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Review of Background Verification Process at Tribally Operated Health Facilities

The Indian Health Service's (IHS's) mission is to partner with American Indians and Alaska Natives to elevate their physical, mental, social, and spiritual health to the highest level. The goal of IHS is to ensure that comprehensive, culturally acceptable personal and public health services are available and accessible to all of the approximately 2.6 million members of the 573 federally recognized Tribes. In 1975, Congress recognized the importance of Tribal decision making in Tribal affairs and the nation-to-nation relationship between the United States and Tribes through the passage of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) (P.L. No. 93-638). Under ISDEAA, federally recognized Tribes administer their own healthcare programs and services that IHS would otherwise provide through P.L. No. 93-638 funding agreements with IHS. In 2019, a pediatrician who worked at several IHS health facilities during a 21-year period was convicted of sexually abusing children served at these facilities. Congressional officials have expressed concerns about safeguards for Indian children and specifically about IHS failing to address this pediatrician's history of offenses at the various IHS health facilities where he was employed. The Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act (P. L. No. 101-630), requires background checks, including Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprinting, for employees whose job duties involve contact with children. Prior OIG audit work identified two Tribal health facilities that did not meet Federal requirements for background verifications for employees in contact with children. We will determine whether the tribally operated health facilities met Federal and Tribal requirements for background verification of employees, contractors, and volunteers in contact with children served by the facilities.

Announced or Revised Agency Title Component Report Number(s) Expected Issue Date (FY)
Completed (partial) Indian Health Service Review of Background Verification Process at Tribally Operated Health Facilities Office of Audit Services A-01-20-01500;