Since 1975, the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act has allowed Native American tribes to self-govern through many programs and services that were previously administered federally. The PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act, which stands for Practical Reforms and Other Goals to Reinforce the Effectiveness of Self-Governance and Self-Determination, makes some technical and bureaucratic tweaks and reforms to further expand tribes’ right to self-governance.
“Self-governance has been extraordinarily beneficial for Tribes to manage successful programs with the flexibility to utilize federal funds in a way that best fits the needs of their communities. Tribes are their own best stewards,” Rep. Haaland said in a press release. “However, serious gaps continue to exist that hinder the full exercise of Tribal self-governance.”
The Senate passed it by voice vote on June 27, 2019; the House did the same on September 21, 2020; and President Trump signed it into law on October 21, 2020.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Apr 2, 2019.
Practical Reforms and Other Goals To Reinforce the Effectiveness of Self-Governance and Self-Determination for Indian Tribes Act of 2019 or the PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act
This bill replaces the Tribal Self-Governance Demonstration Project with the Tribal Self-Governance Program. Under the program, Native American tribes or organizations may receive grants to plan for participation in self-governance and to negotiate the terms of participation.
In addition, the bill revises the Department of the Interior's process for approving self-governance compacts and funding agreements with tribes. Interior must negotiate contracts and funding agreements to maximize implementation of the self-governance policy. The bill sets forth requirements for tribes participating in self-governance with respect to conflicts of interest, audits, redesign and consolidation of programs, retrocession of programs, nonduplication of funding, and records.
Funding agreements must include provisions for Interior to monitor the performance of trust functions by the tribe and to reassume a program and funding under specified circumstances.
Tribes participating in self-governance may elect to assume some federal responsibilities with respect to certain construction projects.
The bill prohibits a tribe from being obligated to continue performance of a compact or funding agreement that provides insufficient funding.