December 27, 2002
Tribal Self-Governance Study
Room 447D, Hubert Humphrey Building
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning & Evaluation
Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201
To Whom It May Concern:
We have reviewed the draft language for the Tribal Self-Governance Feasibility Study and are concerned that in its present form tribes may not be able to operate programs with the demonstration projects effectively.
The study recognizes the fact that Self-Governance programs suffer because they are not fully reimbursed for indirect costs related to operating these programs. Failure to fully fund indirect costs causes tribes to operate with insufficient resources. The department choosing to maintain the status quo, i.e. administrative cost caps, prolongs the issue which needs to be addressed by the department or congressionally.
The study states that there will be no actual savings accrued from the tribes taking programs. If the demonstration is a true government-to-government project, the agency will realize savings in the long term. In order to realize these potential savings through Self-Governance, meaningful dialogue and coordination between the federal, state and tribal counterparts will need to take place on an on-going basis with the federal agencies being more open to organizational modification that reflects the changes that have taken place in program operations and oversight.
The language for burden of proof for appealing the withdrawal of waivers and appealing the rejection of final offers is unacceptable. If history holds true, an overwhelming number of tribal participants in this study will be tribes that have already compacted programs under Title IV and Title V. With their experience and proven records of financial stability and program management, tribes should be accorded the respect that they deserve in the regulations by giving deference to their program decisions and having the burden of proof be on the federal agency for withdrawing waivers and rejecting final offers.
Finally, clarification is needed in the conflict of interest section to specify what type of situation the committee envisions may arise that would require a conflict of interest prohibition.
We applaud the committee's effort for its hard work to draft the language for the project. Although we support the basic idea of the study, we can not fully accept the draft language in its current form. We ask the committee to revisit the language and make necessary changes to make the study a project worthy of tribal participation.
We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Tribal Self Governance Feasibility Study.
Bill Anoatubby, Governor
The Chickasaw Nation