Special Trustee: Norton report still 'inadequate'
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Despite special attention by Secretary of Interior Gale Norton, the department's top trust official still believes the latest status update on trust reform is "inadequate."

In his observations to the 8th quarterly report, which was submitted to U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Wednesday, Special Trustee Tom Slonaker noted that there have been improvements made in the way the document has been prepared and the type of information it presents. "Overall progress on trust reform cannot be assured or confirmed, however, because of the apparent inadequate planning and execution to date of some subprojects and other important remedies for Indian trust," he countered.

Of particular concern to Slonaker is the lack of planning that has gone into trust reform projects. There are 11 total, plus four court-identified breach projects, whose tasks have been defined and whose status has been measured by the High Level Implementation Plan (HLIP).

But now that Norton has scrapped the HLIP, Slonaker says its effects remain. "Reporting for the subprojects herewith may not include reporting on steps that should have been planned, the absence of which may present problems to the completion of the subproject," he writes.

"It is in that sense, at least, that parts of this report remain inadequate, in the Special Trustee’s judgment."

Slonaker was appointed to his position by President Clinton and sworn in to his post in July 2000. His office soon took responsibility for the court-mandated quarterly reports, but he had began to raise doubts about the entire reform project.

The questions boiled into a dispute between Slonaker's office and Norton and her top aides last fall. Slonaker, and four project managers, refused to certify the 7th report, which was finally turned after an unapproved one-month delay.

Norton then proceeded to try and delay the 8th report but was stopped by Lamberth, who ordered her to assume responsibility for it personally.

Get the Report:
Status Report to the Court Number Eight (1/16)

Today on Indianz.Com:
Norton scraps trust reform blueprint (1/18)
Under watch of Swimmer, TAAMS halted (1/18)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Trust Reform, NCAI -

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