2000- GAO Report: FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT- Issues Affecting Coverage for Tribal Self-Determination Contracts

“Federal regulations implementing FTCA prescribe the process that federal agencies must follow in resolving claims arising from the negligent or wrongful acts of federal employees. With the extension of FTCA coverage to tribal contractors, tribal employees under a self-determination contract are considered federal employees for the purpose of FTCA coverage. According to FTCA regulations, claims are subject first to an administrative
review and determination by the federal agency whose actions gave rise to the claim. At the administrative level, the departments of the Interior and of Health and Human Services handle these claims. If a claim is not resolved administratively, a lawsuit may be filed in federal court, where the Department of Justice would defend it. Administrative and legal settlements may be paid from agency funds, the U.S. Treasury, or tribes’
private liability insurance if duplicative coverage exists.

Data on FTCA claims involving tribal contractors are not readily available because neither Interior nor Health and Human Services is required to track these claims separately from FTCA claims involving federal employees. However, in response to our request for claims data, these departments identified 342 claims, filed from fiscal years 1997 through 1999, that arose from programs contracted from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service.”