(a) The commissioner shall direct all matters involving the department in conformance with state and federal law and the policies of the board.
(b) The commissioner shall perform the following specific duties:
(1) Enforce the rules and regulations of the board governing the department's services and programs.
(2) Appoint to positions of employment those professional, clerical, and other assistants, including specialists and consultants, on a full or part-time basis as may be needed. The number of employees, their qualifications, their compensation, and all other expenditures of the commissioner shall be within the limits of a budget approved by the board. The commissioner and all employees of the department shall be entitled to all benefits accruing to merit system employees including the right to accumulate leave and participate in the Teachers' Retirement System under the same terms and conditions as employees of the State Department of Education and the Alabama Community College System.
(3) Prepare, or cause to be prepared, an annual report to the board on activities of the department submitted on the first day of December, or as early thereafter as practicable, for its approval and adoption. The commissioner shall also prepare, or cause to be prepared, all other reports which are required of the board.
(4) Promulgate, with the approval of the board, regulations governing personnel standards, the protection of records and confidential information, the manner and form of filing applications for services, eligibility and investigation for rehabilitation services, procedures for due process, and other regulations necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter and to conform with state and federal law.
(5) Establish, with the approval of the board, appropriate subordinate administrative units within the department.
(6) Prepare and submit to the board and the Legislature annual reports of activities and expenditures and, before each regular session of the Legislature, coordinate budget requests required for administering this chapter, and provide estimates of the sums to be made available for this purpose from all sources.
(7) Supervise all institutions, offices, programs, and services now existing or hereafter acquired or created under the jurisdiction of the department.
(8) Certify the disbursement of available funds.
(9) Delegate, with the approval of the board, to any officer or employee of the department those powers and duties necessary to effectuate the purposes of this chapter.
(10) Prepare or cause to be prepared, and submit for approval and adoption by the board, legislative measures needed for the further development and improvement of rehabilitation services.
(11) Enter into contracts necessary for the department to carry out its functions. Any personal service contract must be approved by the Legislative Permanent Contract Review Committee prior to such contract becoming effective.
(12) Consult with and advise other state agencies to assist them in meeting the needs of disabled persons more effectively and to achieve maximum coordination among programs for people with disabilities.
(13) Establish advisory councils consistent with the needs of the board and the department.
(14) Support, assist, and cooperate with the Governor's committee on employment of persons with disabilities.
(15) Take any necessary or appropriate action for cooperation with public and private agencies and organizations which may include, but is not limited to the development of:
a. Reciprocal agreements with other states to provide for the vocational rehabilitation of individuals with the states concerned.
b. Contracts or other agreements with public and other nonprofit agencies and organizations for the construction or establishment and operation of community rehabilitation programs and facilities.
c. Cooperative agreements with the federal government for carrying out any federal requirements pertaining to disability and rehabilitation.
d. Requirements necessary to obtain federal funds in the maximum amount and the most advantageous proportion for the state as possible.
(16) Conduct research and demonstration projects, including inquiries concerning the causes of disability and its prevention; provide training and instruction, including the establishment and maintenance of research fellowships and traineeships along with all necessary stipends and allowances; disseminate information; and provide technical assistance relating to disability and rehabilitation.
(17) Plan, establish, and operate programs, facilities, and services relating to disability and rehabilitation.
(18) Establish a program of attendant care and home case management.
(19) Establish and provide consultative services for small business enterprises operated by persons with a substantial impediment to employment, including people who are blind.
(20) Appear before the Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Finances and Budget for not less than five consecutive years immediately following January 1, 1995.