The Evaluation Feasibility Study is just one component of the DHHS efforts to support effective Tribal Self-Governance. DHHS consulted with Tribes on a variety of issues related to the Title VI Self-Governance demonstration feasibility study that was mandated by Congress to examine potential DHHS programs for Tribal Self-Governance and which has now been submitted to Congress. A Title VI Advisory Group, comprised of Tribal Leaders with a commitment to Self-Governance and their designees, worked closely with DHHS throughout that earlier process. In addition, DHHS made information regarding the Title VI Self-Governance demonstration feasibility study available to all interested persons through its website and through direct mailings to Tribes and other stakeholders.
The current Evaluation Feasibility Study has continued this practice of active consultation and information dissemination. Specific communication activities that were undertaken included:
- A project description, explaining the project and its objectives, was sent to all Chairpersons or Presidents of Federally-recognized Tribes, with a background letter. The packet sent included contact information for the DHHS Task Order Managers (TOMs) and for each of the Co-Principal Investigators, as well as the DHHS website address where ongoing information about the study and its progress is maintained. Interested individuals were encouraged to provide comments and inquiries, through telephone or email to the OASPE Task Order Managers and/or the Co-Principal Investigators.
- The Task Order Managers and Co-Principal Investigators conducted presentations and question-and-answer sessions on the project at national or regional AI/AN meetings, including the National DHHS/DOI Tribal Self-Governance meetings in San Diego (November 2002) and Palm Springs (October 2003) and the Alaska Native Health Board meeting in August 2003.
- The Technical Working Group was established and met in February 2003 to review and comment on Draft Reports, the Project Work Plan, and to provide guidance to the project. Monthly conference calls were conducted with the TWG to discuss interim reports and progress on the project, from March through August 2003. The Technical Working Group met with the project team on December 9-10, 2003 to review and discuss the Draft Final Report on the project.
- Discussion sessions were arranged and held at the National Indian Health Board conference, National DHHS/DOI Tribal Self-Governance meetings, and NCAI conference to obtain broader Tribal comments and suggestions on the study objectives and preliminary findings.
- At the end of the project, the summary of the Final Report will be mailed to all Tribal Chairpersons with contact information for the OASPE Task Order Managers to encourage further comments and suggestions to DHHS.
The goals of all of these communication and information dissemination activities have been to ensure that the project and its development was conducted as an open and ‘transparent’ process and to glean the maximum useful advice and input from the Tribes in the conduct of the study, while seeking to assure a balanced inquiry and lead to valid and objective advice to DHHS.