the same, report favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     2
Hearings.........................................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     3
Committee Votes..................................................     3
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     3
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     4
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures     4
Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits.............................     4
Committee Cost Estimate..........................................     4
Congressional Budget Office Estimate.............................     4
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................     4
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     4
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     4
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     4
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     5
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     5

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 5630 was introduced on June 29, 2010, by 
Representative John Boozman of Arkansas, Ranking Member of the 
Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. H.R. 5630 seeks to set 
minimum professional qualifications for Vocational 
Rehabilitation Counselors and Vocational Rehabilitation 
Employment Coordinators within the Department of Veterans 
Affairs (VA). The bill would also require the Secretary of the 
VA to prescribe and enforce a remediation program for 
Counselors and Coordinators who do not meet or maintain such 
qualifications.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    To qualify for the VA Vocational, Rehabilitation, and 
Employment (VR&E;) program, a veteran must have a 20 percent 
service-connected disability rating and an employment handicap 
that has a substantial impact upon the veterans' ability to 
``prepare for, obtain, or retain employment consistent with 
such veteran's abilities, aptitudes, and interests.'' Veterans 
with a 10 percent service-connected disability rating which 
creates a ``serious employment handicap'' may also be eligible 
for VR&E; benefits.
    The VR&E; program includes:
           Comprehensive rehabilitation evaluation to 
        determine abilities, skills, and interests for 
        employment;
           Vocational counseling and rehabilitation 
        planning for employment services;
           Employment services such as job training, 
        job-seeking skills, resume development, and other work 
        readiness assistance;
           Assistance finding and keeping a job, 
        including the use of special employer incentives and 
        job accommodations for On-the-Job Training (OJT), 
        apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences;
           Post-secondary training at a college, 
        vocational, technical or business school;
           Supportive rehabilitation services including 
        case management, counseling, and medical referrals for 
        Independent Living services for veterans unable to work 
        due to the severity of their disabilities.
    To provide these services to disabled veterans requires a 
significant level of education and clinical training. A 
Government Accountability Office (GAO) report titled VA 
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment: Better Incentives, 
Workforce Planning, and Performance Reporting Could Improve 
Program (GAO 09-34, January 2009) stated that ``[i]n terms of 
skill shortages, almost one-third of the regional offices 
reported that the skills of their counselors no more than 
moderately meet the needs of the veterans they serve and almost 
one-third reported the same for their employment coordinators'' 
(GAO report at 17).
    Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors provide all initial 
testing and evaluation to assist a disabled veteran with 
placement in one of the five VR&E; tracks. VR&E; Counselors also 
provide continuing case management services while the veteran 
is participating in the program. Although it is the Committee's 
understanding that VA currently only hires rehabilitation 
counselors with master's degrees, there is no requirement to 
obtain or maintain professional certification in the field. 
H.R. 5630 would place such initial hiring qualifications in 
statute and require counselors to obtain and maintain 
certification of their counseling skills from a national 
accrediting organization within five years of employment at VA.
    VR&E; Employment Coordinators are responsible for assisting 
VR&E; participants with finding employment upon completion of 
the program of rehabilitation. This function also requires a 
level of skill and education to properly evaluate the skills 
and needs of disabled veterans completing VR&E.;
    H.R. 5630 would require that in order to be employed by the 
VA as a Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Coordinator, an 
individual must have completed a bachelor's degree in a 
relevant field, obtain certification within five years after 
being first employed by an accredited certifying body 
recognized by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, 
and maintain such certification as a condition of continued 
employment. In order to be employed as a Vocational 
Rehabilitation Counselor, an individual must have completed a 
master's degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling, obtain 
certification within five years after being first employed by 
an accredited certifying body recognized by the National 
Commission for Certifying Agencies, and maintain such 
certification as a condition of continued employment.
    H.R. 5630 also directs the Secretary to develop a 
remediation plan for counselors and coordinators who fail to 
meet these standards and to terminate any such employee who 
fails to meet the requirements of the tailored remediation 
plan.

