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Joint Venture Construction Program Application Process Moves Forward to Next Phase

by Gary Hartz, P.E., Director of the Office of Environmental Health and Engineering, Indian Health Service

For more than two decades, the IHS Joint Venture Construction Program has strengthened partnerships with tribes across the country and expanded access to comprehensive, culturally acceptable health services for American Indian and Alaska Native people.

The program allows tribes or tribal organizations to acquire, construct, or renovate a health care facility and lease it to the IHS, at no cost, for a period of 20 years. Participants in this competitive program are selected from among eligible applicants who agree to provide an appropriate facility to IHS. Joint Venture projects are selected competitively using a two-step process.

There are 650 IHS and tribal health care facilities. Some of these facilities are outdated, undersized and in need of replacement.   For many tribal communities, the IHS Joint Venture Construction Program has offered benefits such as expanded access for American Indians and Alaska Natives, renovated facilities, and the creation of new jobs.

Last year, the IHS Office of Environmental Health and Engineering posted a solicitation for Joint Venture Construction Program pre-applications, the first step (phase I) in the process. IHS has received several inquiries about the status of the 2019 Joint Venture Construction Program pre-application selection process.

The phase I pre-application process determined if the proposed project is eligible for consideration and has the potential for successful competitive selection.  IHS received 43 project phase I pre-applications in 2019. 

The submittals were reviewed by IHS for compliance with the eligibility requirements.  IHS then scored the pre-applications and rank ordered them. The top-ranked applicants were invited to submit phase II applications for consideration. 

The pre-applications submitted had scores ranging from 104 to 490.  The 10 applicants notified to submit a Phase II final application had scores greater than 235.

The phase II application process requires the applicant to provide more detailed planning material on their proposed project than what was provided in the pre-application phase.

The phase II application process requires the applicants to demonstrate administrative and financial capabilities to accomplish the proposed joint venture project.  An IHS and tribal review panel will evaluate and rate all of the applications using established rating factors.  The factors are (1) relative need, (2) ability to fund project, (3) ability to manage project, and (4) ability to complete project on schedule. None of the members on the review panel have an interest in the proposed projects. Approximately three to five applicants will be selected into the program.

For questions or more information on the Joint Venture Construction Program, please contact or visit the IHS Joint Venture Construction Program site.

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Gary Hartz, P.E., Director of the Office of Environmental Health and Engineering, Indian Health Service
Gary J. Hartz, P.E., is the director of the IHS Office of Environmental Health and Engineering. He leads IHS efforts to provide functional, well maintained health care facilities and staff housing, technical and financial assistance to tribes on safe water and wastewater systems, and a broad range of environmental health and injury prevention activities throughout Indian Country.