[chap hd]State Financing Activities

By Clifford Warren,2014-04-13 05:58
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[chap hd]State Financing Activities ...

National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership

    Improving State Assistive Technology Programs

    Considerations for Effective Implementation

    State Financing Activities

    October 2006

    Providing Technical Assistance and Training to Programs

    funded under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended

    Improving State Assistive Technology Programs

    Considerations for Effective Implementation

    of State Financing Activities

    The Assistive Technology Act requires that (ii) support for the development of states support state financing activities either State-financed or privately financed directly or in collaboration with other entities. alternative financing systems of sub-Section 4(e)(2)(A) of the Assistive Technology sidies (which may include conducting Act as amended in 2004 states the following: an initial 1-year feasibility study of,

    improving, administering, operating,

    ―(A) STATE FINANCING ACTIVI-providing capital for, or collaborating

    with an entity with respect to, such a TIESThe State shall support State

    system) for the provision of assistive financing activities to increase access

    technology devices, such as to, and funding for, assistive technol-

    ogy devices and assistive technology

    services (which shall not include di-(I) a low-interest loan fund;

    rect payment for such a device or ser-(II) an interest buy-down program;

    vice for an individual with a disability (III) a revolving loan fund;

    but may include support and adminis-(IV) a loan guarantee or insurance

    tration of a program to provide such program;

    payment), including development of (V) a program providing for the pur-

    systems to provide and pay for such chase, lease, or other acquisition of as-

    devices and services, for targeted in-sistive technology devices or assistive

    dividuals and entities described in sec-technology services; or

    tion 3(16)(A), including (VI) another mechanism that is ap-

    proved by the Secretary.‖

     (i) support for the development of sys-

    Many states established Alternative Financing tems for the purchase, lease, or other

    Programs that meet the requirement for state acquisition of, or payment for, assis-

    financing activities. In addition, states have tive technology devices and assistive

    explored other activities that could address the technology services; or

    requirements of the act. This paper reports on National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership 1

    Considerations for Effective Implementation of State Financing Activities some of these activities as shared by states in a financing program (AFP). Descriptions of series to two conference calls hosted by the some of those programs are included. The list National Assistive Technology Technical As-is not inclusive of all activities being con-sistance Partnership (NATTAP) on April 14, ducted in all the states. Other than AFPs, some 2005, and April 27, 2005. of the activities highlighted by states included

     the following: Cooperative Buying Program Features of an Effective State (Maryland), Individual Development Ac-Financing Activity counts (Kansas), Partnerships for Coordina-

     tion of Agency Services (Nebraska), and Last State financing activities directly assist indi-Resort Fund (Illinois and Virginia). viduals with the acquisition of assistive tech- nology (AT) devices or services by reducing Other than AFPs, the inclusion of an activity the cost of AT or developing alternative on this list does not imply that the Rehabilita-sources of funding for AT. Good state financ-tion Services Administration has approved of ing activities approach funding is a systemat-this activity as a state financing activity that ic manner and are activities that are sustained meets the requirements of the AT Act. over time. State financing activities include the development of systems that do the fol-Cooperative Buying Program lowing: (Maryland)

    1. Provide for the purchase, lease, or other ac-Background quisition of, or payment for, AT devices and services using AT Act funds. The Maryland Assistive Technology Coopera-2. Support the development of state-financed or tive is a program of Assistive Technology: privately financed alternative financing systems. Loans, Acquisitions, Services, and Training, 3. Are statewide and serve individuals with Inc. (AT:LAST, Inc.), that provides dis-disabilities of all ages. counted purchasing and training opportunities 4. Can be measured (data can be collected on to schools, agencies, organizations and fami-users). lies. With initial funding and support from the 5. Do not include direct payment for devices Maryland Technology Assistance Program and services with AT Act funds. (Governor’s Office for Individuals with Dis-

    6. Include support and administration of a abilities), the Maryland State Department of program that provides payment for, and acqui-Education Division of Special Education, and sition of, AT. the Maryland Developmental Disabilities

     Council, the Cooperative uses the combined Descriptions of Ideas for State purchasing power of Maryland’s schools to Financing Activities make AT more affordable.

    The National Assistive Technology Technical AT:LAST, Inc., was formed as a 501(c)3 non-Assistance Partnership (NATTAP) conducted profit organization in 1998 by the Maryland a series of conference calls with state AT Act Technology Assistance Program (MDTAP) in programs to provide a forum for the exchange response to several focus groups that sought to of ideas on activities that might be considered determine why students were not receiving the state financing activities. States shared their assistive technologies to which they were legally ideas and offered potential state financing ac-entitled under IDEA. The overwhelming focus tivities other than the traditional alternative group response was ―the high cost.‖ To tackle National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership 2

    Considerations for Effective Implementation of State Financing Activities that issue, MDTAP provided the seed money to head low (paying minimal rent, advertising, etc.), establish a nonprofit organization that does not and it gets permission from numerous manufac-depend on funding from the Assistive Technol-turers to hold ―statewide‖ versions of ―district‖

    ogy Act and is free to operate without typical licenses, thus allowing small systems to benefit governmental bureaucratic delays and issues. from the purchase levels of large systems.

