May 24, 2002
Wiener Center for Social Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government
In the United States, federal funds are transferred to American Indian nations in three ways: via grants, "self-determination contracts" and "self-governance compacts." The accountability mechanisms differ according to the type of funding arrangement. In general, grants require substantial ongoing accountability to federal funders. Self-determination and self-governance funding requires significant upfront evidence of accountability capacity, but mandates few postfunding reporting requirements. These types of funding also give tribes greater flexibility in the use of funds. While reasonably successful, the transfer of funds from the federal government to tribal governments is not without difficulties. Nonetheless, the "mix" of funding opportunities available to tribal governments and the minimum accountability standards built into those funding arrangements appear to result in a set of incentives that keep most tribal governments out of financial difficulty. Additionally, these even support the growth of tribal government accountability to tribal citizens. In Canada, funding mechanisms comparable to self-determination contracts and self-governance compacts could incorporate a rights-based approach, consortia options for smaller First Nations and technical and financial support for administrative management systems.