Indian Affairs

2017


 

GAO: High Risk: Status of Prior Recommendations on Federal Management of Programs Serving Indian Tribes

September 2017

As discussed in the 2017 High Risk report, GAO has identified numerous weaknesses in how the Department of the Interior (Interior) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) manage programs serving Indian tribes. Specifically, these weaknesses were related to Interior's Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)—under the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs (Indian Affairs)—in overseeing education services and managing Indian energy resources, and HHS's Indian Health Service (IHS) in administering health care services. GAO cited nearly 40 recommendations in its 2017 High Risk report that were not implemented, and has since made an additional 12 recommendations in two new reports on BIE school safety and construction published in late May of this year. Interior and HHS have taken some steps to address these recommendations but only one has been fully implemented. Report


 

GAO: Actions Needed to Better Manage Indian School Construction Projects

May 2017

The Department of the Interior's (Interior) Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs (Indian Affairs) does not have a comprehensive capital asset plan to guide the allocation of funding for school construction projects across its 185 Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools. Indian Affairs is in the process of replacing 3 schools and plans to replace 10 additional schools from a list of 54 schools that applied in 2015. However, Indian Affairs has not developed a comprehensive, long-term capital asset plan for the repair or replacement of the remaining schools in its portfolio, as required by Interior policy. Until Indian Affairs develops a capital asset plan, it risks using federal funds inefficiently and not prioritizing funds to schools with the most pressing needs.

For 49 construction projects completed from 2003 through 2016, the inconsistent use of accountability measures and inadequate oversight led to projects that took longer than expected, were sometimes over budget, or had to be scaled back to remain within their allotted budgets. For example, of the 49 projects:

  • 16 were 3 or more years behind schedule (see fig. 1).
  • 1 was almost 10 years behind schedule.
  • 10 were 20 percent or more over budget.

Report


 

GAO: High Risk: Actions Needed to Address Serious Weaknesses in Federal Management of Programs Serving Indian Tribes

May 2017

As discussed in GAO's 2017 High Risk report, GAO has identified numerous weaknesses in how the Department of the Interior (Interior) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) manage programs serving Indian tribes. Specifically, these weaknesses were related to Interior's Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in overseeing education services and managing Indian energy resources, and HHS' Indian Health Service (IHS) in administering health care services. Report


 

GAO: High Risk: Actions Needed to Address Serious Weaknesses in Federal Management of Programs Serving Indian Tribes

May 2017

The Department of the Interior and the Department of Health and Human Services offer education, energy resource management, health care, and other programs for Indian tribes and their members.

GAO testified on both Departments' weaknesses in managing these programs. These weaknesses have contributed to unsafe conditions at Bureau of Indian Education schools, limited or missed opportunities for tribes to use energy resources for their economic benefit, and inadequate oversight of federal health care facilities that serve tribes. Report


 

 

DOI OIG: High Risk:Federal Management Challenges Related to Indian Energy Resources

February 2017

Indian tribes and their members hold considerable energy resources and may decide to use these resources to provide economic benefits and improve the well-being of their communities. However, according to a 2014 Interior document, these resources are underdeveloped relative to surrounding non-Indian resources.

In three prior reports on Indian energy development, GAO found that the Department of the Interior's (Interior) Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has inefficiently managed Indian energy resources and the development process and thereby limited opportunities for tribes and their members to use those resources to create economic benefits and improve the well-being of their communities. GAO has also reported numerous challenges facing Interior's Bureau of Indian Education and BIA and the Department of Health and Human Services' Indian Health Services in administering education and health care services, which put the health and safety of American Indians served by these programs at risk. Report


 

2013


 

DOI OIG: Management of Social Services in BIA: Opportunity for Action 

March 2013

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) funds tribal social services programs in the form of direct services or through contracts or other agreements that allow tribes to administer social services to members. Program funding for direct services and contracts is approximately $137 million annually. More than half ($75 million) goes toward welfare assistance; the remaining funds are applied to staffing and support.

To help improve BIA operations, including social services, BIA contracted for independent studies in 1999 and again in 2012. The two reports that resulted from these contracts revealed a history of inadequate communication throughout BIA. These communication issues, as identified by the reports, pertained to inconsistent or obsolete guidance, unclear roles and responsibilities, and inadequate performance standards in BIA. The Office of Inspector General found much the same when we evaluated BIA’s social services program—unclear guidance, performance standards, and roles and responsibilities, which undermined fulfillment of duties throughout the Bureau. Report