Remarks as prepared for delivery
Good morning. My name is Stuart Delery and I am the Acting Associate Attorney General. Among other things, I oversee the department’s civil litigation units as well as the grant-making components such as the Office of Justice Programs, the Community Oriented Policing Office and the Office on Violence Against Women. These organizations all deal with a broad array of criminal justice issues and they support funding for programs that promote public safety.
I’d like to thank the National Congress of American Indians for organizing this briefing and all of you for your interest in the Department of Justice’s efforts to support our tribal partners. In particular, we appreciate the bipartisan support from members of Congress for the programs we are discussing today, including from the members who are addressing you during today’s forum.
The work we’re doing covers every area of public safety in Indian country – from assisting victims, registering sex offenders, supporting native women and protecting children and youth, to hiring tribal police officers, conducting research, analyzing and reporting data and strengthening tribal criminal and juvenile justice systems. We’re making a concerted effort to address all aspects of criminal and juvenile justice in American Indian and Alaska Native communities – and to work in close partnership with tribal governments toward this end.
Over the course of this Administration, the Justice Department has worked hard to strengthen its relationship with tribal nations. We’ve created a Tribal Nations Leadership Council to improve dialogue with tribal governments on issues critical to Indian country. Last year, we adopted a Statement of Principles that affirms our determination to help tribes fight crime.
We established a working group to ensure that victims of federal crime in Indian country receive all the rights and services to which they are entitled.
Through our National Indian Country Training Initiative, we’re bringing the latest information on issues like child abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking to tribes at no cost. We’re enlisting tribal prosecutors as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys, enabling them to bring cases in both tribal and federal court.
We’re partnering with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to address alcohol and substance abuse as prescribed by the Tribal Law and Order Act. We’ve worked to protect water rights and natural resources on tribal lands and helped preserve native cultural and religious practices. And we’re mobilizing to respond to recommendations from the American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence Advisory Committee.
We’ve also greatly expanded access to the Department’s many funding resources. As you may know, in 2010 the department developed the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation – which we refer to as CTAS.
The idea behind CTAS is to streamline the grants process for American Indian and Alaska Native communities, putting Indian nations on a level playing field when it comes to applying for Department of Justice resources.
Indeed, CTAS was launched in direct response to concerns raised by tribal leaders about the department’s grant process not providing the flexibility tribes needed to address their criminal justice and public safety needs. Through CTAS, federally recognized tribes and tribal consortia submit a single application for most of the Department of Justice’s tribal grant programs.
Every year, we’ve made a substantial number of awards to tribes under this program – and we are continuing that commitment this year. I’m pleased to announce today that we are awarding 206 grants totaling more than $97 million to support 116 separate tribes. This will bring the total number of CTAS grants since the program’s inception to more than 1,400 and the total funding amount to more than $620 million.
For the past five years, the CTAS program has helped tribes develop their own comprehensive approaches to making their communities safer and healthier. CTAS grants have funded hundreds of programs to better serve crime victims, promote community policing, prevent crime and strengthen justice systems. This year’s awards also support efforts to reduce domestic and dating violence and to promote wellness and healing for tribal youth, among many other programs.
I’m especially pleased that, more than any previous year, this year’s award recipients reflect a true cross-section of the applicants, which included large and small tribes from across the country. For instance, the Pueblo of Jemez in New Mexico will receive more than $2.6 million to develop comprehensive victim services, support juvenile healing to wellness courts and tackle several other public safety priorities. And the Bishop Paiute Tribe in California is being awarded more than $2.5 million to hire additional law enforcement officers and address violence against women, among other critical activities.
Relatedly, through training and technical assistance, we are amplifying our efforts to ensure that tribes with fewer resources to devote to grant applications can be successful.
In December 2014 during the Office of Victims of Crime’s Indian’s Nation Conference and in advance to 2015 grant cycle, the department invited all tribes who had regularly applied to CTAS and were unsuccessful to a special day-long training session on grant application writing.
Fifteen of the twenty-four tribes, 62.5 percent, who attended applied again for CTAS funding and five were selected for funding this year. We greet this initial effort with enthusiasm and expect to build upon this effort in future years in the hope of achieving even higher percentages of successful tribal applicants.
These awards reflect our strong commitment to expanding access to Department of Justice programs and giving underserved tribes an opportunity to compete for federal resources.
Mindful of the need to make the funding flexible and more widely available, we continue to refine CTAS to ease the administrative burdens placed on tribes. This year, we timed the solicitation’s release to avoid competing with deadlines for other large federal grant programs.
We also authorized tribes to request future-year funding to build on approved strategic plans. And we expanded opportunities for tribes to engage in activities related to jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence, as authorized by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.
Our overriding interest is to give our tribal partners the tools they need to keep their communities safe. To that end, we will continue to consult with tribal leaders to make sure our resources are reaching those who need them and making the biggest impact possible.
I look forward to hearing your ideas on how we can improve our response and I’m eager to move ahead on behalf of the native people of our country.