President Obama and the Native American Community

Eliminating Barriers to Economic Growth in Indian Country

Last year, around this time, the President instructed agencies to work closely with State, local, and tribal governments to identify any Federal barriers that prevent efficient use of taxpayer dollars to achieve the best results.

On Friday, we released a report highlighting examples of where these new partnerships are leading to real benefits for state, local, and tribal governments. Among other areas, the report focuses on actions to create opportunity for economic growth in Indian Country. The Obama Administration has partnered with tribal leaders and taken decisive action to support infrastructure and workforce development to drive economic growth. These actions include expanding access to broadband under the Recovery Act; providing Federal loan guarantees; investing millions of dollars in businesses in Indian Country; building the capacity of Native Community Development Financial Institutions; implementing an Executive Order to Expand Educational Opportunities and Improve Educational Outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native Students; and supporting the Small Business Administration's 8(a) Business Development Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives, which channels contracts through tribal corporations to qualified businesses to help them gain greater access to Federal and private procurement markets.

These actions are spurring entrepreneurship in Indian Country by increasing business infrastructure such as broadband, making resources such as business loans more accessible, and improving community and economic development. Moreover, they are helping prepare Native American youth to compete for the high-skilled, good jobs of tomorrow by investing in tribal colleges and universities and improving educational outcomes.

Additionally, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been working with federal agencies and the grants community, including collecting feedback from tribal stakeholders, to develop a streamlined set of rules for Federal grants that focus resources on targeting high-risk areas to improve performance and target waste, fraud, and abuse. OMB has now published these suggestions in an Advanced Notice of Proposed Guidance, "Reform of Federal Policies Relating to Grants and Cooperative Agreements; Cost Principles and Administrative Requirements (including Single Audit Act)."

Other examples highlighted in the report include:

In addition, in January 2011, the President issued an Executive Order that emphasized the importance of obtaining the views of State, local, and tribal governments in making and revising Federal regulations to protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation.

The Administration also established the Partnership Fund for Program Integrity Innovation, which brings together stakeholders from across all levels of state, local, and tribal government, to engage in ongoing collaborative forums with Federal agencies and to provide constructive feedback and ideas to improve program administration.

The Administration is committed to reducing the disproportionately high unemployment and poverty rates in Indian Country by making investments today and preparing the next generation to face the challenges of their time.

Kimberly Teehee is Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs with White House Domestic Policy Council

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