Greetings Relatives/Frens/Humans! The Navajo Nation Council Naabik’iyati Committee scheduled a Work Session on the $600 million in COVID-19 relief funds under the US CARES Act, Title 5.
The Work Session is being live streamed and so it will be available to be listened to later if you were unable to listen live.
The information presented by the Navajo Nation Chief Legislative Counsel and Navajo Department of Justice included a proposed template for non-government entities, such as Dine’ grassroots groups, to use to request for some of the $600 million.
Documents regarding how the $600M can be used as mandated by the US Treasury were emailed to Council Delegates, along with a power point from Navajo Justice Department regarding how the $600M must be spent because any portion of the $600M that is not spent according to Treasury guidelines must be reimbursed to the Treasury. And any funds not spent by December 30, 2020, revert back to the Treasury.
The Navajo Nation and other Indian Nations that received funds from this first round of distribution of CARES money can be sudited by the Inspector General for the Treasury.
I am trying to keep up with Work Session and will post my notes here after meeting is adjurned.
5.21.20 THURSDAY NAABI
NAVAJO NATION CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL DANA BOBROOF
About 11 pm mailed materials regarding CARES Act
As far as know, no Nez action.
It estab process for allocating $600M that Natin got from Us under Title 5 of CARES and emphasize that it is Title 5 and there are 6 Titels. Nation funding under Ttile 5 where specific rules and guidelines applies to $600M. 115-20 estab system for allocating $600M. Preocess theu one or more expenditure plans and be adopted by NNC by legislqatin and go to Nez who has line item veto over expenditure plan, which can be developed or NN govt pgms can be included, chaps, enterprises, NGOs.
Wat need focus on today, what are eligible expenditures under Title 5: Coronavirus Relief Fund.
Know lotof frustration when CDs ask if project eligible for funding under CARES.
COUNCIL DELEGATE KEE ALLEN BEGAY
Two things, wat exact date, time legislation sent to Prez. Is that bill subject to line item veto.
CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL DANA BOBROOF
I dk exact time. Goes thru legislative services, Manuel Rico or T. Platero answer. Line item veto: no, NN CARES Act not subject to line item veto. Expenditure plans under it, I think that may become legal question. If discuss further then do in executive session.
Certified and signed by me at 4:45 pm sent to EB which was 5.20.2-0.
JANA WARNER, TAX AND FINANCE, NDOJ
NDOJ going over power point. Title 5 on one page and five minute read.
Billion dollar aid for Tribes. Treadury distributed 6percent after May 5. This distribution on population. First Treasury request population, expenditures.
But first 50 percent distribution more than $600M. Treary held back 40 percent cuz litigation over Alaks corporations receive tunds. Remain 40 percent, 2019 employees and expenditure FY19.
Have to satisfy all requirements. If not meet all 3 requirements then NN repay US. That is realy impt to keep in mind and why Spkr invited NDOJ.
Shall be used only those costs at number 1 due to public health emgergency. Key words = necessary and
Point out not enough to say “related to covid”. The cost must be for actions responding to emergency.
Number 2, not as of March 27, means FY 29 CS 30 19.
Number 3, cost occurred march 1, Dec 30, 2020. Really impt and if prior to March 1 not eligible for CARES.
“This is a use or lose it situation. The clock is ticking.”
NDOJ here to make sure funds used for CARES under NN laws.
NAVAJO NATION ATTORNEY GENERAL
Thnnk you Mr Rotis
Pg 5 power point: guidance issued by Treasury April 22. This guidance sent to you last night, Ex B. CMY 44 20.
Pg 6, three points – statutes have three requirements and guidance expands on those three points. Necessary expenditure due to covid emergency. Treasury guidance says due ot public health emergency so for actions to respond to public health emergency and impacts such as employment, businesses.
Gets little complicated cuz later says cannot be used for revenue replacement so walk fine line regarding costs due to business interruption. Expenditures must be necessary.
Pg 7: expenditures necessary to covid but also expressly says treasury understand broadly and that “reasonable” which is where NN hang its hats, Decisions made by tribal leadership and I mean EB, LB, JB, decisions by resolution. Reasonable judgement of leadership.
Costs not accounted in 2020 budget. Make sure $600M not use for costs NN already planned for in 2020 budget. Costs ineligible if use existing line item in budget. One of things look for in expenditure – was this already accuotned for in 2020 budget.
