indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Congress not ready to embrace Bush accounting plans
WEDNESDAY, JULY 16, 2003

Although a controversial provision to settle the Indian trust fund lawsuit has been axed from the Department of Interior's budget bill, there are still problems ahead for a proposed historical accounting.

For fiscal year 2004, the Bush administration requested $130 million for various accounting activities. Of the amount, $100 million was to be used to analyze Individual Indian Money (IIM) funds while the rest was dedicated to resolving a select group of tribal trust fund accounts.

But the House and Senate committees responsible for the appropriations have slashed funds for the project. Each has agreed only to provide $75 million to the Office of Historical Trust Accounting, which is overseeing the five-year, $335 million effort.

The move reflects the lawmakers' concern with the spiraling costs of trust reform. Since 1994, more than $700 million has been spent to fix the broken system but little concrete progress has been made. In particular, the government has yet to satisfy its obligation to account for individual- and tribally-owned trust funds.

According to the House Appropriations Committee, whose leaders were responsible for the now-defunct settlement language, the money was essentially wasted. "These funds could have been better used to fund health and education programs in Indian Country or directed towards reforming the outdated trust systems in the department," a report accompanying the panel's version of the bill states.

The Senate Appropriations Committee took on a similar tack, but also endorsed the use of statistical sampling to resolve the accounts, a method that has been overwhelmingly rejected by Indian beneficiaries. "Past accounting efforts have illustrated few mistakes within the individual accounts being audited, and it is the committee's belief the funding level provided will allow the department to utilize a statistical sampling model sufficient to further illustrate the department's performance in managing trust accounts," the report states.

Such language puts the Interior in a "conundrum," Associate Deputy Secretary Jim Cason said last week. At a hearing called to address potential settlement of the seven-year-old Cobell case, he testified that Congress has sent conflicting messages about what to do.

"One of the things that we have to decide . . . is what is fair to do for our Indian beneficiaries, and then can we reach an accommodation with Congress to fund whatever that fairness is," he told the House Resources Committee on July 9.

Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the suit, said the department's plan was a waste of money and that it shouldn't be funded at all. Instead, the plaintiffs have asked a federal judge to adopt their accounting proposal, which is based on a technological model of oil, gas, mining, timber, agriculture and other revenues derived on Indian lands. There is no indication on when a ruling might be handed down.

Debate in the House version of the Interior spending bill, H.R.2691, is set to occur later this week. Funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is $2.3 billion while the amount for the Office of Special Trustee (OST) is $219.6 million. The House Interior Appropriations Committee endorsed the reorganization of BIA and expansion of OST despite the cut to the historical accounting project.

The Senate's the appropriations bill, S.1391, provides $2.32 billion to BIA and $219.6 million for OST.

