Ensure effective coordination and consultation with Tribes on broadband related issues
Status: In progress
The Executive Branch, the Federal Communications Commission and Congress should consider making changes to ensure effective coordination and consultation with Tribes on broadband related issues.
- The Executive Branch should establish a Federal-Tribal Broadband Initiative through which the federal government can coordinate both internally and directly with Tribal governments on broadband-related policies, programs and initiatives.
- The FCC should increase its commitment to government-to-government coordination with Tribal leaders.
- Congress and the FCC should consider increasing Tribal representation in telecommunications planning.
- Federal agencies should facilitate Tribal access to broadband funding opportunities.
- The FCC and Congress should support technical training and development on Tribal lands.
- The federal government should improve the quality of data on broadband in Tribal lands.
Government-to-Government Coordination and Consultation
Because broadband is a critical input to the achievement of goals in many areas, including education, health care, public safety and economic development, the federal government should establish a Federal-Tribal Broadband Initiative to coordinate both internally and directly with Tribal governments on broadband-related policies, programs and initiatives.
The initiative will include elected Tribal leaders or their appointees and officials from relevant federal departments and agencies.
The FCC should create an FCC-Tribal Broadband Task Force consisting of senior FCC staff and elected Tribal leaders or their appointees to carry out its commitment to promoting government-to-government relations.
The task force will assist in developing and executing an FCC consultation policy, ensure that Tribal concerns are considered in all proceedings related to broadband and develop additional recommendations for promoting broadband deployment and adoption on Tribal lands.
The FCC should also create an FCC Office of Tribal Affairs to consult regularly with Tribal leaders, to develop and drive a Tribal agenda in coordination with other FCC bureaus and offices and to manage the FCC-Tribal Broadband Task Force.
The Secretary of Agriculture should complete the department's ongoing consultation process with Tribes and implement provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill relating to substantially underserved trust areas for all broadband funding programs.
Congress should consider amending the Communications Act to establish a Tribal seat on the Universal Service Fund Joint Board.
The FCC should establish a Tribal seat on the USAC Board of Directors.
Technical Training for Tribes
Congress should consider additional annual funding for the FCC to expand the Indian Telecommunications Initiatives' Tribal workshops and roundtables to include sessions on education, technical support and assistance with broadband initiatives.
In order to help Tribes acquire technical knowledge and expertise, Congress should also consider additional annual funding to allow Tribal representatives to participate in FCC University training programs at no cost.
Improving Data on Tribal Lands
The FCC should identify methods for collecting and reporting broadband information that is specific to Tribal lands, working with Tribes to ensure that any information collected is accurate and useful.
In the interim, the FCC should immediately coordinate discussions between broadband providers and Tribal governments to develop a process for Tribes to receive information about services on Tribal lands.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration should provide Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA) planning and mapping grantees with guidance on how to work with Tribes to obtain data about Tribal lands, and ensure that Tribal governments have the opportunity to review mapping data about Tribal lands and offer supplemental data or corrections.
Congress should consider allowing NTIA to provide separate grants to Tribes or their designees for any purpose permitted under the BDIA, including future planning and mapping projects on Tribal lands.