H.R. 4057 (112th): Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2012

112th Congress, 2011–2013. Text as of Sep 10, 2012 (Reported by House Committee).

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Union Calendar No. 464

112th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4057

[Report No. 112–646]

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 16, 2012

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

September 10, 2012

Additional sponsors: Ms. Hanabusa, Ms. McCollum, Mr. Michaud, Mr. Owens, Mr. Gene Green of Texas, Ms. Pingree of Maine, Mr. Higgins, Mr. Cassidy, Mr. Lipinski, Mr. Culberson, Mr. Jackson of Illinois, Mr. Carter, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Filner, Mrs. McCarthy of New York, Ms. Bordallo, Mr. Ryan of Ohio, Mr. Rush, Mr. Calvert, Mr. McKinley, Mr. Holt, Mr. Hanna, Ms. Hirono, Mr. Cicilline, and Mr. Rangel

September 10, 2012

Reported with an amendment, committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed

Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the part printed in italic

For text of introduced bill, see copy of bill as introduced on February 16, 2012


A BILL

To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop a comprehensive policy to improve outreach and transparency to veterans and members of the Armed Forces through the provision of information on institutions of higher learning, and for other purposes.


1.

Comprehensive policy on providing education information to veterans

(a)

Comprehensive policy required

(1)

In general

Chapter 36 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

3698.

Comprehensive policy on providing education information to veterans

(a)

Comprehensive policy required

The Secretary shall develop a comprehensive policy to improve outreach and transparency to veterans and members of the Armed Forces through the provision of information on institutions of higher learning.

(b)

Scope

In developing the policy required by subsection (a), the Secretary shall include each of the following elements:

(1)

The most effective way to inform individuals of the educational and vocational counseling provided under section 3697A of this title.

(2)

A centralized way to track and publish feedback from students and State approving agencies regarding the quality of instruction and accreditation, recruiting practices, and post-graduation employment placement of institutions of higher learning.

(3)

The merit of and the manner in which a State approving agency shares with an accrediting agency or association recognized by the Secretary of Education under subpart 2 of part H of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1099b et seq.) information regarding the State approving agency’s evaluation of an institution of higher learning.

(4)

The manner in which information regarding institutions of higher learning is provided to individuals participating in the Transition Assistance Program under section 1144 of title 10.

(5)

The most effective way to provide veterans and members of the Armed Forces with information regarding postsecondary education and training opportunities available to the veteran or member.

(c)

Postsecondary education information

(1)

The Secretary shall ensure that the information provided pursuant to subsection (b)(5) includes—

(A)

an explanation of the different types of accreditation available to educational institutions and programs of education;

(B)

a description of Federal student aid programs; and

(C)

for each institution of higher learning, for the most recent academic year for which information is available—

(i)

whether the institution is public, private nonprofit, or proprietary for-profit;

(ii)

the name of the national or regional accrediting agency that accredits the institution, including the contact information used by the agency to receive complaints from students;

(iii)

information on the State approving agency, including the contact information used by the agency to receive complaints from students;

(iv)

whether the institution participates in programs under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070 et seq.);

(v)

the tuition and fees;

(vi)

the median amount of debt from Federal student loans under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070 et seq.) held by students at institution;

(vii)

the cohort default rate, as defined in section 435(m) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1085(m)), of the institution;

(viii)

the enrollment rates, graduation rates, and retention rates;

(ix)

for each program of education offered by the institution that is designed to prepare a student for an occupation that requires a licensure or certification test offered by a Federal, State, or local government or has other preconditions or requirements, the degree to which the program prepares the student for the particular occupation;

(x)

whether the institution provides students with technical support, academic support, and other support services, including career counseling and job placement; and

(xi)

whether the institution accepts academic credit by students who are transferring to the institution, including credits awarded by a proprietary for-profit institution.

(2)

To the extent possible, the Secretary shall provide the information described in paragraph (1) by including hyperlinks on the Internet website of the Department to other websites that contain such information in a form that is comprehensive and easily understood by veterans, members, and other individuals.

(d)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

The term institution of higher learning has the meaning given that term in section 3452(f) of this title.

(2)

The term postsecondary education and training opportunities means any postsecondary program of education, including apprenticeships and on-job training, for which the Secretary of Veterans Affairs provides assistance to a veteran or member of the Armed Forces.

.

(2)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding after the item relating to section 3697A the following new item:

3698. Comprehensive policy on providing education information to veterans.

.

(b)

Prohibition on inducements

Section 3696 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(e)

The Secretary shall not approve an educational institution if the educational institution provides any commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based directly or indirectly on success in securing enrollments or financial aid to any persons or entities engaged in any student recruiting or admission activities or in making decisions regarding the award of student financial assistance.

.

(c)

Survey

In developing the policy required by section 3698(a) of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a), the Secretary shall conduct a market survey to determine the availability of the following:

(1)

A commercially available off-the-shelf online tool that allows a veteran or member of the Armed Forces to assess whether the veteran or member is academically ready to engage in postsecondary education and training opportunities and whether the veteran or member would need any remedial preparation before beginning such opportunities.

(2)

A commercially available off-the-shelf online tool that provides a veteran or member of the Armed Forces with a list of providers of postsecondary education and training opportunities based on criteria selected by the veteran or member.

(d)

Report

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate a report that includes—

(1)

a description of the policy developed by the Secretary under section 3698(a) of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a);

(2)

a plan of the Secretary to implement such policy; and

(3)

the results of the survey conducted under subsection (b), including whether the Secretary plans to implement the tools described in such subsection.

