Tribal Self-governance Demonstration Feasibility Study. Methods to Assure Quality and Accountability


Congress requested that the Secretary advise on methods to assure quality and accountability in a self-governance demonstration. The following recommendations address this requirement.

Recommendation: The Single Audit Act, as amended and including its implementation guidance, must be made applicable to a self-governance demonstration.

The Single Audit Act is the government-wide mechanism for assuring financial accountability and is already applied to self-governance projects under Title V of the Act.


Recommendation 1: Program accountability and quality should be monitored through specific performance measures and performance reports, established through negotiations with the tribes prior to the establishment of self-governance agreements.

The flexibility to redesign and consolidate programs and activities and waive certain existing program requirements in a demonstration raises concerns about maintaining program identity and assuring that eligible beneficiaries continue to receive quality services. These concerns can be addressed through program performance measures and reporting. This parallels the Government Performance and Results Act and is the current paradigm for program accountability. In the case of a demonstration, the Secretary would negotiate a single set of performance measures and performance report that would be standard for all tribes throughout a demonstration. The measurement system would incorporate key measures and data requirements that currently exist for each program under a demonstration into a single system, eliminating redundancy. A tribe would report on only those measures applicable to the programs under their particular self-governance agreement.

Recommendation 2: A maintenance of effort provision should be part of a demonstration with the option for tribes to reprogram up to 20 percent of funds of the individual programs.

To further address the concern that the redesign and consolidation authority, by allowing tribes to move funds between programs, would result in the erosion of program services, a maintenance of effort requirement is recommended. Such a provision could require tribes to maintain a baseline level of services and expenditures for each program under a demonstration. To provide flexibility to redesign and consolidate programs and activities, tribes should be allowed to reprogram up to 20 percent of the funds of a program. This change will require amendments to existing legislation authorizing the programs selected to participate in the demonstration project, or to the statute establishing the project.

Recommendation 3: An overall evaluation of a demonstration should also be authorized.

In order to evaluate the success of a demonstration as a basis for deciding future extensions of self-governance, a process and outcome evaluation of a demonstration should be authorized. This should incorporate such items as an evaluation of the use of waivers and limitations of a demonstration model for future self-governance authorizations.

Recommendation 4: Authorization should be given to use compact funds to comply with performance data collection and reporting requirements.

Tribes should be authorized to use compact funds to fully cover any data collections and reporting requirements.

Program Duplication - State Concerns
Recommendation: Participating tribes should be required to demonstrate efforts to coordinate information on dually eligible clients with States.

One prominent issue raised by State government organizations during the consultation process was the issue of dually eligible clients - clients who can elect to be served through either State systems or the tribe. In these cases (e.g., child care subsidies) the potential for duplicate benefits exists, as well as for a negative impact on States. For example, a tribe might receive funds to provide child care subsidies to qualified tribal members while the State does not. However, because the tribal member is eligible under current law for subsidies both from the tribe and the State, the tribal member can elect to receive subsidies from the State. Since the tribe, not the state, receives funds for services to tribal members, this creates an unfunded liability for the State. Short of changing eligibility rules, a system of information sharing might help this problem. Therefore, a recommendation is made to have tribes demonstrate efforts to coordinate client information with States. For example, tribes might identify dually eligible tribal members to the States and indicate when they have elected to receive services from the tribe.