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In a joint effort with the United States, our attorneys successfully established the right of tribal health contractors to collect third-party reimbursements in U.S. and Norton Sound Health Corp. v. Bering Strait School District, 138 F.3d 1281 (9th Cir. 1998).

Contract Support Cost

One of the biggest obstacles to tribal self-determination and self-governance has been the underfunding of “contract support costs” by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Indian Health Service (IHS). The Indian Self-Determination and Education Act (ISDEAA) requires full funding of these administrative and overhead costs, yet Congress has consistently failed to provide sufficient funds. Without this funding tribes may be required to reduce services or to go without essential administrative activities.

Our firm works on behalf of our clients to:

  • Urge Congress to provide adequate appropriations.
  • Insist that agencies report accurately the contract support need of tribes as the law requires.
  • Resist agency attempts to force tribes to agree not to press for full funding.
  • Participate in agency policy formation and implementation.
  • Litigate the question of the entitlement to contract support, especially where the agency cannot show that it lacks sufficient funds from Congress to pay in full.  
  • Oppose agency efforts to change longstanding guidelines on indirect cost negotiations in a manner detrimental to tribes.
  • Monitor and advocate on behalf of our clients on all issues related to contract support costs.


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