Tribal Self-governance Demonstration Feasibility Study. Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe

03/01/2003

December 2, 2002

Tribal Self-Governance Study
Room 447D. Hubert H. Humphrey Bldg.
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201

Re: Stakeholder's Comments on DHHS Title VI Feasibility Study

Please accept the following comments by the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe on the above feasibility study. We believe that it is in the best interest of the Tribe and the Department of Health and Human Services to expand the Self-Governance movement through the addition of DHHS programs in a manner similar to IHS and BIA Self-Governance Projects and the PL 102-477 process.

The following comments cover specific aspects of the feasibility study.

Indirect Costs:

  1. Full funding of Indirect Costs is the single most important necessity in the successful Self-Governance of DHHS programs.
  2. Indirect Costs are the true cost of contracting or compacting Federal programs. These costs are heavily scrutinized by the Department of Interior's Office of the Inspector General. Tribes must have all costs approved by the Inspector General prior to applying any rate to program dollars. Our Tribe, alone, has had to provide detailed justifications on staffing, salary levels, travel expenses and a myriad of other details.
  3. If DHHS programs do not pay their full share, the Tribe must finance the difference. This is fine for a state with millions of constituents. It is a disaster for virtually all Tribes. Tribes simply do not have the tax base that allows the Tribe to pay for the Indirect shortfalls that are caused by Caps. By forcing caps on Tribes, there is an inherent favoritism to the non-Indian population and a resulting reduction in services and benefits to Native Americans. Caps, therefore, are virtually a racially-based form of Federal funding policy.
  4. "Single Indirect Cost Pool"; This is proposed but Tribal Indirect Costs are already in one Indirect Cost Pool. This is the reason that caps do not work. They simply force other agencies, or the Tribe, to cover the costs that are rightfully attributable to the capped programs.

Federal Staff Reductions:

I find it hard to believe that there would not be a reduction in Federal staff when up to 250 tribes Self-Govern DHHS programs. The argument that many of the contracts are already in effect is offset by the fact that a bulk of the BIA and IHS programs were also being contracted prior to Self-Governance, yet both agencies experienced sizable staff reductions.

Supplemental Funding by States:

Tribal members are also citizens of the states in which they reside. Funding directly from the Federal government for programs should not affect the level of supplemental funds paid by the state. It would seem that such a reduction could he viewed as an illegal punitive measure by a state if it should decrease such funding simply because of a Tribe opting to Self-Govern itself.

Programs:

 

The Secretary should be allowed to add as many programs as he sees fit. It is the multiplicity of programs that increases the ability of Tribes to creatively construct culturally appropriate services to their members. Recommendation 2 is favored by the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe.

 

Waivers:

Recommendation 1 is favored by the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe.

Conclusions

It would be to the Tribe's, and the Country's, advantage to Self-Govern DHHS programs. Up front funding is a necessity. Full Indirect Costs, as required by law, should be made available. The Demonstration project should cover at least three to five years. Program redesign authority should be a requirement. All Tribes currently in Self-Governance or 477 should be eligible to participate. Other Tribes should be eligible as DHHS expands the capacity to process additional agreements. Regulatory waiver authority is a must. The ability to retrocede programs from the project must be a requirement.

Thank you for your attention on this matter. Please feel free to contact me, or our representative, Greg Anderson, if you need any further information.

Sincerely,

Ronald G. Charles
Tribal Chairman