Get the Bills:
H.R.2691 | H.Rept.108-195 | S.1391 | S.Rept.108-89

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust

Related Stories:
Trust fund provision stripped from House bill (7/15)
Swimmer partly right on trust fund rider (7/14)
Hearsay: House sending message to Lamberth (7/14)
Bill could strip DOI of trust fund management (7/14)
Bush official balks at large settlement for Cobell (7/10)
House takes testimony on trust fund settlement (7/10)
Editorial: Shame on Bush and Congress for rider (7/10)
Judge Lamberth hears closing arguments in Cobell trial (7/9)
Closing arguments set in Cobell trust fund trial (7/8)
Dicks pins anti-Cobell language on Taylor (7/7)
Editorial: Trust fund settlement bill 'disgraceful' (7/7)
Swimmer to appear on Native America Calling (7/7)
Swimmer finally off the stand in Cobell trial (7/3)
Swimmer testimony in Cobell trial wrapping up (7/2)
Swimmer recalls 'fuzzy' Reagan years (7/1)
Lamberth questions Norton's trust limits (7/1)
Pombo targets trust fund settlement program (6/30)
Swimmer testifies on trust fund accounting (6/27)
Swimmer challenged on Bush reform plans (6/27)
Swimmer expected to take stand in Cobell trial (6/25)
Griles gets Cobell wish list from House (6/26)
Taxpayers fund private attorneys to tune of $3M (6/25)
Norton offered settlement funds for IIM trust (6/20)
Swimmer testimony to come at end of Cobell trial (06/05)
Cason to take stand in Indian trust fund trial (6/4)
Indian trust standards debated (6/3)
Suit aims to halt reorganization (6/3)
Norton starts defense in trust fund trial (6/2)
Tribes stress unity on trust reform solutions (6/2)
Cobell welcomes a settlement to trust case (5/29)
Lamberth criticizes interference with trust fund case (05/22)
Tribes oppose OST expansion into Indian County (5/22)
Swimmer: Don't fear changes at Interior (5/22)
On trust, Swimmer turns to private sector (5/14)
Trial in Cobell trust fund case kicks off (05/02)
Bush reform plans debated in trust fund trial (05/02)
Cobell v. Norton Recap: Day 1 of Trial 1.5 (05/02)
Court tackles trust accounting and reform plans (05/01)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Guilty verdict in death of Lower Brule boy (4/17)
Native Sun News: Paper brings home four first place awards (4/17)
Panel to look into death of pregnant Indian woman in Mexico (4/17)
Opinion: Poarch Creeks qualify for Class III gaming in Florida (4/17)
Native Sun News: Little Shell Tribe gets closer to recognition (4/16)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge fighter prepares for next match (4/16)
Letter from Cobell attorneys on second settlement payment (4/16)
Cobell settlement administrator responds to payment delay (4/16)
Secretary Jewell to deliver commencement address at SIPI (4/16)
First member of Pascua Yaqui Tribe signs to play basketball (4/16)
Navajo Code Talker Samuel Smith passes away at age of 88 (4/16)
Dean Chavers: Indian journalism owes big debt to Tim Giago (4/16)
Nicholet Deschine: KTNN accepts 'hush money' for racial slur (4/16)
Jack Duran: Grindstone Rancheria finally gets a seat at table (4/16)
Dry Creek Rancheria to hold disenrollment hearings this week (4/16)
Hate group plans to protest at Alaska Native Heritage Center (4/16)
Colorado House passes bill to expand Indian tuition program (4/16)
Ute Tribe signs five-year agreement with University of Utah (4/16)
Mississippi Choctaws on track to open health facility in 2015 (4/16)
Judges from Turtle Mountain Band threatened with removal (4/16)
City in New York to drop legal battles against Oneida Nation (4/16)
Quinault Nation to reopen lake on reservation to non-Indians (4/16)
Virginia tribes question interpretation of treaty fishing rights (4/16)
Lawsuit claims remains were removed for Jamul Band casino (4/16)
Mescalero Apache Tribe completes refinancing of casino debt (4/16)
Cherokee Nation Council passes gaming regulation measure (4/16)
Mashantucket Tribe working on casino deal in Massachusetts (4/16)
Opinion: Another futile lawsuit against Poarch Creek casinos (4/16)
Native Sun News: Tribes benefit from $5.15B uranium cleanup (4/15)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne Tribe marks return of chief (4/15)
DOI extends $1.2M in offers to Makah Reservation landowners (4/15)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee listening session in Montana (4/15)
Ernie Stevens: NIGA won't support racist depictions of Natives (4/15)
Navajo casino enterprise wasn't told of NFL team involvement (4/15)
Steven Newcomb: Scientists lay claim to Kumeyaay ancestors (4/15)
Opinion: Judge delivered 'remarkable opinion' in Cobell lawsuit (4/15)
Umatilla player Shoni Schimmel drafted by Atlanta WNBA team (4/15)
Fort Sill Apache Tribe wins recognition in New Mexico homeland (4/15)
CNN Series: Best places to experience Native American culture (4/15)
Lummi Nation argues for treaty fishing rights in disputed areas (4/15)
Blackfeet Nation heads into election season amid ongoing feud (4/15)
School district on Fort Peck Reservation to redraw voting areas (4/15)
Ojibwe man from Canada charged for possession of wild animals (4/15)
Navajo Technical University creates bachelor's degree program (4/15)
Opinion: Ignorance abounds in dealings with indigenous people (4/15)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.