14th Annual Tribal Budget and Policy Consultation

14th Annual Tribal Budget and Policy Consultation

March 8, 2012

It’s both an honor and a privilege to be on the panel with so many distinguished colleagues.

I’m grateful for this opportunity to consult with our partners from Native American communities across the country.

At ACF, one of our most important priorities is the social and economic development of Native Americans.   And one of our strategic goals is to better represent and address the concerns of underserved populations across America—a description that unfortunately still applies to many Native Americans.

We are completely committed to programs that treasure the unique heritage and rich traditions of Native Americans and that support self-governance.

In my 9 months as Acting Assistant Secretary, I have been lucky enough to visit a number of Native American communities.   I never fail to be moved by what I see—courage, wisdom, good will and good humor.  A sacred connection to the land and to your ancestors.  Determination to forge a better life for the next generation who will carry your traditions forward while they fulfill their own destinies.

I always come back from these trips inspired.  I draw energy from what I see happening in tribal communities.

Be assured that the President and Secretary share ACF’s commitment to the development of Native American communities.

Both have expressed their strong support for tribal sovereignty.

They are committed to promoting tribal control of various programs that deeply affect Native American men, women and children.

You might be interested to know that the President’s 2013 budget request for Native American programs maintains 2012’s level of 48 and a half million dollars.

We’re going to use these funds for a wide-ranging array of community-based projects.

Our goals are unchanged: to work with you to make tribal members healthier and more economically self-sufficient, to preserve and promote your native languages and to give you the tools that allow you to be good stewards of the environment. 

ANA will continue to make self-governance a high priority, along with a concern for coordinating services and building the capacity of tribal governments.

I also want to stress that we are fully committed to supporting integrated training and employment efforts through the 477 framework.

As you know, HHS has three programs participating in 477:  TANF, Child Care and Development, and Native Employment Works

I know that you’re concerned about the audit requirements under 477.  We’ve heard from several tribes that the audit requirements are burdensome, expensive and not consistent with the intent of the law.

We haven’t only heard your concerns.  We’ve listened.

Last fall, the Secretaries of HHS, Labor and Interior sent a letter to tribes and to Congress laying out the four steps we’re taking:
o We’ve eliminated the proposed Addendum to the Compliance Supplement
o We’re allowing Tribes to draw down lump sums from HHS programs as soon as they’re available each fiscal year
o We’re committed to using 477 waiver authority to foster flexibility.
o And we’ve formed a work group with Interior, Labor and HHS along with OMB officials and tribal leaders to develop a more suitable and simpler way to audit 477 funds.

By working together, I’m confident we can make progress toward our mutual goals of flexibility, efficiency, administrative simplification and program integrity.

I don’t want to get too much in the weeds right now.

We’re here today to engage in dialogue—dialogue we need because no one person or group is in sole possession of the answers.  To make progress, we must listen to and cooperate with each other.

In the words of Lone Man of the Teton Sioux, “... I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself.”

So in the spirit of interdependence, I look forward to the rest of the consultation.

Thank you.

Back to Top