Office of Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse
OIASA is charged with, among other things, aligning, leveraging, and coordinating federal agencies and departments in carrying out SAMHSA’s responsibilities delineated in the TLOA. This effort is overseen through the Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse (IASA) Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee, which is comprised of more than 60 members representing a range of federal agencies and departments. According to the TLOA, OIASA is to be staffed by a director and a youth programs officer.
The office supports a holistic framework reinforcing the beliefs that the mind, body, and spirit are all connected to health and that tribes know best how to solve their own problems through prevention activities and community partnerships.
History and Purpose of the TLOA
President Barack Obama signed the TLOA into law by on July 29, 2010. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 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.
The purpose of the TLOA is to ensure that justice, safety, education, youth, and alcohol and substance misuse prevention and treatment issues relevant to Indian Country remain the subject of consistent focus for the federal government. The TLOA meets this goal by institutionalizing federal reforms to focus on these key issues not only in the current administration, but also in future administrations. The law requires a significant amount of interagency coordination and collaboration between the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of the Interior (DOI), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The TLOA, which reauthorized and amended the Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, focuses on prosecution as well as prevention.
The TLOA Obligations on SAMHSA
Through the TLOA, Congress sought to engage new federal partners to build upon previous efforts in addressing alcohol and substance use disorders in Indian Country. As required by the law, the Secretary of HHS, the Secretary of the Interior, and the United States Attorney General developed and entered into a memorandum of agreement (PDF | 810 KB), among other things:
- Determine the scope of the alcohol and substance misuse problems faced by American Indians and Alaska Natives
- Identify the resources and programs of each agency that would be relevant to a coordinated effort to combat alcohol and substance misuse in tribal communities
- Coordinate existing agency programs with those established under the TLOA
- SAMHSA is directed to take the lead role in interagency coordination and collaboration on tribal substance abuse programs.
Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse (IASA) Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee
On July 21, 2011, the Secretaries of HHS and DOI and the Attorney General entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to carry out the provisions of the TLOA with regard to Chapter 26 of the Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act – 2011 (PDF | 2 MB). The memorandum of agreement commits HHS, DOI, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to aligning, leveraging, and coordinating federal efforts and resources to “assist American Indian and Alaska Native communities in achieving their goals in prevention, intervention, and treatment of alcohol and substance abuse.”
The MOA established the IASA Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee, which includes representatives from HHS, DOI, DOJ, and other federal agencies. The coordinating committee is the mechanism by which the agencies meet the MOA's terms. The coordinating committee uses the MOA for policy direction, goal setting, and authority.
The coordinating committee conducts its work according to a charter – 2013 (PDF | 627 KB) and carries out its activities through a collaborative group of standing workgroups. Each workgroup represents the full membership of the MOA partners.