Office of Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Obligations Imposed by the Tribal Law and Order Act Of 2010 upon SAMHSA
Executive Summary

Executive Summary:

The Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) was signed into law by President Obama on July 29, 2010. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Indian Affairs Committee Chairman sponsored the bill in response to what he said is a crisis situation on Indian Reservations, where violent crime continues to devastate communities at rates much higher than the national average.

In a number of ways, the purpose of the TLOA is to institutionalize reforms within the federal government so that justice, safety, education, youth, and alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment issues, remain the subject of consistent focus not only in the current Administration, but also in future Administrations.    The Act requires a significant amount of interagency coordination and collaboration among DOJ  DOI (BIA/BIE), Office of the Attorney General and HHS

However, the Act focuses not only on prosecution but also on prevention.  The Act reauthorizes and amends the Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (IASA).

Through the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 Congress sought to engage new federal partners to build upon previous efforts in addressing alcohol and substance abuse in Indian country.   As a result, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Attorney General, are to develop and enter into a MOA to, among other things:

  1. Determine the scope of the alcohol and substance abuse problems faced by American Indians and Alaska Natives;
  2. Identify the resources and programs of each agency that would be relevant to a coordinated effort to combat alcohol and substance abuse among American Indians and Alaska Natives; and
  3. Coordinate existing agency programs with those established under the Act.

This provision directs SAMHSA to take the lead role in interagency coordination and collaboration on tribal substance abuse programs.

SAMHSA will establish and appoint a Director of the Office of Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse and appoint an Indian Youth Program Officer and other staff as maybe necessary to enable the Office to carry out the responsibilities under the law.

This Office will collaborate in the development of a framework for setting interagency communication goals, and provide technical assistance to tribal governments to develop and enhance alcohol and substance abuse prevention / treatment programs.

As a core effort of this collaboration, the federal partners will develop and maintain a sustainable partnership infrastructure that enables these various resources to be more fully engaged and coordinated to offer a truly holistic approach in support of tribal alcohol and substance abuse efforts to American Indians and Alaska Natives.  The focus will be to (a) help to identify opportunities and programs relevant to Indian tribes and Native communities, (b) address issues of concern to Indian tribes and Native communities related to alcohol and substance abuse, (c) serve as a focal point within the Federal government for coordination, collaboration and outreach on alcohol and substance abuse issues affecting the American Indian, Alaska Native population nationwide, and (d) serve as a liaison advisory body to the federal partners responsible for providing programs and services in Indian Country relative to alcohol and substance abuse.   

To accomplish these goals, SAMHSA sought to establish an Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee (IASA Committee) to include key agency representation from SAMHSA, IHS, OJP, OTJ, BIA, BIE, and ED.  To date, the committee is also represented by AoA and ACF within HHS.  The IASA Committee has created an organizational structure to include workgroups to carry out the work of the IASA Committee. 


Last updated: 08/12/2011