SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Senate Passes Tribal Employment and Training Legislation

Empowers Tribes and Tribal Organizations to Offer Innovative Workforce Development Initiatives Across Alaska


December 07, 2017
Thursday PM

(SitNews) - The Senate’s unanimous passage of H.R. 228, the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Consolidation Act of 2017, was a huge victory for Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) and other tribes across the nation. The new law was introduced by Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and passed in the House earlier this year and will not only improve, but make permanent the Native employment and training programs after more than 20 years operating as a demonstration project.

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Commonly known as the "477 Program", it is unique in that it allows federally-recognized tribes and Alaska Native entities to combine formula-funded federal grant funds into a single plan with a single budget and a single reporting system. The legislation allows for implementation of plans for the purpose of economic development, job training, welfare-to-work and tribal work experience, higher education, skill development, facilitation of employment, assisting Indian youth and adults to succeed in the workforce, and encouraging self-sufficiency.

The legislation authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Interior to cooperate with the Attorney General, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Education, Secretary of Energy, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Transportation, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs on coordination of federally-funded employment, training, and related services programs.

Tlingit & Haida was the first tribe in the nation to enter into a Public Law (P.L.) 102-477 Compact with the United States and stated in a press release they have successfully administered the innovative workforce development demonstration program for over two decades.
“This historic passage occurred after eight years of tribal advocacy,” said President Richard Peterson. “There were many tribal leaders who worked hard to make this achievement a reality over the last several years including Tlingit & Haida’s former Chief Operating Officer Corrine Garza. I want to also recognize in particular the staff of Senator Murkowski, Senator Tester, Senator Udall and Congressman Young, and the law firm Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry, LLP.”
Among other amendments made, the new law will provide the ability of tribes to integrate federal resources received for employment and training purposes under a single plan and budget. The original law previously applied to only three federal agencies (Department of Interior, Department of Labor, and Department of Health & Human Services) and will soon include the Justice Department and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing & Urban Development, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs.
Other significant changes included in the new law authorizes tribes to recover 100% of indirect costs, expressly repealing caps on indirect costs that would otherwise apply to funds consolidated under a plan and clarifies the plan approval process and timelines, the roles of various federal agencies involved, the transfer of funds mechanism, and the reporting and audit requirements.
“The passage of this bill affirms the sovereignty and wisdom of tribes to serve their citizens in a way that ensures the highest likelihood of long-term success,” said 477 Division Director William Martin. “The passage makes permanent a system that has proven to be very effective in guiding our low income individuals and families to independence and self-sufficiency. The goal of Tlingit & Haida’s 477 Division is to create a single, coordinated system of collaborative services by pooling funding sources together to provide employment, training and other supportive services for the maximum benefit to our tribal citizens. The 477 program is one of the best tools we have available to our tribal citizens. The passage of this bill allows us to negotiate grants and contracts across all departments, efficiently consolidate them into a single plan, program and budget, and invest more program dollars directly into support services.”

“The 477 Program has proven to be an innovative and effective tool in providing education and training opportunities aimed to improve the quality of life in every region of Alaska. I am proud the Senate has recognized the importance of this program to support self-sufficiency, create jobs, and expand employment opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives nationwide,” Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said. “I am so pleased Congress has once again recognized the importance of this program and I look forward to it being signed by the President. I am also thrilled that this will be the first Native American bill passed this Congress.”

“The 477 Program has been a great success for over two decades benefitting Alaska Natives and Native Americans throughout the nation,” Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said. “The 477 is a proven example of promoting self-determination while cutting red tape. The 477 program supports lowering the unemployment rate in Alaska, and throughout the nation, by providing workforce development services in some of the most impoverished areas. The 477 program is an example of how the federal government can streamline their processes to better work with those providing services on the ground. I am proud that the Senate passed this legislation; one step closer to expanding and making permanent this model program.”

“After more than 5 years of work developing and advancing this legislation, I’m happy to see it head to the President’s desk to be signed into law,” said Congressman Don Young (R-AK). “This would not be possible without the delegation’s dedicated efforts to navigate the bill to final passage.  Our legislation is what tribal self-determination is all about – empowering Native communities to craft the best solutions for their unique education and training needs.  I commend the 477 Tribal Work Group and the many individual tribes and tribal organizations that have fought tirelessly for these policy improvements over the years.  This is Indian country’s victory.”

“The 477 program is one of the best tools that we have available to allow Native communities in Alaska and across the nation to effectively invest in their communities. It allows us to negotiate grants and contracts across all departments, consolidate them into a single plan, program and budget, and then maximize programs that respond best to community need,” said Gloria O’Neill, President and CEO of Cook Inlet Tribal Council. “This allows us to invest more program dollars directly into the community, so that we can be more creative and work in a much more efficient and productive manner, connecting people to their full potential.”

The Senate-passed H.R. 228, the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Consolidation Act of 2017 without amendment on November 29, 2017. It was introduced by Congressman Young and passed in the House on February 27, 2017. Senator Murkowski and Senator Sullivan both sponsored S.91, a Senate companion bill to H.R. 228.

The legislation, which moved to the President’s desk for signature on December 06, 2017, improves and makes permanent the 477 program, expands the types and sources of funding available, resolves plan approval and appeal processes, and ensures that funds will be transferred and require only one report. 

The legislation, championed by a united Alaska delegation, marks Young’s second to reach the President’s desk during the 115th Congress.


On the Web:

H.R. 228, the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Consolidation Act of 2017


Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska

Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski

Office of Senator Dan Sullivan

Office of Congressman Don Young



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