Native American Affairs Program

Native American Affairs Technical Assistance Program
(and Program Criteria)

Providing Technical Assistance to Federally Recognized Indian Tribes

Featured Resources:
Technical Assistance Program
Current and Prior Year Funding Opportunity Announcements
Successful Proposals Approved for Funding
Program Criteria (Current as of 2022)

Reclamation has various programs which provide technical assistance to a broad range of entities, such as the Drought Assistance, Wetlands, and Water Recycling Programs.  Indian Tribes are eligible for most of these programs and, through them, much assistance has been provided to Tribes.  One program is available only to federally recognized Indian Tribes—the Native American Affairs Technical Assistance Program (TAP).

Reclamation's Native American Affairs TAP provides technical assistance to assist Indian Tribes to develop, manage, and protect their water and related resources.  The program has supported a broad range of activities in each year since its inception in the early 1990s.  Such activities have included water needs assessments, improved water management studies, water quality data collection and assessments, and water measurement studies.  Total annual funding for the Native American Affairs TAP ranges between $2 and $3 million.

Work under the Native American Affairs TAP may be carried out in different ways.  Sometimes the work is performed by Reclamation under cooperative working relationships with Indian Tribes, which provide the Tribes with opportunities to benefit from Reclamation's technical expertise and resources.  Other times, the work is carried out by Indian Tribes under Public Law 93-638.  Alternatively, assistance may be provided in the form of training to enhance Tribal members’ knowledge and expertise in the use, protection, and development of water resources.  Work may also be carried out in partnership with other governmental or non-governmental entities, thereby enabling assistance provided to Tribes with greater efficiency.

While program direction and leadership for the Native American Affairs TAP is provided by Reclamation's Native American and International Affairs Office (NAIAO) within the Commissioner’s Office, the program is implemented through Regional and Area Offices.  The Area Office Native American Affairs Program Coordinators work with their Regional Program Managers and Indian Tribes to develop project proposals, which are submitted for consideration for funding.  Budgetary constraints limit the number of projects which can be funded each year. 

Each technical assistance activity considered for the Native American Affairs TAP must satisfy "Program Criteria."  Those criteria, current and prior year Funding Opportunity Announcements, and successful proposals approved for funding can all be found below.

Note:  Program criteria are listed further below and are also listed in each year’s Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA).

Note:  Program criteria are also listed in each year’s Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA).

  • Funding contributions by the Native American Affairs Technical Assistance Program (NAA TAP) are limited to $400,000 per tribe.

  • Activities funded under the NAA TAP must pertain to the management, protection, or development of water and related resources for federally recognized Indian Tribes.

  • Feasibility studies (as defined under Reclamation law) shall not be funded.

  • Construction shall not be funded.  (Note that activities which, in the aggregate, total $400,000 or less, are not deemed to be construction for purposes of program administration.)

  • Only definable products will be funded; no specific positions or activities within Indian Tribes will be funded.

  • Only discrete projects with durations of 2 years or less will be funded.

  • No activities will be funded that generate data or analyses having the potential for compromising any study or activity of a Department of the Interior Indian water rights negotiation, or the Department of Justice in its pursuit of related Indian water claims.  (If in doubt, the Reclamation member of the Federal Negotiations Team should be consulted.)

  • No activity will be funded for non-Federal dams or structures.

  • No technical assistance funds shall be used to fund administrative costs of Public Law 93-638 contracts unrelated to the NAA TAP.

  • No technical assistance funds shall be used to purchase equipment as the sole purpose of the project.

  • No technical assistance funds shall be used to directly support litigation of any kind.

  • No technical assistance funds shall be used for activities that will have the effect of obligating Reclamation to perpetual funding requirements.  (In the past, this has meant that funding shall not be used to install gaging stations unless it appears that other sources of funding are available to fund future operations and maintenance of the station.)

  • No technical assistance funds shall be used to perform biological activities (e.g., fisheries work, including collection, analysis, and evaluation of biological data).  Funding related to the water supply (i.e., quantity and quality) of a fishery study is acceptable.

Last Updated: 9/10/23