Dear USET/USET SPF Family,
A recent federal court decision has wrongly interpreted what costs qualify as Contract Support Costs (CSC)—an action that could affect CSC reimbursements for many other Tribal Nations. In Cook Inlet Tribal Council v. Dotomain, the United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit misinterpreted section 106(a)(2) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) and held that that Tribal overhead costs are disqualified from being reimbursed merely if the federal agency in question would “normally” incur that same cost in running the contracted program. Then, this past December, IHS cited this new court decision as it cut reimbursements to one Tribal organization by 90%.
While IHS has stated that it does not intend to apply this decision more broadly and will provide further information in an upcoming “Dear Tribal Leader” letter (DTLL), it is deeply concerning that the agency has already utilized the Cook Inlet decision to recoup funds previously paid to another Tribal entity.
In response to these concerns, USET SPF has joined 14 partner organizations on letters to Congress (the House Appropriations and House Natural Resources Committees, as well as the Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate Committee on Indian Affairs) urging an amendment to ISDEAA that would correct the Cook Inlet interpretation of section 106(a)(2) replacing the word “but” with the words “including activities.” This will restore the longstanding understanding of the ISDEAA.
As the legislative effort proceeds, USET SPF is joining others in urging the IHS to avoid taking any further action against Tribal Nations as a result of the Cook Inlet decision. We will continue to monitor this issue, including IHS’ forthcoming DTLL, and will provide updates as they become available.
For more information, please contact Liz Malerba, USET SPF Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, at email@example.com.