RSA Quarterly Conference Call
May 12, 2011
Approximately forty representatives of State Licensing Agencies (SLAs)
and Elected Committees of Blind Vendors called in for this quarterly
meeting. Dan Frye, staff with the Rehabilitation Services Administration
(RSA), entertained introductions and thanked all for participating.
Dan Frye began the conference call with an update from RSA. The
following items were covered in greater or lesser detail:
Dan reported that correspondence from the Government Services
Administration (GSA) confirmed that the healthy vending guidelines
that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) promoted
are encouraged but not mandatory.
Dan reported that RSA and representatives of the National Council of
State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) are working closely with the
Indiana SLA to combat potential misinterpretation of Department of
Defense (DOD) vending regulations.
Dan reported that RSA has tentatively scheduled a monitoring visit of
the New Mexico SLA for August 2011.
Dan reported that RSA is working with the California SLA and the
regional GSA office in San Francisco, California, to mediate
differences between these entities prior to a case going to full-fledged
Dan reported on RSA’s initiatives to reach out and cultivate further
relations with our Federal partners during the last quarter.
Specifically, details were offered on RSA meetings with
representatives of GSA and DOD responsible for the national
administration of the Randolph-Sheppard program in these agencies.
Dan announced that Suzette Haynes has been tasked with formalizing
RSA’s Federal partnering initiatives with other agencies in the
government in relation to Randolph-Sheppard.
Dan announced tentative planning for some full food-service military
training in the Randolph-Sheppard arena to prepare a small cadre of
people around the country to be better able to respond to such
questions and to develop a core of people able to present at a potential
conference concentrating on this topic in 2012.
Dan reported that members of RSA’s staff were pleased to join
representatives of NCSAB during its semiannual meeting in
Bethesda, Maryland, in April 2011.
Suzanne Mitchell, RSA staff, announced that opportunities to submit
comments on the revised RS-15 form were still open.
Suzanne Mitchell also announced that this would be her last
Randolph-Sheppard conference call in which she would directly
participate due to having recently received a promotion to the position
of Unit Chief in the Technical Assistance Unit here at RSA. She said
she leaves involvement with Randolph-Sheppard with mixed
Suzette Haynes, RSA staff, disclosed that fifteen arbitrations are
currently pending in different stages of the process. Seven of these
represent vendors filing arbitrations against SLAs; eight of these
represent SLAs filing arbitrations against different property
Suzette Haynes also reminded SLAs that they must share any
amendments to their Randolph-Sheppard rules with her here at RSA,
before they could be codified, published, and deemed to be in force.
Dan Frye conveyed apologies on behalf of Terry Smith, NCSAB Randolph-
Sheppard chairman, who was unable to make the call this month. Terry was
doing Randolph-Sheppard-related work in Ohio. Terry urged, however, that
all SLA Randolph-Sheppard directors join him for the NCSAB monthly
conference call to be updated on the organization’s efforts.
Dan Frye introduced Nicky Gacos, president of the National Association of
Blind Merchants (NABM), and Dan Sippl, president of the Randolph-
Sheppard Vendors of America (RSVA), for their consumer organization
updates. Nicky promoted work being undertaken to prepare for BLAST
Plus, a dynamic conference to be held in Nashville, Tennessee, from
September 21-24, 2011. He noted that over seventy vendors would be
present, that the curriculum would cater to more than just Randolph-
Sheppard participants, and that many surprises are being planned. Nicky
invited all interested to the NFB convention in Orlando, Florida from July 3-
Dan Sippl spoke of RSVA’s plans for its convention in Reno, Nevada from
July 9-16 and said that the theme would concentrate on the Randolph-
Sheppard program’s seventy-fifth anniversary. He also said that RSVA had
been working on rebate programs for many of its vendors to increase their
Dan Frye introduced Sean Whalen of Linchpin Strategies, a consulting
company with whom NCSAB contracts, to offer some feedback in Terry’s
absence. Sean mentioned that a potential threat to highway vending from
private commercialization efforts may come to pass in the reauthorization of
the Surface Transportation Act pending in Congress. While no certainty
about this exists as yet, people were encouraged to standby for talking points
to combat this possible concern. Similarly, Sean reported that a template for
comments on the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vending rules
would be forthcoming from NCSAB soon for use by vendors and SLAs.
Dan Frye closed the conference call by inviting general round-table
feedback. The following issues were discussed:
Lockett Phillips, Randolph-Sheppard director in Indiana, asked about
the inconsistent practices of different United States Postal Service
(USPS) facilities being reluctant to give Randolph-Sheppard vendors
badges to facilitate easy operation at these locations. He urged that a
letter be issued nationally to all USPS locations addressing this topic.
Dan Frye outlined the existing policy as it is currently understood and
promised to investigate the issue further.
Participants on the conference call alerted the community to efforts to
jeopardize the Randolph-Sheppard priority in Texas. While a
frightening prospect, the ultimate report was that, as a result of
cooperative grassroots efforts, the threat was neutralized.
The call was adjourned at 3:49 p.m.