Indianz.Com > COVID-19 > ‘Where’s the Money?’: Department of the Interior Inspector General
Posted: May 6, 2020

Headquarters of the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C.

The Office of Inspector General at the Department of the Interior on May 5, 2020, released a report titled “Where’s the Money? DOI Use of CARES Act Funds.”

Interior, overall, received $756 million from the CARES Act, the report notes. Of that amount, $453 million has been appropriated for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and $69 million for the Bureau of Indian Education.

As of April 28, the BIA made $156,777,505 (nearly $156.8 million) in expenditures, according to the report. That accounts for 34.6 percent of the agency’s appropriation, indicating the funds have been getting to Indian Country in a speedy manner following the signing of the CARES Act into law on March 27. 

“Expenditures are payments of funds, such as when the DOI receives an invoice or a drawdown submission,” the OIG report states.

At the same time, the BIA has $326,345,602 (nearly $326.35 million) in obligations, the report adds. That accounts for 72 percent of the agency’s appropriation, meaning a large portion has already been spoken for.

“Obligations are legally binding agreements that will result in expenditures,” OIG states.

When the two categories combined, the figures indicate the BIA will need to make $483,123,107 (over $483.1 million) in expenditures. That is $30,123,107 (over $30.1 million) more than was appropriated for the agency under the CARES Act.

The BIE is spending a lot slower, which is not surprising considering all 185 schools in Indian Country are closed. As of April 28, the agency has made $11,843,135 ($11.8 million) in expenditures, accounting for 17.2 percent of the total, according to the report.

The BIE has $19,366,910 (nearly $19.4 million) in obligations, representing 28.1 percent of the total. The agency still has 37,789,955 (more than $37.7 million) in CARES Act funds as of last week.

“This report presents the DOI’s progress as of April 28, 2020,” the OIG states. “We anticipate issuing updated status reports monthly.”

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