Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Photo: SCIA
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Senate Committee on Indian Affairs holds hearing on 'high risk' tribal programs

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is getting back to work by taking another look at "high risk" programs that serve tribes and their citizens.

In January, the Government Accountability Office placed Indian education, Indian health care and Indian energy development on its list of programs in need of serious reforms. According to the watchdog agency, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service have failed to implement recommendations that would help the federal government carry out its trust responsibilities.

“These important programs impact the safety of school buildings and facilities, the quality of health care and education, and the advancement of energy development in Indian Country,” Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), the chairman of the committee, said at a hearing in May. “Agencies should be ensuring Indian tribes and their members are thriving and prospering, not missing opportunities.”

Since that hearing, little has overtly changed at the BIA and the IHS. Although the issues identified by the GAO originated long before President Donald Trump showed up in Washington, he's failed to name permanent leaders for both agencies, something his two predecessors had done by this time in their first terms.

Still, Hoeven wants to know whether the BIA and the IHS are making any progress at the September 13 hearing. A witness list hasn't been posted online.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice:
Oversight Hearing on “High Risk Indian Programs: Progress and Efforts in Addressing GAO's Recommendations” (September 13, 2017)

Government Accountability Office Report:
Improving Federal Management of Programs that Serve Tribes and Their Members (February 15, 2017)

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Indian Health Service budget and 'high risk' tribal programs on agenda for upcoming hearings (May 17, 2017)
Hearing on high-risk tribal programs highlights void in Trump leadership team (May 15, 2017)