SANTA FE, N.M. – Gov. Bill Richardson announced Oct. 15 a historic agreement between the state Indian Affairs Department and the Navajo Nation that will reduce bureaucratic red tape and clear the way for 53 2008 capital outlay projects, valued at $3.9 million, to move forward more efficiently.
“This historic agreement is a victory for Navajos who will benefit from these much-needed improvements to water systems, power lines and other important infrastructure,” he said.
The agreement is designed to streamline the Navajo Nation’s approval process for capital outlay projects passed by the New Mexico Legislature and funded by the Indian Affairs Department. The 53 projects have now been approved as a package, rather than individually, which should reduce the timeline for completing them.
In the past, the nation’s administrative approval process required as many as 43 steps. Now the package can be approved in six steps, saving the nation and the state hundreds of thousands of dollars in administrative and staff costs.
New Mexico Indian Affairs Secretary Alvin Warren worked with the Navajo Nation to craft the agreement, known as the Master Intergovernmental Agreement. The nation’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee unanimously approved legislation formalizing the agreement Sept. 23. Warren signed the agreement Oct. 2.
“It is important to acknowledge that this achievement came about through dedicated government-to-government collaboration,” Warren said. “With the signing of the agreement, we have broken ground in a new era of efficiency in facilitating the funding and completion of vital capital outlay projects that benefit New Mexico’s Navajo citizens, and often lay the foundation for improved infrastructure and increased opportunity for economic development.”
Richardson thanked Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., Vice President Ben Shelly, Navajo Nation Council Speaker Lawrence Morgan, the members of the Navajo Nation Council’s Transportation and Community Development Committee, and the Intergovernmental Relations Committee for working together to reach the agreement.
Richardson said he hopes the agreement can serve as a blueprint for similar agreements between the Navajo Nation and other state agencies, like the Department of Transportation and the Aging and Long-Term Services Department, which oversee capital outlay money passed by the Legislature.