The Evaluation Feasibility Study is just one component of the DHHS efforts to support effective Tribal Self-Governance. Since the inception of the Title VI, Self-Governance demonstration feasibility study, mandated by Congress, examining potential new programs for Tribal Self-Governance, DHHS has actively consulted with the Tribes. A Title VI Advisory Group, comprised of Tribal Leaders with a commitment to self-governance and their designees, has worked closely with DHHS throughout that earlier process. In addition, DHHS has 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 intends to continue this practice of active consultation and information dissemination. Specific communication activities that will be undertaken include:
- A project description, explaining the project and its objectives, will be sent to all Chairpersons or Presidents of Federally-recognized Tribes, with a background letter. The packet sent will include contact information for the DHHS 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 will be maintained. Interested individuals will be encouraged to provide comments and inquiries, via the website or through telephone or email to the TOMs or the Co-Principal Investigators.
- The Principal Investigators will conduct presentations and question-and-answer sessions on the project at national or regional AI/AN meetings, to the extent possible within the budget constraints of the project. Both Co-Principal Investigators attended the Self-Governance meeting before the National Council of American Indians annual meeting in San Diego, California on November 8, 2002 to discuss and answer questions about the project that attendees may have. Other opportunities will be sought, both nationally and regionally, throughout the project, to offer progress reports and obtain feedback and suggestions.
- Final project reports and monthly progress reports will be made available to the Title VI Advisory Group and its designees throughout the project. The project team is also willing to meet, by telephone or in-person (within the project budget limits), with the Advisory Group or its designees to discuss the project and answer any questions that may arise. In addition, Westat will support a monthly conference call-in telephone number that can be used independently by the Title VI Advisory Group to convene and discuss issues related to Self-Governance and the Evaluation Feasibility Study.
- As practicable, conference calls or meetings between the project team and tribal leadership will be arranged on an ongoing and impromptu basis, in order to provide additional avenues for input by Self-Governing Tribal leaders.
The goal of all of the communication and information dissemination activities discussed in this report is to ensure that the project and its development are 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 objective advice that can be provided to DHHS. The project team will make extensive efforts to provide information to all interested parties throughout the project and will welcome and respond to inquiries, requests for information, comments, and suggestions.