The Bureau of Indian Affairs Needs To Determine How Well Its Indian Training Program Is Working and Assist Tribes in Their Training Efforts

CED-78-46: Published: Feb 13, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 13, 1978.

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The Bureau of Indian Affairs' (BIA) Indian Action Team program was designed to train Indian people living on reservations for employment and provided a new approach, calling for Indian self-determination, as an alternative to the past policy of terminating services to Indian tribes as promptly as possible. Through the Indian Technical Assistance Center, BIA awarded contracts to tribal groups to provide marketable training skills to Indian people. Total funding for the program through fiscal year 1978 has been $85.5 million.

BIA does not have a system for determining the effectiveness of the program and does not require appropriate recordkeeping from the Indian contractors. Overall trainee employment success rates could not be identified because of inadequate records, and varying rates were identified by program directors. Some of the directors stated that BIA had provided little technical assistance and some that they had difficulty obtaining qualified instructors because of the low wage scale. The program has produced benefits other than training, such as capital improvements to facilities from on-the-job training projects and the pride experienced by Indian people from learning a trade. Although the program has operated for 5 years, the Center does not have sufficient staff to evaluate the program or provide proper technical assistance. BIA has awarded contracts to the same contractors each year and has been unable to fund new proposals because of the lack of a system for evaluating program effectiveness or identifying contracts which should not be renegotiated.

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