Indian Affairs:

Alaska Native Allotment Eligibility Process Can Be Improved

RCED-88-121: Published: Jul 8, 1988. Publicly Released: Jul 18, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) administration of the Native Allotment Program to determine: (1) whether BLM met certain requirements in its eligibility determinations; and (2) the progress BLM made in completing the program.

GAO found that: (1) the BLM allotment tracking system did not contain current information on the status of allotments on a parcel basis; (2) Alaska Natives applied for about 15,019 parcels of land under the program; (3) 5,236 parcels had legislative approval without regard to the eligibility requirements; (4) BLM approved 4,685 applications that met the requirements, denied or had applicants withdraw 1,424, and had 3,674 reviews pending; (5) BLM approved between 30 and 292 applications, whose files contained information suggesting that the eligibility requirements were not met without substantiating the applicants' claims; (6) BLM experienced delays in implementing the program due to administrative difficulties, low program priority, policy changes, and litigation and appeals; and (7) BLM estimated that it would not complete the program until the end of the century due to resource constraints, the climatic conditions which hamper its surveys, and the demands of its other conveyance responsibilities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: To verify that the new checklist is ensuring, in practice, that only eligible applicants receive allotments, GAO would need to do audit work in Alaska.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should instruct the Director, BLM, to strengthen Native allotment review and approval practices to ensure that existing procedures are followed so that applications are approved only after BLM has obtained sufficient information to confirm that applicants have met the eligibility requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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