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November 20, 2004

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments for Tribal Contract Support Case

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a tribal lawsuit against the federal government for reimbursement of contract support costs, and from contractors that do business with the government.  Many tribes allege that the government owes them millions of dollars in contract support costs the government has never reimbursed.  This lack of government reimbursement has caused the tribes to divert the money from basic health services Congress intended to fund.

The goverernment contends that its obligation to provide contract support costs is not ultimately binding because tribal self-determination contracts are unique.  The Cherokee and Shoshone-Paiute tribes are requesting reimbursement for the cost of administering federal health programs in 1996 and 1997, under self-determination contracts with the government. 

In the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, Congress appointed the Department of Health and Human Services to pay for contract support costs of tribes, subject to the availibility of appropriations. 

The Department of Health and Human Services contend the tribes were denied funding in those years because of the lack of available funds in its appropriation from Congress meant other tribal programs would have suffered if some tribes were reimbursed for the full costs of administering their contract services.

Posted by Nicole Robbins at 08:49 AM in Contracts | Permalink

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