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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) personnel practices and policies and selected personnel actions involving 12 employees to determine the propriety of: (1) a waiver of BIA rules requiring Indian preference in reassignments occurring due to reductions-in-force (RIF); (2) personnel details under Indian preference law and under BIA and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) rules; and (3) the noncompetitive appointment of a non-Indian to a Senior Executive Service (SES) position.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Interior 1. The Secretary of the Interior should prohibit the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs from waiving the BIA rule requiring Indian preference in reassignments to advertised positions during RIF unless or until the rule is amended to authorize waivers and describe the standards that will be applied in effecting waivers.
Closed - Implemented
On February 18, 1989, BIA amended its personnel manual to delete the paragraph which permitted reassignments of non-Indians to vacant positions only prior to advertising the positions. BIA took this alternative action instead of amending its manual to authorize waivers and describe standards to be applied.
Department of the Interior 2. The Secretary of the Interior should specify in writing the policy to advertise SES positions before filling them with non-Indians and institute internal control procedures for ensuring adherence to the policy.
Closed - Not Implemented
Interior's response states that advertising policy is already in place; however, the written policy does not require advertising positions before reassignment of SES personnel. The existing written policy gives management the flexibility to fill positions by means other than formal advertising. Interior continues to believe its policy is very clear and has no plans to publish additional guidance.

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