Tribal Consultations

Letter sent to all Tribes regarding Tribal Consultation, OHA Regulations, 43 CFR Part 4:

The Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) is revising its procedural regulations located in Title 43 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 4. These regulations govern hearings and appeals proceedings before the Department of the Interior’s administrative tribunals–the Departmental Cases and Hearings Division (DCHD), the Probate Hearings Division (PHD), the Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA), the Interior Board of Lands Appeals (IBLA), and the OHA Director’s Office.

Your input is requested on these revisions, through which OHA seeks to:

  • Promote expeditious and impartial review of administrative decisions;
  • Reflect changes in the law;
  • Reorganize and retitle subparts to improve clarity;
  • Eliminate redundant language and outdated procedures; and
  • Keep pace with technological and other advancements, including the establishment of a regulatory framework for an electronic filing and case docket management system. 

The revisions and subpart-by-subpart analysis are enclosed with this letter.  The revisions improve OHA procedures by:

  • Expanding options for parties to file and serve documents electronically in proceedings before the IBIA, IBLA, DCHD, and the Director’s Office.
  • Retaining non-electronic filing options for tribal governments and pro se parties and clarifying non-electronic procedures.
  • Requiring attorneys and federal, state, and local governments to file documents electronically, except for good cause.
  • Retaining regular mail as the method for parties to file and receive documents in cases before PHD.
  • Updating subpoena procedures by specifying applicability to the production of documents, providing for service by registered or certified mail, and specifying that geographic limits do not apply when in-person attendance at a hearing is not required.
  • Where not already provided, making the filing date the date of mailing by the party, instead of the date of receipt by the OHA office, for the purpose of determining compliance with filing deadlines.
  • Delineating more procedures for hearings and appeals before the OHA Director.
  • Affirming OHA’s commitment to alternative dispute resolution in appropriate cases, which can avoid the necessity for further litigation or a hearing.
  • Streamlining the resolution of IBIA appeals by providing an option for the IBIA to affirm the result of the decision under review without a written opinion in certain circumstances.
  • Providing an option for IBIA appellants who have not received a final decision after 36 months to proceed to federal court without further exhaustion of administrative remedies.
  • Making revisions due to recent amendments to the probate regulations at 43 C.F.R. part 30 (2022) and BIA’s administrative appeal regulations at 25 C.F.R. part 2 (2023).
  • Updating and relocating the White Earth Reservation Land Settlement Act regulations to a separate subpart.
  • Making IBLA appeals processes easier to navigate by reordering regulations to track the chronological progression of an appeal.
  • Requiring the bureau or office that issued the decision on appeal before the IBLA to provide a copy of the record for the decision to the appellant no later than 60 days after service of the notice of appeal.
  • Streamlining the resolution of IBLA appeals by providing an option for the IBLA to affirm the result of the decision under review without a written opinion in certain circumstances.
  • Enhancing the efficient resolution of IBLA appeals by requiring appellants to demonstrate standing and timeliness when they file an appeal and to file any petition for stay at the same time they file an appeal.
  • Improving case processing before DCHD by establishing uniform, consistent procedures for all aspects of prehearing, hearing, and post-hearing adjudication that are modeled after the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure but tailored to administrative proceedings.
  • Codifying procedures for conducting DCHD hearings remotely using video technology.

The Department will hold two virtual consultations with the Indian Tribes on these regulatory changes on the following dates:

  • June 25, 2024, 11:00 a.m. Central Time

Meeting ID: 161 603 7373
Passcode: 970990
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  • July 1, 2024, 3:00 p.m. Central Time

Meeting ID: 161 558 5067
Passcode: 839880
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Letter sent regarding Tribal Consultations for WELSA:

The Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) has drafted amendments to the regulations pertaining to the determination of the heirs of any person who dies entitled to receive compensation under the White Earth Reservation Land Settlement Act of 1985 (WELSA). The amendments are designed to reflect current practices, take advantage of technological advances, and be more user friendly. The amendments and preamble explaining the amendments are enclosed with this letter.

To improve the determination process and better inform potential heirs, the WELSA Project Office, and presiding officials, the amendments include:

  • Converting the rules to a question-and-answer format under a new subpart, with more sections under several subheadings and more detail and clarity;
  • Creating procedures for reopening a closed case to correct errors, consistent with present practice; and
  • Providing for transmittal of documents by electronic means between the WELSA Project Director and OHA and between a party in interest and OHA if the party consents.

We are inviting you to a consultation session on one of the following dates:

  • June 10, 2024, 3:00 p.m. Central Time

Meeting ID: 160 496 9575
Passcode: 852008
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  • June 18, 2024, 10:00 a.m. Central Time

Meeting ID: 161 872 1317
Passcode: 198189
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