Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is delivering on its promise to allow Tribal governments and organizations to consolidate important federal funding for job training, workforce development, and other economic development purposes into a single plan, with a single reporting requirement, administered by the Department of the Interior. The new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to implement the Tribal “477 Program,” named for Public Law 102-477, has been signed by 12 federal agencies—including the Departments of the Interior, Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and Justice—and will go into effect immediately.
The 477 Program requires an interagency MOA to facilitate meetings between participating Tribes and federal agencies, to prepare an annual review of achievements, and to create a forum for resolving interagency differences and conflicts between the federal government and Tribes in administering the statute. The last MOA was signed by the same 12 federal agencies in 2018 without Tribal consultation. Tribes have been clear since that MOA was signed that it made it more difficult for them to take advantage of the program and consolidate their funding, and they immediately sought the renegotiation of the MOA.
In October 2021, Vice President Harris addressed the Annual Convention of the National Congress of American Indians and committed that the Administration would “renegotiate this agreement to support Tribal sovereignty.” Today, the Administration is delivering on that promise. The new MOA streamlines plan approval procedures and re-affirms the decisional authority of the Secretary of the Interior in approving plans. This approach will better serve Tribal needs and further key Administration policies, such as respecting Tribal sovereignty and self-determination, reducing joblessness in Indian country, streamlining service delivery, and improving federal customer service.
Since Congress enacted this program in 1992 and expanded it to include more federal agencies in 2017, Tribal governments have successfully developed and used 477 Plans to provide employment and training services based on their unique Tribal goals. In FY22, 292 Tribes, comprising more than half of all federally recognized Tribes in the United States, had seventy-two 477 Plans in effect. Those 292 Tribes managed $272.8 million dollars in FY22 program funds from five agencies.
The new MOA for the Tribal 477 Program will advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of strengthening the economic stability and mobility of families in Indian Country. It will also better enable Tribal Nations to build up the economic resilience of communities through employment and training services based on Tribal goals and initiatives.
Today’s MOA is just one of the many steps the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to improve employment, job training, and economic development opportunities for Tribal Nations. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring Tribal communities and other underserved populations have equitable access to good jobs in in-demand sectors – including those required to implement the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. This includes supporting worker-centered sector strategies to better recruit, train, and retain a diverse, local, and skilled workforce; strengthening Tribal colleges and universities; and advancing Registered Apprenticeships, and other high-quality education and training that lead to good jobs.