Accountability and performance have been a cornerstone of the Bush administration's
budget proposals but the standards aren't always applied equally when it
comes to Indian programs.
When he took over the White House in January 2001, President Bush created
the Program Assessment Rating Tool (http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/part
) to review dozens of federal programs.
The goal was to determine whether taxpayer funds were being managed
and spent wisely.
Indian Country saw the results of the effort last month when the
fiscal year 2006 budget was released and programs that scored poorly on
the PART test lost millions of dollars in funds. Bureau of Indian
Affairs school construction, Indian housing and Alaska Native environmental
programs were among those that saw cuts totaling more than $200 million
as a result of lackluster performance.
Yet two other programs that didn't do any better on the test somehow managed
to escape the chopping block. Funding for Indian land consolidation
increased to $35 million, up from $22 million two years ago,
and BIA law enforcement saw a major boost of $192 million,
up from $172 million two years ago, despite mediocre and failing PART scores.
Few would dispute that these two programs deserve the money. The Senate Indian
Affairs Committee in fact is calling on $95 million for land consolidation in
order to reduce fractionation and management hassles.
High rates of violent crime on reservations also point to the need for
increased law enforcement services.
But the apparent disconnect highlights some of the problems that tribes
have voiced about the use of the ratings tool on Indian programs mandated by
trust and treaty obligations.
They note that PART isn't applied consistently --
despite the law enforcement boost, tribal courts and funds
for new detention facilities were cut -- and that the White House
can ignore the ratings for programs that
meet an administration priority regardless of how they perform.
Tribes want to be "responsible" and "accountable" for the funds they use,
said Jackie Johnson, executive director of the National Congress of American
Indians. "This is extremely important to us," she said at NCAI's recent
winter session in Washington, D.C.
But Johnson said tribes need to take a more active role to make sure
their voices are heard at the White House.
"I'm not so sure I have the confidence in the [BIA] to report on
my behalf," she said of the administration's reliance on federal agencies to
provide information about a program's effectiveness.
"We need to be very engaged."
the White House Office of Management and Budget released an update
of the PART ratings for number of Indian programs at the Department of Interior,
the Department of Education, the Department
of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Labor and the Environmental
Agency. In total, scores for 17 programs were provided.
A review shows that most programs deemed "Ineffective" or branded with the
"Results Not Demonstrated" label saw their funding cut or flatlined.
The only exception was BIA law enforcement, which was increased.
Programs deemed "Adequate" or "Moderately Effective" either saw
their funding stay the same or increased nominally.
The only exception was Indian land consolidation, which has increased
over the past two years and Tribal General Assistance at
the EPA, which was cut despite the "Adequate" rating.
None of the Indian programs received an "Effective" rating,
the best rating under the PART system.
A full listing of the programs, their ratings and their funding
levels follows. The "2004 Actual" column represents the amount,
in millions, that was actually spent on the program. The "2005 Enacted" lists
the amount, in millions, Congress provided for the program which in most cases
was higher than the White House's 2005 request. The final column
shows the 2006 request, in millions.
Source: White House Office of Management and Budget,
Program Assessment Rating Tool for FY 2006
| Program || Rating || 2004 Actual
|| 2005 Enacted || 2006 Request|
|American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services
||Adequate || 31 || 32 || 33 |
|Tribally Controlled Postsecondary Vocational and Technical Institutions
|| Results Not Demonstrated || 7 || 7 || 7 |
|Urban Indian Health Program
|| Adequate || 32 || 32 || 33
| Indian Community Development Block Grant Program || Adequate || 72 || 68 || 58
|Native American Housing Block Grants
|| Results Not Demonstrated || 650 || 622 || 522
| Indian 477 - Job Placement and Training
|| Moderately Effective || 8 || 9 || 9
| Indian Forestry Program
|| Adequate || 49 || 53 || 53
| Indian Law Enforcement
|| Results Not Demonstrated || 172 || 180 || 192
| Indian Post Secondary Education - Tribal Colleges
|| Adequate || 94 || 97 || 88
| Indian Roads - Operation and Maintenance
|| Results Not Demonstrated || 27 || 27 || 27
| Indian School Construction
|| Results Not Demonstrated || 295 || 263 || 174
| Indian School Operations
|| Adequate || 522 || 518 || 522
| Tribal Courts
|| Results Not Demonstrated || 18 || 18 || 18
|Tribal Land Consolidation
|| Moderately Effective || 22 || 35 || 35
| Native American Programs - Workforce Investment Act
|| Adequate || 57 || 56 || 56
| Alaska Native Villages
|| Ineffective || 43 || 45 || 15
| Tribal General Assistance
|| Adequate || 62 || 63 || 58
Senate Indian Affairs Committee Letter:FY 2006 Views and
(February 28, 2005)
Budget Documents:DOI Budget
| Bureau of
Offices [includes Office of Special Trustee]
[from White House]