oversight

Bureau of Indian Affairs: Information on Potential Budgetary Reductions for Fiscal Year 1998

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-04-25.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

United States
General Accounting Of!fice
Washington,   D.C. 20548

Resources, Community,   and
Economic Development    Division


B-276713


April 25, 1997


The Honorable Slade Gorton
Chairman
The Honorable Robert C. Byrd
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on the Interior and Related Agencies
Committee on Approptiations
United States Senate

The Honorable Ralph Regula
Chairman
The Honorable Sidney R. Yates
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on the Interior and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives

The Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell
Chairman
The Honorable Daniel K. lnouye
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Indian Affairs
United States Senate

Subject: Bureau of Indian Affairsz Information on Potential Budgetarv
         Reductions for F’iscal Year 1998

As agreed, we are providing the information (see enc. I) that we discussed
with your offices on selected activities within the Construction account and
the Operation of Indian Programs account of the Department of the Interior’s
Bureau of Indian Affairs @A). These two accounts represent 72 percent of
B&I’s fiscal year 1997 budget authority and 76 percent of its fiscal year 1998
request. The information we are providing includes trends in the agency’s
carryover balances and potential reductions to its fiscal year 1998 funding

                                   GAO/RCED-97-136B   Bureau   of Indian   Affairs   Budget   Issues
B-276713
requests to reflect the carryover balances expected at the end of fiscal year
1997.’

In summary, during fiscal years 1994 and 1996, unobligated balances in the
Construction account decreased while such balances in the Operation of
Indian Programs account increased. However undelivered orders decreased
for both accounts from $138 million to $90 million and from $267 million to
$231 million, respectively.2 In addition, we found that BlA managers cannot
readily obtain cost and budget information relating to ongoing construction
projects. For example, the information system that BIA uses to track the
construction, operations, and maintenance of its facilities is heavily dependent
on the local input of data; yet less than 5 percent of the users have on-line
computer access. As a result, BIA’s project managers must access several
systems to obtain data on specik construction projects. In addition, in its
budget justification, BIA noted that the information system uses outdated
technology and software and is subject to total breakdown at any time.

The shortcomings in BLA’s information system made it difficult for us to obtain
timely information on the amount of unobligated balances and undelivered
orders for construction projects. Nevertheless, we identified over $4.8 million
in potential reductions to BIA’s fiscal year 1998 budget request-$l.‘l million
from the Construction account and the remaining $3.1 million from the
Operation of Indian Programs account.

AGENCY COMMENTS

We provided a draft of this report to BYA for review and comment. In
commenting on the draft, the Deputy Commissioner; the Director, Office of
Audit and Evaluation; and other officials disagreed with our potential fiscal
year 1998 budget reductions. They noted that BIA has a significant backlog of
repairs for educational facilities and that the funds identified could be used for
the backlogged projects. These officials acknowledged that BIA expects to
carry over about $1.5 million at the end of fiscal year 1997 for the Facilities
Management Information System project and said that any reduction of fiscal
year 1998 funding would adversely affect the agency’s ability to develop a
system to maintain current information on the physical condition of schools


 ‘For the purposes of this report, we define carryover balances as the total of
 unobligated balances and undelivered orders.
 2Undelivered orders are defined as the value of goods and services that have
 been ordered and obligated but have not been received.
 2                              GAOiRCED-97-136R   Bureau   of Indian Affairs   Budget Issues
B-276713
and needed repairs, as well as a system to depreciate real property. They also
said that the carryover balances for the Operation of Indian Programs account
include substantial funds for the “forward-funded” education programs and
suggested that we make note of this fact. We included this information in the
enclosure to this report. In addition, although the officials with whom we met
believe that BLA can spend the $4.8 million that we identified, ultimately the
Congress will decide how the agency should use the funds.

These officials agreed with the proposed elimination of the National
Ironworkers Training Program, United Sioux Tribes Development Corporation,
and United Tribes Technical College, believing, in part, that it is much more
effective to fund programs that benefit as many tribes as possible rather than a
limited number of the Indian population. They also noted that, where
warranted, the funds should be provided to the tribes. The Department of the
Interior noted that BIA has requested funding for the three activities in fiscal
year 1998 because they provide various types of assistance to Indians who
reside in or near reservations.



We obtained information from BIA’s Federal Financial System on the
Construction and the Operation of Indian Programs accounts by program class,
funding code, and division and from the Facility Construction, Operations, and
Maintenance management information system on the status of projects. We
also examined the contract files for some construction activities and discussed
their status and the remaining funds with officials, including those in BIA’s
Federal Management and Construction Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico,
and various project managers. For the Operation of Indian Programs account,
we identified those divisions and program classes with large unobligated
balances and large amounts of undelivered orders. We followed up on
information that BIA had provided to the Office of Management and Budget in
December 1996 on its plans to use unobligated balances. We also identified
and verified undelivered orders that had been outstanding since at least fiscal
year 1994. We performed our work from October 1996 through April 1997 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of the Interior; the
Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs; and various congressional committees.
We will also make copies available to others upon request.




