FROM THE ARCHIVE

DOI releases long-awaited trust fund probe

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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 7, 2002

The Department of Interior this week made public an internal report which concludes its handling of Indian trust fund has been a "not so humorous comedy of errors."

Inspector General Earl E. Devaney's long awaited report focuses on three incidents. One concerned the erasing of e-mails related to the Cobell litigation, another was the failure of a $40 million computer accounting and the final was an historical accounting project that never got off the ground despite a court order directing one.

The report makes a number of damaging findings about the department's inept Indian trust operation and admits the e-mails were destroyed against court orders. But the investigation fails to find any misconduct on behalf of past and present employees who were interviewed.

Some refused to cooperate, however, leaving open the question of blame. As many as three former members of the Clinton administration did not want to be interviewed, according to the report.

As a result, Devaney was unable to conclude why U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth wasn't told about the failures of the Trust Asset and Accounting Management System (TAAMS) prior to his landmark December 1999 ruling. He relied on the project to conclude that the Interior should be given one last chance to reform the broken system rather than hand the reins to a receiver.

The report notes that former Secretary Bruce Babbitt gave misleading testimony to Congress because the true status of the system was never revealed.

The report was completed in late June per a request by Solicitor Bill Myers last fall. Persons named were allowed to object to its findings while the document was kept from the court and attorneys for 500,000 Indian beneficiaries.

Get the Story:
Indian Funds Reform Faulted (The Washington Post 8/7)
Agency's probe clears Norton in trust case (The Denver Post 8/7)
Report Blasts Interior Department (AP 8/6)

Today on Indianz.Com:
Report documents trust fund failures (8/7)
Indian Trust: Conflicts of Interest (8/7)

Get the Report:
Executive Summary (June 2002) | Part 1: Historical Accounting (June 2002) | Part 2: TAAMS (June 2002) | Part 3: E-Mail Destruction (June 2002)

Relevant Documents:
Devaney to Myers: Status of Investigation (10/12) | Myers to Devaney: Request for Investigation (8/17)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Trust Reform, NCAI - http://www.ncai.org/main/pages/
issues/other_issues/trust_reform.asp

Related Stories:
No one to punish for destroyed e-mails (4/10)
Request for trust fund probe rejected (11/7)
Internal trust fund investigation sought (8/22)