STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD
JACOB J. LEW
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET
ON INDIAN AFFAIRS
UNITED STATES SENATE
5 APRIL 2000
- Thank you for your invitation to appear before the Senate Committee
on Indian Affairs to provide the Administration=s views with respect to S. 612 - Indian Needs
Assessment and Program Evaluation Act of 2000. We appreciate the opportunity to
share our views on the legislation.
Administration Actions to Address Indian Country Needs
- The relationship between the U.S. Government and Native Americans is
a historical one founded on a trust responsibility. The Administration
continues to honor its government-to- government relationship with Tribes by
supporting critical programs serving Indian reservations, developing executive
orders specific to Native Americans, and bringing together Tribal leaders and
resources across the government to address priority Tribal concerns.
- In 1994, the President held the first ever historic meeting with over
300 Tribal leaders at the White House to highlight progress on improving the
government-to-government relationship and to highlight community development
needs in Indian Country. A similar, smaller meeting was held in 1996. In August
1998, the President held a White House Conference on Economic Development where
agencies were directed to develop a strategic plan for coordinating existing
economic development activities for Native Americans and Alaska Natives and
Tribal leaders were able to showcase accomplishments. Also in August 1998, the
President signed an executive order directing agencies to coordinate to develop
a strategic plan on improving elementary and secondary education in Indian
Country. In May 1999, the President met with Tribal leaders from the Northern
Plains (ND, SD, MT) to discuss education, health care, and housing needs in
Indian Country. The culmination of these Presidential events lead to a
multi-agency coo rdinated effort to improve the quality of life in Indian
Country, which is reflected in the FY 2001 Budget request.
Funding for Indian Country in the FY 2001 Budget
- Since 1994, the Domestic Policy Council Interagency Working Group for
Indians and Alaskan Natives, chaired by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, has
met quarterly on policy areas related to Native Americans. This group functions
as a forum for information exchange, needs assessment, and coordination of
policy. For example, the Working Group did significant work with tribes on Y2K
issues and has reached out to Indians to encourage participation in the census.
This White House working group has been active in encouraging agencies to
coordinate programs that assist Indians. The Economic Development Conference,
along with other initiatives, came out of the interagency working group.
- In addition, the White House Working Group worked closely with the
agencies and OMB to develop the President's Native American initiative that is
a key part of the Fiscal Year 2001 Budget. This initiative is one of the top
Administration priorities. It is a coordinated, multi-agency government-wide
initiative that focuses Federal resources on critical programs serving Native
Americans. The President's FY 2001 Budget includes $9.4 billion, an increase of
$1.2 billion or 14 percent over FY 2000, to address critical needs including
health care, education, economic development, infrastructure, and other basic
- This initiative includes significant increases for the Indian Health
Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and numerous other agencies. Such
increases are intended to target high priority, high impact areas and to
address critical health, life and safety needs. The Working Group will
coordinate agency efforts to implement the initiative. We believe that if
enacted, this initiative will make a significant difference in the quality of
life of Native Americans.
Indian Needs Assessment
- The FY 2001 Budget presents a comprehensive way to fund critical
needs and is intended to challenge leaders to achieve consensus on these
specific areas. S. 612 also attempts to address areas of need in Indian
Country. S. 612 is intended to overcome the Congressional concerns regarding
the availability of detailed and reliable information about Indian Country
needs. While the Administration shares these concerns, we do not believe that
S. 612 addresses this issue in an effective and efficient manner nor does it
indicate the importance of measuring program results. The Administration has
and will continue to work with the agencies as they continue to develop and
reform performance indicators and provide detailed information on program
performance pursuant to the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of
- For example, the Indian Health Service has developed a GPRA
performance plan aimed at using a cost-effective public health approach to
reduce the health disparities in Native Americans. This performance plan plays
an important role in the development of IHS budgets and operating plans. IHS'
GPRA plan includes goals to improve the overall health status of Native
Americans and Alaska Natives, including measures to increase glycemic control
efforts as a means to reduce diabetic complications, to provide additional
home-based well-child visits, and to improve water fluoridation compliance to
reduce the prevalence of dental decay.
- The proposed legislation would require the following reports to
- Indian Needs Assessments - after the Secretary of the Interior
develops a uniform method, each Federal agency must identify the actual needs
of Indian tribes and Indians eligible for Federal programs and services.
Reports are due every five years.
- Annual Indian Program Evaluations - each Federal agency must
report on annual expenditures for Federal programs and services for which
Indians are eligible, including information on those tribes that receive
services and those that applied but did not receive services.
- Annual Listing of Tribal Eligible Programs - each agency must
publish in the Federal Register a list of all programs and services available
to Indian tribes or their members.
- Strategic Plan - within 18 months the Secretary of the Interior
must file a plan for improving coordination of Federal assistance for
- OMB asked Federal departments and agencies to review and comment on
the proposed bill's requirements. To date, we have received comments from
nearly a dozen organizations with Indian programs totaling $8.6 billion, or 92
percent, of the Native American initiative. These organizations provide a
wide-range of assistance programs and services to tribal governments and tribal
members. Many expressed similar concerns that the proposed legislation is too
broad in scope, burdensome and expensive to administer, and duplicates current
GPRA planning and reporting requirements.
- The testimony of Interior's Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs
Kevin Gover covers the many technical, schedule, and methodological problems
that are shared by these other departments and agencies.
- Funding and successful implementation of programs that assist Native
Americans remain a priority for the Administration. The Administration stands
ready to work with the Committee to address this issue and will, pursuant to
GPRA, continue to work with Federal agencies administering programs serving
Native Americans to ensure that their programs are efficient and effective.