Even if cost described in 2020 before substantial different use and in this way, expand and say that had line itme for supplies but now supplies for different use such as PPEs which is example of substantial use.
Revenue replacement is not allowed.
Expenses must be incurred March 1 to Dec 30, 2020.
Pg 11, Treasury specific about “incurred” and puts hard stop on Dec. 30 deadlilne. There is discussion to change deadlines and going back to congress to ask for amendment. Currently this is law dealing with and problematic for construction projects.
Treasury issued FAQ/frequently asked questions.
Pg 12: FAQ updated May 4, emailed to Delegates last night. 6.5 page document and has 31 qustions and answer.
Today discuss parts of Q&A but not inclusive.
There will be grey areas and not always black and white. Hope treasury release more info but this what we have to work with.
Pg 13 Nine questions
Government responsible to decide what expenditures necessary and not submit to Treasury.
No requirement to submit expenditure plans to Treasury.
For emplyees? Provide funds for unforeseen costs so cover employees but financial needs and risks unforeseen.
Pg 14, Costs not accounted for in 2020 budget unless costs for substantial different use means cost for personnel and services – so use for payroll costs assuming different responsibilities due to covid such as officers enforce curfew, teachers dev online learning, NDOJ having fixed budget for outside expenses and so NDOJ outside consultation.
Pg 15, no double dipping rule which is expenses reimbursed under other programs such as…fund payments may not use for loss revenue.
Pg 16 Many Navajo leaders discussing water projects, etc. Can funds be used for capital improvement projects in communities. Answer is in general is No. CIP projs not necessary. However may be used for expenses estab temp medical facilities. Again expenditure necessary and due to covid. Part of answer necessary to use for CIP is language about other covid measures.
Pg 17 This is prepayment question: Govt not make prepayments if not normally done. Under procurement rules we don’t prepay for services not performed so creates bit of timing problem and hope address in future.
Pg 18 Do govt have to return unspect funds? YES
Pg 19 Record Keeping: yes. Section 101B has three requirements which are costs necessary to covid, not in 2020 budget, and occurred from March 1 to December 30.
Pg 20 Act has special laws giving certain laws to Inspector General of Treasury and that Treasury guidelines for tribes, states, counties. So laws apply to states and counties. Congress appropriated $38M to Inspector General to carry out Act. See from that Congress serious aboutmaking sure funds spent properly.
Pg 22 Unused funds returned to Treasury. Point out that yes, Navajo Nation has to have cleqar ides where funds spent, uses as stated in Act. If audit then dk if happen. Navajo received lot of funds from Act. And so Inspector General cud look into whether reasonably necessary as defined by Navajo leadership. Be aware of that.
Pg 23 Refers to Second Distribution
Pg 24 Treasury release 60 percent based on population. Reamaining 40 percent is based on employment and expenditures so have to back up data originally sent to Treasury, 11:59 Tuesday deadline for data to be backed up. Need employment data which based on calendar year by quarters, number of employees, payroll data. Not include capital outlays and debt service costs. So basically all govt expenditures included as long as covid public health expenditures.
Pg 26 Expenditures – show math, how dollar amounts reached.
CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL DANA BOBROOF
Thank you Navajo Department of Justice.
The documents emailed are not attorney client privilege and you can share with chapters, etc. Ask for ducments in hard copies and binder.
Navajo NGOs DRAFT guidelines: Know Delegates receiving proposals from NGOs. This template for NGOs for proposals. Simple questions. Using Template easier for Council and other leadership to compare proposals.
First question is amount of funds NGO requiring.
How will funds be issued to NGO? Specific purposed for funds? How will funds respond to COVID? Funds used for overhead? Requested funds in budget for 2020 Budget? What dates funds fully expended?
Deadline is December 30. ID standing committee with oversight over funded activities. What pgms such as OMB monitor funds or Navajo division? Reporting requirements which involved committee, reports to OPVP, contact info. Board of Directors or organization resolution or proposal showing compliance with CARES Act requirements, etc.
10:47 AM TIME FOR QUESTIONS FROM COUNCIL DELEGATES (I MISSED SOME OF THE COMMENTS BY DELEGATES)
COUNCIL DELEGATE RAYMOND SMITH
Lot of laws in this and deadline come around in no time. Concerned with info Navajo Attorney General that is misuse then lose and if not use then lose.
As you know, Navajo Nation requires no payment up front and there is issue with late payments especially when money need be spent by Dec. 30. Such as contractors.
