Feasibility Study for the Evaluation of DHHS Programs That Are or May Be Operated Under Tribal Self-Governance. Legislative History and Development of Tribal Self-Governance


In addition to the literature review, a summary of the legislative history and development of Tribal Self-Governance was prepared to provide background for understanding the context within which Self-Governance has evolved and the underlying principles on which the development of Tribal Self-Governance has been based.  The authority for Tribal management of Federally-funded programs was initially provided by Congress under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 (P.L. 93-638).[8] Title I of that Act authorized Tribes to assume management of Bureau of Indian Affairs/DOI and Indian Health Service programs through contractual agreements.  From 1975 to the present, Congress has expanded the opportunities for Tribes to manage their own programs and has increased the degree of Tribal authority and discretion in management.  P.L. 100-472 amended P.L. 93-638 in 1988 to add Title III, which authorized the Tribal Self-Governance Demonstration Project that allowed Tribes to assume greater control over BIA programs that they managed, including consolidation and re-design of programs to better meet individual Tribal priorities and needs.

In 1992, as part of P.L. 102-477, Congress extended the Title III self-governance demonstration to provide for Tribal self-governance of Indian Health Service programs.  In that same Act, Congress created a program that permitted Tribes to consolidate employment and work-related programs from four Federal agencies.   Based on the perceived success of these demonstration projects, notwithstanding the lack of quantitative evaluations noted in this Report, Congress made Tribal self-governance authority permanent within BIA in 1994 (Title IV), and made permanent Tribal self-governance of IHS programs in 2000 (Title V).

Tribes manage other DHHS health and social service programs, under competitive contracts and formula grants.  These Tribally-managed programs do not generally offer the flexibility of program design and use of funds that self-governance provides to Tribes, and often require extensive program-specific application processes and detailed separate reporting requirements.