Open Recommendations (2 total)

Indian Programs: Interior Should Address Factors Hindering Tribal Administration of Federal Programs

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2 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Bureau of Indian Affairs The Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs should develop a process that results in consistent determinations for inherently federal functions and to provide documentation to tribes on specific activities and functions determined to be inherently federal. (Recommendation 2)
Open

Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.

In December 2019, the Secretary of Interior issued a Secretarial Order asking the Office of the Solicitor to develop a list of contractible functions and activities for Indian oil and gas activities--and a list of "inherently federal functions" that are not available. In February 2020, the Office of Solicitor completed its review of the functions and developed a list of inherently federal functions and a list of federal functions and activities for Indian oil and gas activities that are contractible. In April 2021, Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Affairs officials said they would study developing a process that would result in consistent determinations for inherently federal functions for other federal functions and activities. In August, 2021, Indian Affairs officials said that they do not have a list of inherently federal functions beyond the oil and gas activities, nor an oversight process that reviews awarding officials' determinations for inherently federal functions for consistency across BIA. Indian Affairs officials said that awarding officials' determinations on inherently federal functions should be consistent due to their training and said that they would provide a copy of this training to us. We will continue to monitor Interior's implementation of this recommendation.
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs should develop a process so that all regional and agency offices consistently provide tribes with documentation on calculations and methodologies to identify resources available to administer a program using a self-determination contract. (Recommendation 1)
Open

Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.

In 2020 Indian Affairs updated its policy manual, the Indian Affairs Manual, to include a description of its resource distribution process. The update includes attachments (templates) for each Indian Affairs program that distributes funds to tribes. The attachments include high-level information on the criteria for how each program distributes the funds, including applicable formula factors and methodologies for calculating the amount to tribes. However, the high-level description generally does not provide the information necessary for tribes to calculate specific amounts that they would receive under a particular program. With regard to the specific amounts available to a tribe requesting to administer a certain program for the first time, Indian Affairs officials issued a May 2021 memorandum reminding regional and agency offices of their responsibility to provide consistent documentation on the program's calculations and methodologies for distributing funding to tribes. However, the May 2021 memorandum doesn't specify that regional and agency officials should provide this information to the tribe prior to negotiations, nor does it establish a process to ensure that the information provided is consistent. In August 2021, Indian Affairs officials said that Interior could update its Indian Affairs Manual to establish a process that regional and agency officials should provide consistent information on resources available to tribes to administer a program prior to the negotiation meeting. We will continue to monitor Interior's progress on this recommendation.