FROM THE ARCHIVE
Interior can't find proof of trust fund corruption
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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2001

Despite the testimony of a senior department official and the unchallenged report of a court watchdog, attorneys for Secretary of Interior Gale Norton on Thursday said they have been unable to find proof of a serious software bug in a $40 million trust accounting system.

Challenged to track down the issue by a federal judge, Scott Harris of the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, D.C., said he was unable to confirm the existence of the glitch. But if it does, he acknowledged it was not reported to U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in a court-mandated status update.

"We're going to continue to look into it," said Harris. "Several people are doing so right now."

During testimony in a contempt trial against Norton, Lamberth became alarmed when he heard about the problem. Tommy Thompson, the second highest-ranking trust official at the Interior, testified that a software test that took place in Billings, Montana, in May and June of this year "contaminated" existing trust fund data.

Thompson said his knowledge of the data corruption came from Bob McKenna, an employee of the Office of the Special Trustee who attended the test. He also said Sharon Blackwell, Deputy Commissioner of Indian Affairs, confirmed the failure of the test.

The software bug was first reported by Indianz.Com in July. It was also disclosed by court monitor Joseph S. Kieffer in early August.

Thompson testified that he wasn't aware if the problem has been fixed, six months after it surfaced when two portions of the Trust Asset and Accounting Management System (TAAMS) underwent an integration test. Title history, which describes the ownership of a parcel of trust land, became corrupted when a new part of TAAMS was introduced.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Contempt trial breaking for Christmas (12/21)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com

Related Stories:
TAAMS: The Titanic Failure (12/20)
TAAMS failure traced to promoted manager (12/20)
Judge questions role in trust fund 'circus' (12/20)
Norton ordered to submit trust fund report (12/18)
Judge rebuffs Norton challenge (12/17)
Week two of trial continues today (12/17)
History of neglect drives trust case (12/17)
Judge eager for Norton testimony (12/13)
Editorial: Bad faith, wasted dollars (12/13)
Confusion, conflict detailed at Interior (12/12)
Exclusive: Trust reform assessment (12/12)
Lamberth pokes fun at government (12/12)
EDS trust reform report online (12/12)
Coverage of Contempt Trial, Day 2 (12/12)
Contempt trial continues (12/11)
Contested reports focus of contempt trial (12/11)
The Trial: Witnesses to Contempt (12/11)
Coverage of Contempt Trial, Day 1 (12/11)
Norton contempt trial opens (12/10)
Norton attacks court monitor (12/10)
Norton set for contempt trial (12/10)

More on TAAMS:
Court report criticizes trust fund software (8/10)
Court monitor sets sights on software system (8/1)
Retaliation charged as BIA official jumps ship (7/25)
Latest trust fund system a 'failure' (7/11)
Interior holding back security reports (6/29)
Action threatened against Interior (6/25)
Memo: Trust reform project needs extra attention (4/11)
BIA official: Organization was in 'disarray' (4/5)
Interior: Trust reform is working (3/22)
'Emergency' trust fund meeting requested (3/21)
BIA Memo: Trust reform out of control (3/16)

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