More Effective Controls Over Bureau of Indian Affairs Administrative Costs Are Needed

FGMSD-78-17: Published: Feb 15, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 15, 1978.

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The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was asked by congressional committees to reduce costs of administering Indian programs for fiscal years 1977 and 1978 by about $8.5 million because evidence suggested that costs were excessive.

BIA reduced costs by about $900,000 and then, rather than reduce the remaining administrative costs as directed, it reduced funds for Indian programs. It also avoided reductions in administrative costs by such actions as: netting the reduction against other program costs and allocating them to the many BIA offices without identifying the amount of reduction; reducing funds for computer operations and recovering funds by receiving reimbursement from Indian programs for services; and failing to reduce personnel, claiming that reductions would have prevented it from providing essential services. BIA arguments for maintaining its administrative costs level are inconsistent with audit report disclosures that shortcomings in personnel organizations' operating budgets to management and other adverse conditions have resulted in unnecessarily high costs. Weaknesses in the BIA financial management system prevented it from controlling costs effectively and contributed to its high administrative costs.

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