PROGRESS Act to Advance Tribal Self-Governance Enacted into Law

Almost 18 years of tribal efforts have culminated in a historic advance for tribal self-governance.  On October 21, 2020, the Practical Reforms and Other Goals to Reinforce the Effectiveness of Self-Governance and Self-Determination (PROGRESS) for Indian Tribes Act was signed into law as Public Law 116-180 (Act).  The Act, which amends Titles I and IV of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) had strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate, primarily from Members of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the House Natural Resources Committee.  It is designed to enhance self-governance for tribes, improve administrative efficiencies, further tribes’ ability to govern their own communities, and more.  Attached is a copy of the Act.

The Act amends IV of the ISDEAA specific to the Department of the Interior (DOI), to conform it with Title V, the portion of the self-governance statute for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  It creates administrative efficiencies by allowing tribes to carry out compacts with both DOI and HHS under a similar statutory framework.  Many self-governance tribes manage  programs within both IHS and DOI, and the PROGRESS Act will reconcile differences, streamline administration, improve efficiencies, and strengthen tribal economies.

The PROGRESS Act also makes important amendments to Title I which applies to self-determination contracts with either the Secretary of HHS or the Secretary of the DOI for the planning, conduct, and administration of programs, functions, services and activities that are otherwise provided to tribes and their members pursuant to federal law, including clarifying reporting requirements, establishing rules of interpretation, and providing for technical assistance to tribes.

Negotiated Rulemaking.  The Act requires the Secretary of Interior to initiate negotiated rulemaking proceedings within 90 days of enactment, which is January 19, 2021, one day before the Presidential Inauguration.  Nominations for appointment of tribal representatives to the rulemaking committee will be solicited.

Proposed Regulations.  The Act requires that proposed regulations are to be published no later than 21 months after enactment.

Please let us know if we may provide additional information or assistance regarding the PROGRESS Act and the preparations for the rulemaking and regulations processes.