COUNCIL DELEGATE WILSON STEWART
We have employees with regular duties but doing something else.
CD RICKIE NEZ
If CIP necessary but guidelines says No. We understand water major issue and having our people have water. How give water if projects not eligible?
CD MARK FREELAND
Indian Health Services reported that there is not enough engineers to develop blueprints for our waterline projects which cud be deemed ineligible under Treasury COVID-19 guidelines for $600M.
CD EUGENE TSO
Here in Phoenix picking up donations for veterans.
This $600M has rules and so there are numerous other projects that the Nation can address besides CIP/capital improvement projects which the Treasury has decided that the $600M cannot be used for.
So lets start finishing up those projects.
CD DANIEL TSO
Kee said in Navajo that he expected that Navajo would have met with US Treasury on allowable and disallowable. One of attorneys reported info regarding Treasury and ask that the attorney explain what is allowable and not allowable.
NDOJ ATTORNEY, (MALE)
Are you referring to statement that Indian Nations not required to submit expenditure plants to Treasury.
CD DANIEL TSO
Yes and that Treasury
We can make legal arguments and give a list to Treasury for review for eligibility but will not work.
CD DANIEL TSO
Treat some of citizen projects related to water and power lines then would it be possible to spend for those citizens’ project.
CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL DANA BOBROOF
Speakers’ office asked for legal opinion on that question from Navajo justice department. Waiting for legal opinion.
NDOJ JANA WARNER
That opinion being drafted.
Asked if Sihasin projects cud be funded. In general, saying no to Sihasin cuz not part of Navajo budget. So next question which Sihasin projects eligible if reasonably recessary, due to covid emgergency, part of amitigation to address such as CDC water washing, social distancing. So with Sihasin pojrects, case by case analysis using Bobroof check list of if to respond to covid.
CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL DANA BOBROOF
Add to Daniel Tso question, that bill does not authorize use of water and power lines and not use Sihasin word…
CD OTTO TSO
THE OTHER is housing. How justify housing for several families who become positive because of a family member that tests positive. So want for housing and need help justifying housing, such as mobile homes.
CD KEE ALLEN BEGAY
I think there needs to be response to community regarding their comments. Chapters submitted resolutions. We haven’t even read their comments.
CD EUGENIA CHARLES NEWTON
Ask that NDOJ and Chief Legislative Counsel create power point regarding all the information they provided on how to spend $600M CARES Act funds.
CD DANIEL TSO
NHA, NECA, NAPI, how much money they received thru CARES Act?
Also did some legislatin to help Dine’ College, NTU, Gaming, Navajo Arts & Crafts. Get report on what they received and how they plan to use and put on spread sheet. So no double funding work in progress.
SPEAK SETH DAMON
That will be emailed to enterprises today.
Mr Mel Rotis expert on $600M guidelines regarding what can and cannot be spent.
Any staff from OPVP regarding expenditure of $600M?
On Monday, we said we would reach out to President and that is what we did.
CHIEF JUSTICE REPORT
PRESENTED by Stephen Etcitty and Roman Bitsuie,peacemaking, STEPHEN ETCITTY are here to provide information and explain where Judicial Branch is where regarding $600M based on guidance this morning.
The Judicial Branch has been responding to public health emergency since beginning of March to get heads around situation and end of March completed continuity of services which emphasized health guidelines, sheltering in place.
Our JB orders focused on telecommunicating from access points, mainly home. When implemented in March, primary goal is keep staff safe and for public that needs access courts. Our goal is get to 95 to 100 percent telecommunicating based on meeting orders. Everything learned on mitigating community spread and worked on for two months so providing essential services. JB has scaled back served but not stopped operations.
Focus on 8 responsibilities and case request such as domestic violence and others such as curfew citations which is to mitigate and contain spread among communities and people.
Our goal has been reinforced by increasing positive cases and not yet at peak and understand following best info available for Health Dept and Health Command.
We know beyond 90 day partial closure and understand last until effective and safe vaccine available for everyone across US.
This forcing JB to follow initial goal of telecommunicating. Good month and half of working out issues of what takes to work from home, access courts, conduct hearings. Lot of these requirements return to need for equipment to operate via telecommunications. Give staff tools to work from home.
We see opportunity of CARES Act as potential relief to provide necessary relief. Didn’t have these expenditures in our budget. We under what is eligible, deadline.