                               GAO/WED-97-136R   Bureau   of Indian Affairs   Budget   Issues
B-276713

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, you can reach me at
(202) 512-3841. Major contributors to this report were Mary Ann Kruslicky,
Michael Sagalow, and Diane Lund.




Enclosure




  4                              GAO/RCED-97-136R   Bureau   of Indian   Affairs   Budget   Issues
ENCLOSURE1                                                            ENCLOSURE1




                 PRESENTATTONSLTDES



w     Resources, Community, and Economic
      Development Division

      BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS


      Information on Potential Budgetary
      Reductions for Fiscal Year 1998




5                     GAO/RCED-97-136R   Bureau of Indian   Affaixs    Budget   Issues
ENCLOSUREI                                                           ENCLOSURE I




w        Bureau of Indian Affairs


     l       Scope: Selected activities from the
         l    Construction account
         l    Operation of Indian Programs account




                                                                      -




 6                          GAOIRCED-97-136R   Bureau of Indian   Affairs   Budget Issues
ENCLOSURE I                                                           ENCLOSURE I




w        Bureau of Indian Affairs


     l       Unobligated balances varied during
             fiscal years 1994 and 1996:
         l    Construction decreased from $160
              million to $121 million
         l    Operation of Indian Programs
              increased from $223 million to $259
              million




7                          GAOIRCED-97-136R   Bureau   of Indian Affairs   Budget Issues
ENCLOSURE I                                                        ENCLOSURE I




w         Bureau of Indian Affairs


      l       Undelivered orders decreased between
              fiscal years 1994 and 1996:
          l    Construction from $138 million to $90
               million
          l    Operation of Indian Programs from
               $267 million to $231 million




                             GAO/RCED-97-136R   Bureau of Indian Affaim Budget Issues
 ENCLOSURE I                                                                                                      ENCLOSURE I




w                    Bureau of Indian Affairs

Trends in Carryover Balance                      Trends in Carryover Balance for
for Construction Account                         Operation of Indian Programs Account
                                                       $inWO)
8 in WOO)
350                                                    “r
      f                                                --
                                                       450
                                                                 I-




200       -                                            350        -


                                                       300        -

                                                                                               _._.-.
                                                       SO-+-------                    _.e.-.
100 -                                                                        _._.-I
                                                                      - -.
                                                                                                           I                           I
                                                       ZM) . ’
                                          I       I          FY94                                       FY96                         FY96
 50           ’
      Fr94                              FY9.5   FY96
                                                              -                  Carryover balance
       C-l        Carryover balance                          Q--Q
      0-Q                                                                        Unobligated balancea
                  Unobligated balance                        #                   Undelivered orders
      #           Undelivered orders

                                                             %cludes forward-funded                education programs.




  9                                             GAO/RCED-97-136R                        Bureau of Indian       A%irs     Budget   Issues
ENCLOSURE I                                                         ENCLOSURE I




QO        Bureau of Indian Affairs

      /

          l   CONSTRUCTION ACCOUNT
          l   Potential fiscal year 1998 reductions of
              over $1.7 million result from, for    1
              example,
              l   Lack of adequate support in budget
                  justification - $1 million for the
                  Facilities Management Information
                  System




 10                         GAOIRCED-97-136R   Bureau of Indian Affairs   Budget Issues
ENCLOSURE I                                                          ENCLOSURE T




w      Bureau of Indian Affairs


       l       Funds not used or needed:
           l    $264,370 from emergency assistance
                arising from Hurricane Andrew and
                other natural disasters
           l    $218,000 for the Crownpoint Boarding
                School roof
           l    $206,000 for the Greasewood School
                gymnasium




11                          GAOLRCED-97-136R   Bureau of Indian Affairs   Budget Issues
ENCLOSURE I                                                             ENCLOSUREII




 w        Bureau of Indian Affairs

          . OPERATION OF INDIAN PROGRAMS
            ACCOUNT
          l       Potential fiscal year 1998 budget
                  reductions of $3.1 million result from,
                  for example,
              l    $1.9 million - United Tribes Technical
                   College
              l    $524,000 - National Ironworkers
                   Training Program




     12                          GAOIRCED-97-136R‘Bureau   of Indian Mkxirs   Budget Issues
ENCLOSURE I                                                               ENCLOSURE I




GJD Bureau of Indian Affairs


                l    $108,000 - United Sioux Tribes
                     Development Corporation
            l       Funds not used or needed.:
                l    $652,886 from emergency assistance
                     arising from Hurricane Andrew and
                     other natural disasters




 (141049)

 13                              GAOiRCED-97-136R   Bureau of Indian Affairs   Budget   Issues
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