Financial Management:

BIA's Management of the Indian Trust Funds

T-AIMD-93-4: Published: Sep 27, 1993. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1993.

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GAO discussed the Bureau of Indian Affairs' (BIA) management of the Indian Trust Funds, focusing on: (1) BIA efforts to correct past problems; (2) operational problems that still need to be addressed; and (3) provisions in Native American trust fund legislation that can assist BIA in resolve trust fund management problems. GAO noted that: (1) BIA has experienced problems in upholding its fiduciary responsibility of ensuring that proper controls and accountability are maintained over each trust fund account; (2) previous BIA trust fund audits and internal studies have shown many account control and oversight problems; (3) BIA has made progress in implementing short-term and long-term trust fund management improvements and reconciling trust fund accounts; (4) the problems affecting BIA trust fund management include the lack of a long-term strategic plan, adequate staff, a time table for resolving all tribal reconciliations, and written procedures to assist in trust fund accounting; (5) proposed Native American trust fund legislation mandates the development of adequate accounting systems and internal controls, providing account holders with timely statements, allowing tribes to manage their own funds, and the establishment of programs to assist Native Americans in obtaining trust fund management expertise; and (6) BIA needs adequate financial systems and accounting staff and the support of senior department managers to resolve its trust fund management problems.

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