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Updated Message Regarding Partial Federal Government Shutdown

Hoyan,

As we have previously communicated, the Oneida Business Committee and Office of the Treasurer, have been monitoring the events and issues that surround the partial federal government shutdown. We first provided you a notice on December 21st, prior to the holidays, that we were on watch for a partial shutdown in the federal government.  We later advised the partial shutdown occurred.  This is now our 3rd update advising you of how the issue is unfolding and status as it applies to the Oneida Nation.

Budget Contingency Plan:  The Oneida Nation’s Budget Management and Control Law requires that the Oneida Business Committee to work with the Tribe’s Chief Finance Officer and managers to create a budget contingency plan for the purpose of providing a strategy for how the Tribe will respond to extreme financial distress that could negatively impact the Oneida Nation, such as a federal shutdown. The Budget Contingency Plan establishes guidelines and a systematic response to financial distress and conditions that impact Oneida’s fiscal health.  Each of the Tribe’s programs and services are required to have a Budget Contingency Plan which will protect the integrity and sovereignty of the Tribe, and;

  • Preserve the Nation’s solvency;
  • Maintain a balanced budget;
  • Preserve the Oneida Nation’s core services; and
  • Ensure there is reliable communication.

If the partial shutdown lingers into February, the Oneida Business Committee will most likely consider a Resolution that will put the Nation in cost containment.

Indian Health Services (IHS)

The Oneida Nation’s Comprehensive Health Division provides medical services, mental & behavioral health services, preventive health services, environmental health services, facilities, administration, and home & community-based services to approximately 14,182 clients.

Currently, the Comprehensive Health Division is relying on carryover funds, third-party reimbursements and IHS funding received in mid-December as part of the 1st FY 2019 Continuing Resolution.  These funds have allowed the Comprehensive Health Division to operate at full capacity during the shutdown, but once some of these funding sources are depleted (approximately around mid-March) the Oneida Nation will need to decide if health services will be scaled back. Going into March, a continuation of the shutdown will impose a financial burden on the Tribe to try to identify alternative funding resources whether through Tribal funds, loans or other means without any assurances that we will be reimbursed for our expenditures.  The last time a shutdown occurred Tribes were not reimbursed for these expenses.

Not only will the Oneida Nation see a financial impact from the shutdown but it will also endure an operational impact.

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)

The Oneida Nation has a Self-Governance compact and funding agreement with the US Department of Interior. This agreement identifies what programs, services, functions, or activities (PSFAs) the Tribe has reclaimed responsibility over.  The BIA provides approximately $1.5 million to aid in the operations of these PSFAs.  Although the Oneida Nation is extremely underfunded when it comes to operational costs associated with the PSFAs, approximately 80% underfunded, the funds received for these PSFAs aid in providing essential core governmental programs and services, which include but are not limited to police services, social services (child care and food distribution), educational services (Headstart), housing services (heating assistance), Indian child welfare, environmental quality, environmental health & safety, and welfare assistance.  The abrupt disruption of our governmental functions means the shutdown is putting the health and welfare of our community and our members at risk and impeding our economic development potential.

Typically, when BIA funding is received, it is used in the beginning of year to aid in the start of certain projects.  Once the BIA funding runs out, Tribal resources are used to cover the shortfall in operational costs.  Because of the shutdown, Tribal resources are being used now; however, there is no insight on if, and when, BIA funding will be made available or if the costs associated with finding alternative resources will be reimbursed.  Because of the lack of stability and uncertainty, some projects may be delayed or terminated.

The Oneida Nation works closely with federal staff on a daily basis when providing programs and services.  During the shutdown, federal staff can only perform certain administrative and oversight functions.  They cannot work on National policy development/issuance, training, some oversight functions.

The Oneida Nation has already felt the impact of this in that the Tribe was in the midst of negotiating  new funding agreements cannot move forward as federal staff are not available. In addition, meetings and consultations are not happening because of absent federal staff.  The Oneida Nation is an avid participant in these meetings as these meetings are important tools to educate IHS and the federal government on the needs of Indian people and tribal nations.  Delaying these meetings will delay important changes needed to improve the health and welfare of Indian people

As a sovereign nation we have agreements between the Oneida Nation and the US government that have been established by treaty.  Our treaties guarantee certain rights are protected and respected by the US government.  Within the auspices of treaties are funds for services that provide healthcare, education and resources for environmental protection and preservation.

The Oneida Business Committee and our executive staff will continue to monitor and maintain our updates to our citizens, employees and our clientele as much as possible.

Yaw^ko for your continued attention to this very important matter.  If you are interested in contacting the Wisconsin Legislature, click here for contact info.  You may send them a simple sentence asking them to please end the shutdown.

Trish King – Oneida Nation Treasurer

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