Financial Management:

Interior's Management of the Indian Trust Funds

T-AIMD-96-111: Published: Jun 18, 1996. Publicly Released: Jun 18, 1996.

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GAO discussed the Department of the Interior's management of Indian trust funds. GAO noted that: (1) the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has completed its reconciliation of trust fund accounts, but the accounts could not be fully reconciled due to missing records and the lack of an audit trail; (2) the January 1996 BIA report to the tribes did not explain limitations in scope and methodologies used for the reconciliation process; (3) two tribes have accepted their reconciliation results, three tribes are disputing their results, and the remaining 275 tribes have not yet decided whether to accept or dispute their reconciliation results; (4) if Interior cannot resolve the tribes' concerns, the disputes can be resolved through a legislated settlement process; (5) Interior's trust fund management improvements will take several years to complete; (6) although BIA is replacing its inadequate management and accounting systems, it has not developed systems requirements to ensure that the new systems provide accurate information; (7) Interior has appointed a special trustee for Native Americans who has developed an outline of needed trust fund management improvements, but this outline needs to include various departmentwide options and alternatives and their associated costs and benefits to become a comprehensive strategic plan; and (8) resource constraints have limited Interior's ability to make trust fund management improvements.

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