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

Selection of the Designated State Entity (DSE)



Program Information

ILA PI-15-01

Issued: June 5, 2015


Selection of the Designated State Entity (DSE)


Section 704 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as Amended

Designated State Entity in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

The Independent Living Administration (ILA) provides the following guidance concerning the Designated State Entity (DSE) based on questions received.  As part of the changes to the Rehabilitation Act (Rehab Act or Act) under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) the term “designated state entity (DSE)” replaced the term “designated State unit (DSU).”   The DSE is the agency that acts on behalf of the State for Title VII Part B programs and to Part C programs administered by the State under Section 723 of the Act.  The general responsibilities of the DSE are:

  • To receive, account for, and disburse funds received by the State, based on the State Plan for Independent Living;
  • To  provide administrative support services; and
  • To keep required records and provide appropriate information to ACL.

The State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) must designate the DSE.  Under WIOA, the SPIL is jointly developed by the chairperson of the Statewide Independent Living Council, and the directors of the Centers for Independent Living in the State, after receiving public input from individuals with disabilities and other stakeholders throughout the State.  The SPIL is signed by the chair of the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC or Council), acting on behalf of and at the direction of the Council, the director of the DSE and at least 51 percent of the directors of the centers for independent living in the State.  As a practical matter, this means that the DSE must agree to the terms of the SPIL and to fulfill all of the DSE responsibilities set forth in the law.  ACL encourages States to involve the DSE in the SPIL process.

All States currently have an approved SPIL that remains effective through fiscal year 2016.  The SPIL continues to govern the provision of Independent Living Services in the State.  Each State is expected to continue its support, including specified obligations, for an approved SPIL.  A SPIL amendment is required when there are significant, material and/or substantive changes to the information in the SPIL.  The change of a Designated State Entity (DSE) to administer IL programs in the State requires a SPIL amendment, as ACL stated in previous Q & As.[See Footnote 1]

Under the current law, there is no requirement that a State make a change in the DSE. States that are contemplating a change in their DSE must ensure that the new DSE is capable and willing to carry out the legal and fiscal responsibilities of the DSE role and to agree to the terms of the SPIL.  ACL encourages States to involve the current and prospective DSE, Statewide Independent Living Councils and Centers for Independent Living in discussions around the designation of a State entity to receive and administer Independent Living Services funds.

State Plan Amendment Process

A state legislature or governor may initiate and approve a request to change a DSE; however that change can only be effectuated when it is designated in the SPIL.  As noted, a change of the DSE is a substantial and material change that requires an amendment of the SPIL.

Amendments to the SPIL must be submitted by the State to ACL. Required steps include:

  • States must hold public hearings to solicit input from individuals with disabilities and other stakeholders in the State.
  • Amendments must be signed by three parties: the chair of the SILC, acting on behalf of and at the direction of the SILC; the director of the DSE; and not less than 51 percent of the directors of the Centers in the State.

Before amending the SPIL, States should send a SPIL amendment request by email to their assigned IL Specialist.  The SPIL amendment request should include, at a minimum:

  • The section(s) of the SPIL that the State proposes to amend, including both the existing approved language and the proposed amendment(s),
  • Anticipated timelines for each step, including public hearings and final submission,
  • Whether there will be a change in how funding is made available to the SILC resource plan,[See Footnote 2] SILC placement, and staffing,
  • A statement regarding whether the changes fundamentally impact how the State intends to operate its IL programs,
  • A citation to or copy of any applicable State law or Executive Order that forms the basis for the proposed SPIL amendment, and
  • A statement confirming that the SILC chair, at least 51 percent of the Center directors in the State and the DSE director agree with the proposed SPIL amendment language and their signatures.

All requests and attachments for the SPIL amendment process should be submitted in accessible PDF formats or as Word documents.

ILA encourages States to submit proposed SPIL amendment language for review before seeking stakeholder input through public hearings.  Once all appropriate steps have been completed, including the public hearing for a SPIL amendment and the signatures of the appropriate parties, States should contact their assigned IL Specialist for instructions on final processes.

Additional Information

ACL is in the process of developing a proposed regulation to implement the relevant provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, and ILA will continue to issue guidance as needed.

[Footnote 1] ACL, “Selected Q & A from WIOA Webinars” (doc.x) (last visited June 2, 2015).

[Footnote 2] Under WIOA, the Council prepares its resource plan in conjunction with the DSE.