Indian Trust Fund Testimony Qs&As

AIMD-96-125R: Published: Jun 24, 1996. Publicly Released: Jun 24, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Bureau of Indian Affairs' (BIA) management of Indian trust funds and implementation of the Indian Trust Fund Management Act of 1994. GAO noted that: (1) trust fund reports to tribes contained limited information because some reconciliation procedures were not performed as originally envisioned and explanations of certain features were inadequate; (2) an arbitration-mediation process could resolve reconciliation disputes; (3) Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts should not undergo the reconciliation process, but an arbitration-mediation process similar to that for tribal accounts could resolve disputes over account balances; (4) the most significant limitations in the reconciliation process included the failure to perform certain reconciliation procedures and using the general ledger as the starting point for basic transaction reconciliations; (5) there was no assurance that all transactions had been recorded in the general ledger; (6) these limitations could affect the reliability of account information; (7) at meetings with tribes, BIA and its contractor explained some scope limitations, but only in response to participants' questions; (8) BIA limited the scope of the outside certification effort and, therefore, it would not obtain assurance of the accuracy and reliability of the reconciled balances; (9) records and audit trails do not exist to support a full audit and reconciliation of IIM accounts; and (10) IIM account holders could use their own records to assert their claims, since the catalogue of existing BIA IIM account records is not complete.

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