Murkowski, Sullivan Bill Would Ensure Tribal Funding Program Stays Streamlined

477 Program Puts Decision-making in Hands of Community Leaders

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan have introduced legislation to strengthen Public Law 102-477 (referred to as the 477 program) by making its beneficial, streamlined process permanent – while also expanding its reach to more participating federal agencies.  Almost $110 million is funded through 477 plans on an annual basis in 18 states throughout the nation. In Alaska, eleven regional tribal organizations participate in the tribal 477 program.

477 programs were created in 1992 to allow tribes to exercise their governmental authority to “integrate the employment, training and related services they provide in order to improve the effectiveness of those services, reduce joblessness in Indian communities and serve tribally determined goals consistent with the policy of self-determination.”  This demonstration program has proven successful at pooling money from different federal agencies to fund identified worthwhile projects that would create jobs within native communities nationwide.

Despite its effectiveness at breaking down agency borders for greater efficiency, some federal government bureaus have pushed back on the 477 program and sought to return to the older process where redundant requests and time-consuming administrative efforts were required to reach the same results.

The legislation introduced by Alaska’s Senators would make the 477 program permanent, expand the types and sources of funding available, resolve plan approval and appeal processes, and ensure that funds will be transferred and require only one report.

“Tribal leaders know better than anyone what works for communities in rural Alaska. The 477 program has been a success story for Alaska Natives and Native Americans, but there are common sense steps we can take to improve it,” said Senator Murkowski. “This program has proven an effective tool in support of tribal self-determination, and strengthening it is a crucial step in simply getting the government out of the way, so that these communities can move forward to improve their quality of life.”

“The 477 Program has been a great success for over two decades, "said Senator Sullivan. "I’m proud to introduce legislation with Senator Murkowski that would not only make the program permanent, but would make it better for our tribal organizations. The 477 Program is the kind of effective, efficient, and streamlined program that works for the people on the ground and one which could serve as a model for others in the future.”