Bureau of Indian Affairs develops contract support costs policy

Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele speaks at the Ramah settlement announcement in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on September 17, 2015. Photo from Bureau of Indian Affairs / Twitter

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has developed a new contract support costs (CSC) policy and wants to hear from tribes about it.

For decades, tribes were shortchanged of the additional costs they incur when they enter into self-determination contracts to manage federal programs. It took two decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court and a $940 million settlement for the BIA to change course.

"The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance for the full payment of CSC and to ensure that the payment of CSC is accurate, timely, and meets 100 percent o fthe tribe's CSC need as calculated under this policy," the draft document states.

The BIA will be consulting tribes about the new policy in April, May and June. Four meetings have scheduled in Florida, New Mexico, California and Oklahoma.

Written comments can also be submitted by July 29, according to a notice published in the Federal Register on Friday.

The fiscal year 2017 budget request for the BIA includes $278 million for contract support costs, an amount that the agency says will meet tribal needs. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which writes the bill that funds the BIA, has supported paying tribes what they are owed.

Federal Register Notice:
Contract Support Costs (March 25, 2016)

Prior Federal Register Notices:
Contract Support Costs (April 8, 2014)
Contract Support Costs (February 21, 2014)

Supreme Court Decisions in Contract Support Cost Cases:
Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter (June 18, 2012)
Cherokee Nation v. Leavitt:
Cherokee Nation v. Leavitt (March 1, 2005)

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