Navajo Community College Funding Problems

CED-80-79: Published: Mar 21, 1980. Publicly Released: Mar 21, 1980.

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Funding for the Navajo Community College was reviewed to determine if the Bureau of Indian Affairs' (BIA) regulations and methods of computing full-time equivalent students were consistent with the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act. To stabilize funding at an adequate level, Congress passed the Act because the previous BIA method of funding community colleges controlled by Indian tribes did not ensure sufficient funding for operation and maintenance. The grant formula established under the Act is based on the number of "full-time equivalent" Indian students enrolled for an academic year multiplied by $4,000. However, for the Navajo Community College, using the grant formula to compute funding for fiscal year 1980 would have provided $2.5 million, rather than the $6.4 million BIA obligated to the school under its regular budget process.

It was found that although the grant formula required by the Act was effective for fiscal year 1980, BIA did not use it in developing its fiscal year 1980 budget request because its request had been forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget before the Act was passed. BIA did not compute its estimate of the number of full-time equivalent students for the Navajo Community College for the fiscal year 1980 appropriation hearings in accordance with the Act. Instead, it used a college supplied figure which was not averaged to arrive at a figure for the academic year. As a result of the BIA overstatement, the amount obligated to the college was $3.9 million more than the Act's grant formula allowed. The BIA regulations appear consistent with the Act except for a provision that appears to allow the Navajo Community College to receive Federal funding for operation, maintenance, and construction under any other Federal law. The Federal funding for operation, maintenance, and construction activities is authorized only under the Navajo Community College Act of 1971, as amended by the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act of 1978. In its fiscal year 1981 budget submission estimate, BIA stated that the full-time equivalent enrollment was 624. GAO estimated that the enrollment is 723.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should require the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to: review, with the assistance of the Inspector General, the Navajo Community College's management practices and operating expenses to determine the most equitable method for funding the college. This should be reported to the appropriate congressional committees for their consideration in making necessary appropriation and legislative changes. The Secretary should also require the Assistant Secretary to revise the regulations so that they do not appear to allow Federal funding of the Navajo Community College for operations, maintenance, and construction activities under the Snyder Act of 1921 or any law other than the Navajo Community College Act of 1971 as amended.

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