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Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives

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     Indian Health Manual

Part 4, Chapter 5:  Manual Appendix 4-5.6D(1)(a)iv

Extra Indian Health Service Relationships Part I:  Liaison
Part II:  Indian Health Service Replies to
Congressional and other Specified Correspondence

Knowledge of the policies and actions of organizations and individuals interested and active in Indian Affairs is vital to sound planning by Indian Health Service.  Knowledge of a single such policy or action is effective only if shared among those in the Indian Health Service who are concerned and viewed in terms of the Indian Health Service programs at all levels.  The Office of Tribal Affairs serves as the Indian Health Service focal point for information pertaining to contacts with a number of organizations and individuals interested and active in Indian affairs.

The Office of Tribal Affairs develops and maintains liaison with a variety of organizations and individuals.  Shown below is a list representing the range of such contacts.

  1. American Indians and Alaska Natives
    1. Tribal and inter-tribal governing bodies and sub-divisions
    2. Tribal Attorneys
    3. Tribal business managers
    4. Other attached tribal representatives
    5. On Reservation consumers
    6. Off Reservation and Urban Indians
  2. Visitation by individual tribal members or tribal delegations to Indian Health Service Headquarters.
    1. That effective communications be maintained between Area and Headquarters, Office of Tribal Affairs regarding visitation by delegations representing American Indians and Alaska Natives.  The initiation of immediate feedback from Headquarters to the Area Office of Tribal Affairs by telephone or wire, followed by a summary of meeting minutes, contacts, commitments, follow-up, etc., is imperative.

      As soon as a tribal group is known to be coming to Headquarters, the OTA will:

      1. Contact Area OTA to identify existing problems or concern.
      2. Ascertain from tribal group, subject areas they wish to discuss.
      3. Set up appointment and notify appropriate offices.
      4. Arrange for transportation.
      5. Take minutes of meeting.
      6. Immediate feedback to Area OTA.

        Et cetera.

  3. Federal Government
    1. Congressional representatives
    2. Federal Agencies
  4. State and local governments
  5. Non-governmental organizations
  6. Other public groups as indicated by need

APPENDIX 4-5.6D(l)(a)iv,
Chapter 5




    Replies to correspondence from interest groups is an integral part of the Office of Tribal Affairs activities at the Headquarters level.  As such, that office has two major objectives.

    1. To establish and implement an effective and efficient system for Indian Health Service response to formal correspondence from Congressmen and their staffs and to correspondence from other Interested Parties (Appendix 4-5.6D(1)(a)(iv), Part I).
    2. To establish and implement an effective and efficient mechanism for Indian Health Service utilization of information contained in this correspondence (See A, above) in order to identify program strengths and corrective actions.

    Responsibility for developing a response to interest group correspondence is assigned by the Director, Indian Health Service, to the Director, Office of Tribal Affairs.

    1. Congressional Correspondence

      In keeping with current Indian Health Service practices, Congressional correspondence received at Service Headquarters is routed to the Office of Tribal Affairs.  Within the Office of Tribal Affairs procedures for processing Congressional correspondence are as follows:

      1. A logging-in procedure is followed.  Information thus obtained is analyzed in terms of preventive and/or corrective action.
      2. After being logged, Congressional correspondence is reviewed by the Office of Tribal Affairs which determines appropriate and expeditious courses of action necessary for preparing responses.  Congressional correspondence shall be responded to within 6 working days as directed by Departmental policy, unless directed otherwise.  The response shall consist of either: the answer, or an interim reply explaining briefly the plan of action for obtaining desired information.  Replies should be timely, positive, responsive, congenial and helpful, and questions asked should be completely and accurately answered.
      3. When the subject matter of a piece of correspondence pertains to the activity or responsibility of a particular Office or Branch in the Service, that Office or Branch will normally be assigned the responsibility of preparing an appropriate response.
      4. Responses to controlled correspondence are ordinarily prepared in draft and cleared by the appropriate Office or Branch, Division Director, and the Office of the Service Director.
    2. Correspondence from other “Interested Parties”

      Correspondence received from Interested Parties, unless specifically addressed to another Office, Branch, or individual, is routed to the Office of Tribal Affairs.  That Office then:

      1. Logs in the correspondence.
      2. Makes appropriate referrals to other Offices and Branches for participation in preparing responses, or if appropriate;
      3. Prepares replies directly.
      4. Distributes copies to Headquarters and Area Offices concerned.
    3. Tribal Resolutions and related correspondence
      1. Letters and resolutions from tribal leaders and organizations should be directed to the Office of Tribal Affairs, where they are assigned a control number similar to the procedure followed in Congressional correspondence.
      2. Where a reply is indicated the same promptness and responsiveness is expected as in Congressional correspondence.
      3. When copies of such correspondence are referred by the Areas to headquarters, copies should be addressed to the Office of Tribal Affairs.
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