Skip to site content

Joint Venture Construction Program: Constructing New Health Care Facilities, Increasing Access to Care in Partnership with Tribes

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 Office of Environmental Health and Engineering recently posted a solicitation for Joint Venture Construction Program applications. All federally recognized tribes are eligible to apply.

The highly competitive program enables a partnership wherein a tribe constructs, acquires, or renovates a facility using non-IHS funds, and IHS requests funding from Congress to staff, operate and maintain the facility for 20 years. More than 25 tribes have partnered to provide more than 30 facilities, from health centers to hospitals, providing increased access to quality health care services for their communities.

The program began in 1991 to highlight the potential of cooperative efforts between the IHS and tribes. A demonstration project was developed to assist tribes and tribal organizations desiring to use tribal funds to increase the level of health care services provided to their population. The first congressionally approved joint venture project between IHS and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs resulted in a 37,246 square foot health and wellness center constructed in 1993. The project was completed on schedule and below budget. Tribal leaders reported a very positive experience, stating “this health and wellness center will forever be a source of community pride because it truly belongs to our community.”

With the success of this demonstration project, IHS established the JVCP for future projects. The JVCP became an opportunity for adding healthcare space across the country for American Indians and Alaska Natives as an alternative to the Healthcare Facilities Construction Priority System.

IHS is currently accepting pre-applications from tribes for Fiscal Year 2020. The pre-application phase is used to determine if the proposed project is eligible for consideration and has the potential for successful competitive selection. For more information on program requirements and evaluation criteria, please visit the Division of Facilities Planning and Construction’s “Programs” page .

Related content:

Recognizing the 60th Anniversary of the Indian Sanitation Facilities Act

Office of Environmental Health and Engineering recognizes outstanding employees

Update on Tribal Consultation for the Sanitation Deficiency System Guide

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.