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TANF-ACF-PI-2008-03 (Guidance for the Resolution of State and Tribal Disagreements Over the State-Submitted Caseload and Expenditure Data Used to Establish the Amount of a Tribal Family Assistance Grant (TFAG))

Published: April 11, 2008
Tribal TANF
Data Collection and Reporting, Caseload data
Program Instructions (PI)


States and Indian Tribes Operating Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Plans and Other Interested Parties.


Guidance for the Resolution of State and Tribal Disagreements Over the State-Submitted Caseload and Expenditure Data Used to Establish the Amount of a Tribal Family Assistance Grant (TFAG).


To set forth revised standard procedures for resolving disagreements over state-submitted caseload and expenditure data used to establish the amount of a TFAG. This issuance supersedes and rescinds the original PI on this topic (see TANF-ACF-PI-2003-04 dated May 5, 2003). A new PI is necessary because of a reorganization of the Office of Family Assistance and the need to clarify certain aspects of the process.


Section 412(a)(1)(B) of the Social Security Act; 45 CFR 286.20 and 286.25


The Tribal TANF regulations, closely following the language of the statute at section 412 of the Social Security Act, provide that the annual amount of a Tribal Family Assistance Grant (TFAG) will be determined using 1994 caseload and expenditure data reported by the State (or States, if the service area is located in more than one State), under the former Aid to Families With Dependent Children, Emergency Assistance and Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training Programs, attributable to Indian Families residing in the proposed service area(s) in which the Tribe(s) intends to operate a TANF program. They further provide that should there be any disagreement by the Tribe(s) with the state-provided data, the Tribe(s) may submit for consideration any information they believe relevant to support different data.

The federal regulations at section 45 CFR 286.20(a) provide that in order to determine the amount of a TFAG "…[w]e will request and use data submitted by a State to determine the amount of a TFAG. The State data that we will request and use are the total Federal payments attributable to State expenditures, including administrative costs (which includes systems costs) for fiscal year 1994 under the former Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Emergency Assistance and Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training programs, for all Indian families residing in the geographic service area or areas identified in the Tribe's letter of intent or Tribal Family Assistance Plan." The remainder of 45 CFR 286.20 along with 45 CFR 286.25 address the steps which must be taken in order to determine the amount of the TFAG.

In order to implement these regulatory provisions in an orderly, expeditious and equitable manner, the following process is established.


The Caseload and Expenditure Determination Process

I. State-provided Data:

  • The Office of Family Assistance (OFA) will request the caseload and expenditure data from the State within 10 days of receipt of an acceptable letter of intent that clearly identifies a proposed service area from a Tribe or tribal organization. The State will be asked to submit the data directly to the Tribe and OFA (i.e. Division of Tribal TANF Management, and the appropriate OFA Regional Office).
  • Upon receipt of the State-provided caseload and expenditure data, OFA will verify that the data has been provided to the Tribe(s). As stated in the regulations at 45 CFR 286.20(a)(2)(i) and (ii), the State has 30 days from the date of the request (from OFA) to submit the necessary data. OFA encourages States to also include information explaining how the data was developed.
  • If the State fails to submit the data by the end of the 30-day period, we will notify the Tribe, and the Tribe will have 45 days from the date of notification to submit relevant data and, if the Tribe chooses and as OFA encourages, submit information explaining how they developed their data. In such situations, OFA will use the data submitted by the Tribe to assist in determining the amount of the TFAG.
  • OFA will compare the State-provided data with any appropriate historical information. If this comparison identifies any issues, OFA will convey these issues to both the State and Tribe.
  • OFA must receive a notice in writing from the Tribe declaring its agreement or disagreement with the State submitted data, no later than 45 days after the date of OFA's notice transmitting the data from the State. Should the Tribe have questions about the State-submitted data during this 45-day period, OFA will work to resolve those questions.
  • If the Tribe agrees with the data, the Tribe must notify OFA in writing and the process will be deemed complete. Subject to approval of a Tribal Family Assistance Plan, the data agreed upon by the State and the Tribe will be used as the basis for determining the annual amount of the TFAG.

II. Notification of Disagreement and Negotiation Process:

  • OFA will encourage the Tribe and the State to engage in negotiations. If they agree to do so, OFA, while not a direct party to the negotiations, will work with the State and Tribe to assist in their negotiations. OFA may be called upon by either party to the negotiations to facilitate, observe and provide technical assistance or information as necessary. The State and Tribe may share any information they believe relevant to establishing or justifying their data. They may agree to any formula or estimating procedure that is mutually acceptable for establishing caseload and/or expenditure data that will be used for determining the grant amount.
  • If the Tribe and State do engage in negotiations, the time limits on further notifications or submission of information will be suspended pending the outcome of the negotiation process.
  • If, at any time during the negotiation process, both parties reach agreement, the process may be concluded, and the agreed-upon data, together with written evidence of concurrence by both parties, will be provided to OFA. Both parties must notify OFA in writing of their agreement, and OFA will accept the mutually agreed-upon data.
  • If the parties fail to reach an agreement on the data and find themselves at an impasse, the Tribe must notify OFA in writing within 15 days of the determination that further negotiations would be fruitless.
  • In the case where the Tribe and the State fail to reach a negotiated agreement (and the Tribe has informed OFA in writing of the impasse), the Tribe will have an additional 45 days from the date of notification to OFA to submit additional documentation for consideration. Additional documentation may include, but is not limited to, Census Bureau data, Bureau of Indian Affairs data, and data from other Federal programs and Tribal records. As provided at 45 CFR 286.20(b), our objective is to evaluate all relevant data and determine the amount of the TFAG at the earliest possible date.  

III. Data Determination by OFA:

  • The OFA Director will use the respective data and support documentation provided by the State and the Tribe in determining the amount of a Tribe's TFAG. If data or information submitted by either party is unclear, inconsistent, inadequate or needs clarification or additional support, the OFA Director may require that the State and/or Tribe submit additional documentation or justification. Any data received or developed will be shared with both parties for review. Additional information or supporting evidence provided for the purposes of clarification must be provided in writing to the Director.
  • OFA will provide both parties with a copy of its determination. If either party disagrees with the finding, it may request that the Director reconsider the decision. The request for reconsideration must be submitted in writing (fax or electronic mail will suffice) within 15 days of receipt of the decision. In the event of such a request, all parties will be given an opportunity to provide additional information and/or clarification, or supporting evidence in writing and, if applicable, through oral presentation.
  • The OFA Director will review the request for reconsideration in addition to any new information or supporting evidence submitted for the purposes of clarification, and will notify the State and Tribe of the final determination in writing as soon as possible.
  • In the case where neither the State nor the Tribe requests reconsideration of the determination, the determination will become final.


Inquiries should be directed to the OFA Regional Office TANF Program Manager.


Sidonie Squier
Office of Family Assistance

Last Reviewed: May 8, 2019