    By March 1999, AT:LAST had established the The Co-op realizes savings for its members by Maryland A.T. Cooperative buying service to conducting competitive bids, negotiating di-combine the purchasing power of Maryland rectly with manufacturers, and entering into a schools so it could reduce the high cost of AT. limited number of reseller agreements. The The rapid success of this service has led to Co-op attaches a small percentage to the pric-AT:LAST, Inc., being identified as the ―MD es it obtains to sustain its operation. While the A.T. Co-op,‖ although it performs many addi-Co-op occasionally receives grants from go-tional services, including a comprehensive vernmental agencies, those grants are for the training program, short-term device loan pro-performance of particular, time-limited func-gram, student evaluations on a limited basis, tions and are separate from the general opera-and public awareness activities. tion of the purchasing Co-op.

    The goals of the program are the following: The success of the cooperative buying function

     is the clear result of cooperative and collabora-1. To see more product, properly used, in the tive relationships with both its members and hands of individuals with disabilities. the AT communitymanufacturers, vendors,

    2. To train parents and professionals shoulder-academics, consumers, and practitioners. It is to-shoulder in the appropriate use and integra-also a reflection of the unique bidding process. tion of products. 3. To make individuals and institutions aware Unlike most governmental or educational enti-of the continuum of assistive technologies that ties that seek guaranteed pricing for a period are available so that they can properly select of 3 to 5 years, the Co-op seeks pricing for a technologies to best support individual needs. 6-month period. This timing protects the bid-4. To work closely with manufacturers to pro-der from unpredictable manufacturer cost in-vide product development feedback and to be creases and recognizes factors that are unique sufficiently knowledgeable to answer ques-to the technology market (i.e., short upgrade tions from consumers. periods, declining costs, and rapid new-5. To support its members with accurate and product introduction). Bids are sought on a up-to-date information about products, strate-range of quantities to accommodate both large gies, professional development opportunities, and small members (typically, less than 5, be-and human and AT resources. tween 5 and 24, and 25 and more). This strat-

     egy yields good pricing for members while it

    protects bidders from offering in anticipation Operations

    of quantities that may or may not materialize.

    All discounted orders go through the MD A.T. Co-op at rates published twice yearly. The Co-op A simple and transparent process (the bidder serves as a ―reseller‖ to offer the best pricing on bids and returns only applicable sheets; certain product lines where margins are small. there is no need to provide pictures and To bring discounted products to consumers, product descriptions, and there are no need-schools, and agencies, the Co-op keeps its over-less pages of ―boilerplate‖), the Co-op’s me-

    National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership 3

    Considerations for Effective Implementation of State Financing Activities thod reduces paperwork and valuable time 5. Laptop computers are available at Co-op used for completing and returning bids. events so participants can try software pro-Processing is 98% completed the day after grams for themselves. Similarly, the majority

    closing. Results are known by winners with-of software programs have been donated by in a week. (It takes only one additional day manufacturers or vendors. to notify those without any winning bids.) 6. The Co-op produces and distributes a copy Bids are advertised in a major local newspa-of its "Discounted Price List" to every Mary-per, by fax notification, and on the Web site. land public school, to each member of the Bids are returned by fax, thereby saving Maryland Association of Non-Public Special time and registered mail expenses. Education Facilities, and to many organiza-

     tions and agencies. The easy process, quick notification, and poli-7. The Co-op exhibits at several statewide cy of not holding a bidder to a price if the bid-conferences each year to make individuals and der can document a manufacturer’s price groups aware of the potential for assistive increase is reason enough to do business with technologies and of its service for acquiring the Co-op. But the Co-op’s position is that it them. needs to provide more to the participating 8. The Co-op supports the use of the products vendors in return for the discounts they offer with training sessions and comparative prod-to its members. Therefore, the Co-op offers uct expos. the following in return:

     What the Co-op Does for Its Customers 1. All orders are ―pre-processed.‖ Clarification is sought about platform, cable type, and so The Co-op provides several services to its forth, before a Co-op purchase order leaves customers: the office, thus saving manufacturers or ven- dors the time and inconvenience of providing 1. The Co-op negotiates directly with and con-additional required information. ducts semi-annual bids with more than 50 manu-2. Within 30 days of receipt of merchandise, facturers and vendors of AT to get the best price. 100% of invoices are paid. This practice helps 2. The Co-op allows participants to put items the collaborating merchant avoid cash flow and from multiple manufacturers on a single pur-collection issues because the Co-op waits for the chase order for efficiency and economy. more historically slow-paying school systems. 3. Parents and individuals with disabilities can 3. Product catalogs and demonstration disks participate in cooperative purchasing of AT are transported and distributed at all Co-op software or devices needed at home or in the events. The Co-op does not ―promote‖ any community. The Co-op works closely with the product over another; instead it seeks to make Maryland AT Guaranteed Loan Fund so that the public aware of the continuum of devices individuals can get the lowest possible cost and software programs available. plus the lowest possible interest rate when fi-4. Sample products are displayed at all Co-op nancing the purchase of AT. events. Some of the samples have been pur-4. The Co-op displays and distributes manu-chased by the Co-op as sale or loan inventory. facturer’s catalogs, demonstration disks, and Many of the display items have been donated so forth, at training events open to the public. to the Co-op for the purpose of allowing the 5. The Co-op brings nationally renowned public to examine them more closely before speakers to Maryland for quality professional purchase. Items are regularly made available development activities, many of which pro-by both large and small companies. vide professional continuing education units, National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership 4

    Considerations for Effective Implementation of State Financing Activities from the Maryland State Department of Edu-Easter Seals, Head Start, Garrett Spe-cation and other organizations. cial Needs Children, Lion’s Club, 6. The Co-op assists local school systems in Maryland Disability in Higher Educa-