On June 24, 2013, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced in the attached FEDERAL REGISTER notice the availability of the draft handbook titled “NOAA Procedures for Government-to-Government Consultation with Federally Recognized Indian Tribes.” NOAA’s purview includes, among other things of interest to tribes and tribal originations, the National Weather Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Webinars to discuss the draft handbook are detailed in the attached Dear Tribal Leader Letter and are scheduled for July 17 and August 13. Written comments are requested by August 23.
The draft handbook comes on the heels of the broader, Department-wide tribal consultation policy published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on June 4, 2013 (attached). The Department of Commerce’s FEDERAL REGISTER notice includes both the finalized version of their consultation policy as well as a summary of comments received in response to their request for comments published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on July 3, 2012. In addition to NOAA, the Department of Commerce has other agencies which affect tribes and tribal communities including: the Minority Business Development Agency; the Economic Development Administration; the Economics and Statistics Administration (including the Census Bureau); and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. While NOAA has published a draft handbook, we have not seen any indication as to whether these other agencies will follow suit with their own handbooks.
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act which was last reauthorized in 2007, is only authorized through FY 2013. When it is reauthorized, NOAA will need to draft implementing regulations. During this process, tribal consultation can play a key role in shaping the new regulations. Please let us know if we may provide additional information regarding the draft handbook titled “NOAA Procedures for Government-to-Government Consultation with Federally Recognized Indian Tribes” or if we may be of assistance drafting comments.