                                Hearings

    The Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held two oversight 
hearings regarding the VA's Vocational Rehabilitation and 
Employment program during the 111th Congress on April 2, 2009, 
and May 6, 2010.

                        Committee Consideration

    On September 15, 2010, the full Committee met in an open 
markup session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 5630 
reported favorably to the House of Representatives, by voice 
vote.

                            Committee Votes

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires the Committee to list the record votes 
on the motion to report the legislation and amendments thereto. 
There were no record votes taken on amendments or in connection 
with ordering H.R. 5630 reported to the House. A motion by Mr. 
Buyer of Indiana to order H.R. 5630 reported favorably to the 
House of Representatives was agreed to by voice vote.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goals and objectives are reflected in the descriptive portions 
of this report.

   New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee will adopt as 
its own the estimate of new budget authority, entitlement 
authority, or tax expenditures or revenues contained in the 
cost estimate prepared by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974.

                  Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits

    H.R. 5630 does not contain any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives.

                        Committee Cost Estimate

    The Committee will adopt as its own the cost estimate on 
H.R. 5630 prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, a cost estimate for H.R. 5630 
provided by the Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 
402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 was not available 
when the Committee filed this report.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee will adopt as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 5630 prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 423 of the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

                      Advisory Committee Statement

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act would be created by H.R. 
5630.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that the 
Constitutional authority for H.R. 5630 is provided by Article 
I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United States.

                  Applicability to Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation


Section 1. Qualification for vocational rehabilitation counselors and 
        vocational rehabilitation employment coordinators employed by 
        the Department of Veterans Affairs

    This section would establish the completion of a master's 
degree as the minimum qualification to be hired by VA as an 
employment counselor and a bachelor's degree as the minimum 
qualification to be hired by VA as an employment eoordinator. 
This section also would require obtaining and maintaining 
national certification.
    This section also requires the Secretary of VA to tailor a 
remediation plan for counselors and coordinators who fail to 
meet or maintain such qualifications and to terminate those who 
do not successfully comply with a remediation program.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (new matter is 
printed in italic and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



PART III--READJUSTMENT AND RELATED BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


   CHAPTER 31--TRAINING AND REHABILITATION FOR VETERANS WITH SERVICE-
                         CONNECTED DISABILITIES

Sec.
3100. Purposes.
     * * * * * * *
3123. Qualifications for vocational rehabilitation counselors and 
          vocational rehabilitation employment coordinators.
     * * * * * * *

Sec. 3123. Qualifications for vocational rehabilitation counselors and 
                    vocational rehabilitation employment coordinators

  (a) Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors.--Each individual 
employed by the Department as a vocational rehabilitation 
counselor shall--
          (1) have completed a masters degree in vocational 
        rehabilitation counseling before being so employed;
          (2) by not later than five years after the individual 
        is first so employed, obtain certification by an 
        accredited certifying body recognized by the National 
        Commission for Certifying Agencies; and
          (3) as a condition of continued employment, maintain 
        such certification.
  (b) Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Coordinators.--Each 
individual employed by the Department as a vocational 
rehabilitation employment coordinator shall--
          (1) have completed a bachelors degree in the relevant 
        field, as designated by the Secretary, before being so 
        employed;
          (2) by not later than five years after the individual 
        is first so employed, obtain certification by an 
        accredited certifying body recognized by the National 
        Commission for Certifying Agencies; and
          (3) as a condition of continued employment, maintain 
        such certification.
  (c) Remediation Plan.--If an individual employed by the 
Department as a vocational rehabilitation counselor or a 
vocational rehabilitation employment coordinator fails to meet 
a condition of employment applicable to such individual under 
subsection (a) or (b), the Director of the Vocational 
Rehabilitation and Employment Service shall develop a 
remediation plan for such individual. If the individual fails 
to complete the remediation plan, such failure shall be cause 
for termination.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *