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Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States - Native Americans


Location: Unknown

Today U.S. Senators from the Western states protected the needs of Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and Alaska Native peoples in a letter calling on President Obama to strengthen tribal self-governance, support economic self-sufficiency, and honor the government's agreements with Indian Tribes by fully funding contract support costs and joint venture staffing in his Fiscal Year 2013 budget request.

Tribal groups around the country contract with the government to deliver services such as running hospitals and clinics, providing welfare assistance, housing programs, and various other activities--all of which the federal government would otherwise be running. However, the federal government annually short-changes tribes by refusing to fully pay certain administrative services known as "contract support costs."

Led by Senator Mark Begich the letter is signed by Senators Daniel Akaka (D -- Hawaii), Max Baucus (D -- Mont.), Jeff Bingaman (D -- N.M.), Daniel Inouye (D -- Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D -- Ore.), Lisa Murkowski (R -- Alaska), Jon Tester (D -- Mont.) and Tom Udall (D -- N.M.).

Full Letter:

The Honorable Barack Obama
President ofthe United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500-0005

Dear Mr. President:

We are requesting that your Fiscal Year 2013 (FY 2013) proposed budget to Congress include iitllcontract support and joint venture staff funding to strengthen tribal self-governance, support economic self-sufficiency, and honor the governments agreements with Indian Tribes.

As you know, the federal Indian policy of tribal sel f-determination has succeeded in substantialljv improving the lives ofAmerican Indians and Alaska Natives. The Indian Self Dererminotfon Aer and Erfuenrion Assistrsrnce Act of l9i'5 {Pub. L. No. 93-63E) allowed Indian tribes to take control of the welfare of their tribal citizens by managing the federal programs for the benefit of Indians under contract while preserving the federal trust responsibility of the United States.

Today, under Pub. L. No. 93-633 the Departments of the Interior and Health and HumanServices contract with Indian tribes and tribal organizations across 35 states to administer over $2.3 billion in government services that would otherwise be administered by the U.S. government. Under these contracts, Tribes operate hospitals and clinics,administer welfare assistance programs, run police departments, and carry out a vast array of other governmental activities in such areas as education, housing and land and resource management--all of which the federal government would be otherwise running.

Pub. L. No. 93-638 requires the Tribes be paid in hall for the "contraet support costs which they incur to administer these contracts. These fixed overhead costs are annual established by the federal government, primarily the 1nt.erior Departments National Business Center. These costs cover such necessary contract expenses as the cost of federally-mandated annual audits and property. and workers compensation insurance. When these fixed costs are not paid, Tribes are compelled to divert resources by leaving positions vacant in the contracted programs serving their members in order to make up the difference.

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