The Senate last week gave final approval to national-service legislation, clearing it for President Clinton's signature.
With little debate, the Senate approved the measure, HR 2010, by a largely partisan vote of 57 to 40. Six Republicans voted for the bill; four Democrats opposed it.
The legislation, a prized component of Mr. Clinton's domestic agenda, would allow young adults ages 17 and older to participate in community- and national-service projects in exchange for a post-service education or training benefit of $4,725 per year of service. Young people would be eligible to serve two years.
Participants would also be eligible for an in-service stipend and health- and child-care benefits.
President Clinton has characterized the program as a "domestic Peace Corps.''
The measure authorizes $300 million for the program's first year, the 1994-95 academic year, an amount that would underwrite the costs of about 20,000 participants.
The Education Department's $2 billion-a-year vocational-rehabilitation program serves only a fraction of those who are eligible, and participants' gains tend to fade, a new report by the General Accounting Office concludes.
The 950,000 disabled people who receive services under the program each year represent only 5 percent to 7 percent of the working-age population who qualify, the study says.
Although most participants tended to have severe disabilities, the services they received were "modest,'' costing an average of about $1,573 per person.
In the short run, the report says, most of those participants experienced gains in employment and in earnings.
The fraction of participants who were working shrank steadily, however, as the years went on. Of a sample of individuals involved in the program at the start of the 1980's, for example, only 61 percent to 66 percent reported any earnings in 1988.
Those who were working at the end of the decade, however, earned $2,052 to $4,592 a year more than they were before entering the program.
The Education Department has named a former official of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment who coordinated the preparation of several authoritative reports on electronic teaching aids to be its first special adviser on education technology.
In announcing the appointment of Linda G. Roberts to the new post earlier this month, Deputy Education Secretary Madeleine M. Kunin said her "vast experience'' would allow the agency to "take a strong leadership role'' in encouraging schools to effectively use electronic learning tools.
As a senior associate at the O.T.A., Ms. Roberts oversaw the drafting of Power On! New Tools for Teaching and Learning, a comprehensive overview of the use of computers and other technologies in the classroom; Linking for Learning, which discusses various, technology-based distance-learning programs; and, most recently, Adult Literacy and New Technologies: Tools for a Lifetime.
Before joining the O.T.A. in 1984, Ms. Roberts served for three years in the department's office of educational research and improvement.