(e)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

The term commercially available off-the-shelf has the meaning given that term in section 104 of title 41, United States Code.

(2)

The term postsecondary education and training opportunities means any postsecondary program of education, including apprenticeships and on-job training, for which the Secretary of Veterans Affairs provides assistance to a veteran or member of the Armed Forces.

2.

State consideration of military training in granting certain State certifications and licenses as a condition on the receipt of funds for veterans employment and training

(a)

In general

Section 4102A(c) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

(9)
(A)

As a condition of a grant or contract under which funds are made available to a State in order to carry out section 4103A or 4104 of this title for any program year, the Secretary shall require the State to disclose to the Secretary in writing the following:

(i)

Criteria applicants must satisfy to receive a certification or license described in subparagraph (B) by the State.

(ii)

A description of the standard practices of the State for evaluating training received by veterans while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces and evaluating the documented work experience of such veterans during such service for purposes of approving or denying a certification or license described in subparagraph (B).

(iii)

Identification of areas in which training and experience described in clause (ii) fails to meet criteria described in clause (i).

(B)

A certification or license described in this subparagraph is any of the following:

(i)

A license to be a nonemergency medical professional.

(ii)

A license to be an emergency medical professional.

(iii)

Any commercial driver’s license.

(C)

The Secretary shall share the information the Secretary receives under subparagraph (A)(ii) with the Secretary of Defense to help the Secretary of Defense improve training for military occupational specialties so that individuals who receive such training are able to receive a certification or license described in subparagraph (B) from a State.

(D)

The Secretary shall publish on the Internet website of the Department—

(i)

any guidance the Secretary gives the Secretary of Defense with respect to carrying out this section; and

(ii)

any information the Secretary receives from a State pursuant to subparagraph (A).

.

(b)

Effective date

The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to a program year beginning on or after October 1, 2013.

3.

Conditions on the award of per diem payments by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for the provision of housing or services to homeless veterans

(a)

Condition

(1)

In general

Paragraph (1) of section 2012(c) of title 38, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

(1)

Except as provided in paragraph (2), a per diem payment may not be provided under this section to a grant recipient or eligible entity unless the entity submits to the Secretary a certification that the building where the entity provides such housing or services is in compliance with codes relevant to the operations and level of care provided, including the most current Life Safety Code or International Fire Code and all applicable State and local housing codes, licensing requirements, fire and safety requirements, and any other requirements in the jurisdiction in which the project is located regarding the condition of the structure and the operation of the supportive housing or service center.

.

(2)

Effective date

The amendment made by paragraph (1) shall apply with respect to an application for a per diem payment under section 2012 of title 38, United States Code, submitted on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(b)

Annual report

Section 2065(b) of title 38, United States Code, is amended—

(1)

by redesignating paragraph (6) as paragraph (7); and

(2)

by inserting after paragraph (5) the following new paragraph (6):

(6)

The Secretary’s evaluation of the safety and accessibility of facilities used to provide programs established by grant recipients or eligible entities under section 2011 and 2012 of this title, including the number of such grant recipients or eligible entities who have submitted a certification under section 2012(c)(1).

.

(c)

Treatment of current recipients

In the case of the recipient of a per diem payment under section 2012 of title 38, United States Code, that receives such a payment during the year in which this Act is enacted, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall require the recipient to submit the certification required under section 2012(c)(1) of such title, as amended by subsection (a)(1), by not later than two years after the date of the enactment of this Act. If the recipient fails to submit such certification by such date, the Secretary may not make any additional per diem payments to the recipient under such section 2012 until the recipient submits such certification.

4.

Establishment of Open Burn Pit Registry

(a)

Establishment of registry

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall—

(1)

establish and maintain an open burn pit registry for eligible individuals who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes caused by open burn pits;

(2)

include any information in such registry that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs determines necessary to ascertain and monitor the health effects of the exposure of members of the Armed Forces to toxic chemicals and fumes caused by open burn pits;

(3)

develop a public information campaign to inform eligible individuals about the open burn pit registry, including how to register and the benefits of registering; and

(4)

periodically notify eligible individuals of significant developments in the study and treatment of conditions associated with exposure to toxic chemicals and fumes caused by open burn pits.

(b)

Report to congress

(1)

Report by independent scientific organization

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall enter into an agreement with an independent scientific organization to develop a report containing the following:

(A)

An assessment of the effectiveness of actions taken by the Secretaries to collect and maintain information on the health effects of exposure to toxic chemicals and fumes caused by open burn pits.

(B)

Recommendations to improve the collection and maintenance of such information.

(C)

Using established and previously published epidemiological studies, recommendations regarding the most effective and prudent means of addressing the medical needs of eligible individuals with respect to conditions that are likely to result from exposure to open burn pits.

(2)

Submittal to Congress

Not later than 18 months after the date on which the registry under subsection (a) is established, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to Congress the report developed under paragraph (1).

(c)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

The term open burn pit means an area of land located in Afghanistan or Iraq that—

(A)

is designated by the Secretary of Defense to be used for disposing solid waste by burning in the outdoor air; and

(B)

does not contain a commercially manufactured incinerator or other equipment specifically designed and manufactured for the burning of solid waste.

(2)

The term eligible individual means any individual who, on or after September 11, 2001—

(A)

was deployed in support of a contingency operation while serving in the Armed Forces; and

(B)

during such deployment, was based or stationed at a location where an open burn pit was used.

5.

Performance awards in the Senior Executive Service

For each of fiscal years 2013 through 2017, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs may not pay more than $1,000,000 in performance awards under section 5384 of title 5, United States Code.

September 10, 2012

Reported with an amendment, committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed