Tribal Consultation: Additional Federal Actions Needed For Infrastructure Projects

April 19, 2019

Based on interviews with officials from 57 tribes and 21 federal agencies, as well as comments submitted by 100 tribes in 2016 on tribal consultation for infrastructure projects, GAO identified key factors that tribes and agencies believe hinder effective consultation on infrastructure projects.

Federal agencies are required, at times, to consult with tribes on infrastructure projects like pipelines that may harm tribal natural and cultural resources.

According to tribal and agency officials, there are several factors making these consultations less effective. For example:

  • Some tribal representatives held the view that agencies did not consider their input and that consultations started too late.
  • Agencies reported difficulty obtaining the contact information needed to start consulting and other challenges.

GAO recommendations included developing a government-wide system to identify and notify tribes of consultations.