Murkowski Praises Settlement of Contract Support Cost Case

Senator: “Tribal Self-Governance Must Be Supported And Expanded”

Senator Lisa Murkowski released the following statement after the Obama administration reached a $940 million proposed settlement with Native American tribes, Alaska Natives, and tribal entities nationwide over the Department of the Interior’s failure to cover the expenses incurred by tribally-run federal programs:

“For over 30 years, the federal government continuously shortchanged tribes who provide federal Indian programs and critical health services throughout the nation, including in rural Alaska,” said Senator Murkowski. “Our First Peoples deserve better. They deserve to have the nation’s trust responsibility fulfilled. Tribal self-governance is a model that must be supported and expanded, and the outcome of this case is an important step in that direction.”

Background: Contract support costs are the operational costs of tribes to deliver federal Indian programs—including personal management systems, liability insurance, and facility support costs, which otherwise would be delivered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service. The Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975 requires the Department of the Interior to fully fund the costs of these programs. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in Salazar v. Ramah that tribes should be fully compensated for the operation of self-governance contracts.

As Chair of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murkowski secured a provision in the FY 2016 Interior Appropriations bill to fully fund contract support costs for the BIA and IHS. The bill also creates a separate appropriations account to protect other Indian programs from having to pay for contract support cost shortfalls.