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Southcentral Foundation v. Roubideaux

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 23, 2013

SOUTHCENTRAL FOUNDATION, an Alaskan corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
YVETTE ROUBIDEAUX, DIRECTOR, U.S. INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR IMMEDIATE INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

SHARON L. GLEASON, District Judge.

Before the Court at Docket 3 is a motion filed by Plaintiff Southcentral Foundation (SCF). Although entitled a motion for a preliminary injunction, SCF is seeking mandamus relief in the form of an order that requires the immediate payment to it from a federal official of additional funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 for the Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI) and the Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative (DVPI). The Defendant is Yvette Roubideaux, the Director of the Indian Health Service ("IHS" or "Defendant"). After this litigation was filed, IHS agreed to pay SCF approximately $1.08 million of the disputed funds. Still disputed is approximately $449, 000 in funding. On September 27, 2013, the Court heard oral argument on the motion. Having considered the documents filed with the Court, the law, and the arguments of counsel, the Court will deny the motion for the reasons set forth herein.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A central issue in this action is whether the Indian Self-Determination Act (ISDA) applies to the funding of MSPI and DVPI. Under Title V of the ISDA, the Secretary of the Interior enters into contracts with willing tribes, pursuant to which those tribes provide programs or services that otherwise would have been provided by the federal government.[1] The ISDA requires that the government provide contracting tribes with an amount of funds equivalent to those that the government would have incurred had it provided the programs or services, as well as the "full amount" of "contract support costs" incurred by the tribes in performing the contracts.[2] Plaintiff SCF is a tribal organization that is authorized to enter into ISDA contracts with IHS.[3]

In FY 2008, Congress appropriated funds for IHS to allocate to address problems involving methamphetamine use and suicide among Native Americans.[4] Specifically, in Public Law 110-161, Congress appropriated these funds as follows:

That $14, 000, 000 is provided for a methamphetamine and suicide prevention and treatment initiative [MSPI].... Provided further, That notwithstanding any other provision of law, these funds shall be allocated outside all other distribution methods and formulas at the discretion of the Director of the Indian Health Service and shall remain available until expended [.][5]

In the related House Report, the appropriations committee explained: "The Committee expects the Directors of [IHS] and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to distribute this funding outside of the normal formulas and methodologies to target the areas with the highest needs in Indian Country."[6]

In FY 2009, Congress again appropriated funds for MSPI, and added funds for the Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative (DVPI). The appropriation used slightly different language from the prior year:

That $16, 391, 000 is provided for the [MSPI] and $7, 500, 000 is provided for the [DVPI] and, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the amounts available under this proviso shall be allocated at the discretion of the Director of the Indian Health Service and shall remain available until expended[.][7]

Appropriations by Congress in later FYs contain similar language.[8]

On April 28, 2009, IHS circulated "Area Guidance for Distribution of [FY] 2008 and [FY] 2009" MSPI funds.[9] The correspondence included proposed sample language to allocate the funds using amendments to the ISDA contracts. IHS indicated that it adopted this approach at the request of the tribes, instead of a competitive grant process.[10]

The proposed amendment stated, in part:

The Director of the IHS has decided to fund one-time, non-recurring demonstration projects intended to expand community-level access to effective Tribal methamphetamine and suicide prevention and treatment programming. The Director of the IHS solicited proposals from Tribes and as a consequence of that solicitation, has elected to fund the [Tribe]'s proposal.
* * *
However, notwithstanding any provision of the [Tribe]'s compact or contract and [Funding Agreement]..., the following terms and conditions shall apply to the use of these funds. By signing this Amendment, both parties agree:
1. The MSPI funds in the [Funding Agreement] are part of a non-recurring, one-time allocation, and ...

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