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Report: BIA wasted nearly $1M on law enforcement recruiting

The Bureau of Indian Affairs wasted nearly $1 million on a contract for law enforcement recruiting, the the Inspector General at the Interior Department said in a new report.

In June 2009, just a couple of weeks after former Assistant Secretary Larry Echo Hawk came on board, the BIA awarded the contract to National Native American Law Enforcement Association even though another company offered a lower bid. The decision violated federal guidelines because NNALEA's board at the time included five federal government employees, according to the report.

"By appointing NNALEA dues paying members to participate on the technical panel that evaluated and selected NNALEA as the contractor, BIA created an appearance of a conflict of interest," the report said.

In the contract, NNALEA promised to deliver 500 “qualified candidates” for law enforcement jobs in Indian Country. However, all of the 748 applications that were submitted to the BIA were "of no use," the report said.

"BIA determined the applications to be unacceptable and did not use any of the applications, both because of the content and the format did not meet the current applicant recruitment system requirements," the OIG said.

Among other issues, NNALEA submitted applications from candidates who lacked U.S. citizenship, who did not meet age requirements for federal officers and who had criminal records. The OIG report attributed the failure to the contract itself -- which was revised in a way that didn't require NNALEA to ensure the people who were recruited met certain requirements.

"When NNALEA’s CEO proposed significant modifications to the statement of work, BIA officials simply accepted them in part because they said that they were under pressure to get the contract out," the report stated.

After being warned of the problems with NNALEA in February 2010, Echo Hawk terminated the contract. The BIA, however, ended up paying $600,000 in "settlement" costs without a proper review, the report said.

Echo Hawk, a former state attorney general with a long career in law enforcement, retired last month. He served in the Obama administration for almost three years.

Get the Report:
Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Law Enforcement Recruitment Services Contract with the National Native American Law Enforcement Association (May 9, 2012)

Prior Report:
Bureau of Indian Affairs' Contract With the National Native American Law Enforcement Association Contract No. CBK00090002 (February 2, 2010)

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