What we focusing is ability of JB to respond during pandemic. Looking at increasing JB address public health needs, operate to mitigate public health conditions. We have ID areas where $600M cud be used and ID budgets for eventual submission after understand process. We are looking at keeping workforce safe and our responsibility for public that needs to use courts, probation, parole services, judges, peacemaking.
Usually people conduct business with JB by face to face but now cannot so resulted in IT communication support. Never foreseen in 2020 budget and everything doing now is to mitigate spread.
We want to tell our Delegates that JB is separate and co-equal branch of Navajo government. Important that everyone understand and practice judicial independence for judges and all that help courts to continue to be fair and impartial so cautious regarding positions taken by Council and so we tred carefully when recommendation expenditure of $600M.
But JB has proposal based on Treasury guidelines.
In March we submitted budget to 0008-20 passed by Council and vetoed by President Nez but we continued to look at need which has grown. What we initially requested was the beginning to mitigate spread. Now reviewed needs and expanded scope of needs to include judicial partners with offices and programs such as prosecutors, social services, IT. Much of core of JB case management for all courts and officers of courts is housed in equipment overseen and maintained by partnership with IT and JB IF.
We have kept this partnership at forefront and at core of what doing to work off site. We have data system and still lot of work on reliable access for essential services.
At some point, plan for expansion of services. Now at two months and there is backlog and we cannot continue to backlog cases but we must have system to protection public as provide more services so more investment in IT structure and remodify work spaces to comply with social distancing.
We also know federal guidelines on return to work always evolving from CDC, USEPA, employment laws which adds to new costs. When comes to supplies, we continually assessing need keep inventory of cleaning supplies and PPEs when accept documents and other info regarding cases from outside so need reliable supply of cleaning supplies and PPEs especially with reopening of buildings. See reopenings across country and that will impact JB.
We have draft budgets that we review and update that will highlight needs and continued support for JB to continue operating.
JUDICIAL BRANCH REPRESENTATIVE ROMAN BITSUIE
We do weekly updates and there are committees established in JB to deal with funding, which is matrix committee – CARES Act matrix, which looks at all requests from district and score and prioritize. We have five categories.
Will projed or activity improve Navajo response or provide central services impacted by crisis? Payroll; public safety, cost to sanitize PPEs, equipment,
Is the expense eligible and can be completed by Dec. 30.
Does the activity create solution to services impacted by covid? Is the money being used efficiency or is there another funding source other than CARES? Is it a need long seen as essential service or made unavailable by covid?
Under matrix is project name, criteria, project ranking and score attached and priority of recommendation. Different proposals are coming in from JB districts.
JUDICIAL BRANCH REPRESENTATIVE STEPHEN ETCITTY
Clear in our branch, districts that the use and expenditure of public funds must be subject to public view so encourage transparency when comes to public funds. As appropriators you understsnd fiduciary responsibility and we do as in law and trust placed in them by public. Our duty not to breach trust of Navajo people and what we include as we think thru opportunities CARES funds provides for us. Appreciate oversight of federal inspector general and aware of deadline. I know many of you interested in seeing documents which are in draft and not finalized. But we will get to you by end of week. We had meeting to finalize what Roman presented verbally. Sorry unable to provide today but send in couple of days.
Same with budgets, we began early March on needs assement, $103,000 and Council aprpvoed and vetoed> With CARES range from $5M to $10M to expand telecommunicating basis and planning for reopening of courts and move beyond essential services to add more services to our plate, support personnel if contact covid, keep public safe. We don’t want to force people to leave safety of homes unnecessarily so educate how access courts via internet even if have no personal internet.
What JB can help entire Navajo Nation and people. We definitely see investment of some of $600M on telecommunications.
SPEAKER SETH DAMON
Council will need as begin debate on expenditure plans and so need those documents to understand JB needs especially keeping public safe.
CD EUGENIA CHARLES NEWTON
Sad EB not taking care of JB. I know Council supported JB with funds and unfortunately President Nez vetoed. I understand the JB must remain unbiased.
US Supreme Court never goes before Congress. There is three Branch agreement and those funds are automatic. Why is the JB, if a third branch of Navajo govt, under the Council’s Law and Order Committee oversight?
JB equipment more than five years old, almost rebuilt to support their needs. Hope we can help them with their needs and being up to same level as other branches.
We will have healthy debate regarding water projects tomorrow at 9 am We will have Indian Health Services, Navajo Housing Authority, enterprises and programs report updates on water projects. Meeting adourned at 12:57 pm.