OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL U.S.DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR CARES Act Flash Report Bureau of Indian Education Snapshot On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the Coronavirus BIE Overview Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which provided the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) with $756 million The BIE provides funding and to support the needs of DOI programs, bureaus, Indian Country, and oversight for 55 Bureau- the Insular Areas. operated schools and 132 tribally controlled schools. Its As part of the CARES Act, the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) mission is to provide received $69 million from the DOI to prevent, prepare for, and education and tribal culture respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The BIE can use this funding for for students of all ages. The K – 12 schools, tribal colleges and universities, salaries, transportation, BIE serves in the capacity of a and IT. State Education Agency and administers and oversees the In addition to the CARES Act funding appropriated directly to the Department of Education’s DOI, the CARES Act’s Education Stabilization Fund required the U.S. programs in BIE-funded Department of Education to set aside $153.75 million for programs schools. The Department of operated or funded by the BIE, in consultation with the Secretary of Education transfers funds to educate and provide services Interior. to students attending BIE- funded elementary and The CARES Act money will provide much-needed assistance for secondary schools. Indian schools. This report provides a snapshot of the BIE’s funding and planned expenditures. Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the The BIE’s CARES Act Spend Plan Department of Education annually transfers funds to According to the BIE’s spend plan, which covers the $69 million in the BIE for eligible programs. Operation of Indian Education Programs and the $153.75 million from The BIE also receives an the Education Stabilization Fund, the BIE will distribute: annual grant from the Department of Education • The $69 million in Operation of Indian Education Programs under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. funding between K – 12 schools and dormitories (67 percent) and tribal colleges and universities (33 percent) Tribal postsecondary schools are also funded by a • The $153.75 million from the Education Stabilization Fund combination of sources between funded K – 12 schools and dormitories (70 percent), including the BIE, the tribal colleges and universities (20 percent), and administrative Department of Education, and withholdings (10 percent) other Federal agencies. The BIE’s goals for its CARES Act funding are distinct from yet complement those of the Department of Education’s Education Stabilization Fund. CARES Act Flash Report • No. 2020-FIN-050 • Issued July 14, 2020 1 Operation of Indian Education Programs The BIE’s $69 million in CARES Act funding will target immediate student needs related to mental health and safety, staff training, and IT investments. Specifically, this funding will equip individual schools with the necessary resources to provide customized solutions to reopening challenges in all locations. As of June 29, 2020, the BIE had obligated $49,725,156 in CARES Act funding to K – 12 schools and tribal colleges and universities. The BIE uses a formula to determine how to distribute funds to schools. The formula The BIE plans to allocate CARES Act funds to Bureau-operated and incorporates the student tribally controlled schools using a weighted formula to ensure that count for the entire school schools have flexibility to prioritize local school needs based on the year (called the Average Daily level of immediate impact from COVID-19. See Figure 1 for a Membership or ADM) and a breakdown of obligated funds as of June 29, 2020. Weighted Student Unit (WSU) for each school. The WSU is Figure 1: The BIE Obligated $49,725,156 for the calculated by weighting the Operation of Indian Education Programs ADM for each school to (as of June 29, 2020) account for the school's requirements for special K-12 Schools, services such as basic $30,232,346 education, language development, and gifted and 39% talented programs as well as residential requirements. 61% Five Funding Areas for the Operation of Indian Tribal Colleges Education Programs & Universities, $19,492,810 1. Immediate facilities, maintenance, transportation, and PPE The BIE conducted comprehensive outreach and information gathering readiness to determine the immediate IT challenges and needs for each school. 2. Student mental health or In addition, the BIE established a detailed, school-by-school inventory safety needs while of equipment and software needs and individual school-level IT spend returning to normal plans. operations This funding will enable schools to address the need for physical 3. Immediate IT needs to facility modifications and transportation enhancements as students and support instruction communities prepare to return to daily busing, physical attendance in 4. Computer updates and classrooms, and residential and dormitory operations. In addition, the capacity building funding will ensure that each school has an adequate level of personal 5. Immediate training on new protective equipment (PPE) for students and staff. learning platforms for staff and students The BIE will also be able to use this funding to deploy targeted mental health resources through contract services and address safety needs to CARES Act Flash Report • No. 2020-FIN-050 • Issued July 14, 2020 2 ensure students, teachers, and communities are prepared for the return to normal operations. In locations particularly affected by the pandemic, this funding may also be used to implement a comprehensive safety alert and phone notification system. In addition, this funding will target immediate hardware and software needs to facilitate student access to online learning resources. The funding may also be used to increase schools’ capacity to deliver immediate education instruction. The funding will also help two tribal colleges and universities make IT investments and critical IT staff. Top Five Recipients Further, the funding will be used to train teachers and other school- level staff on the newly established IT systems. 1. Navajo Technical College $2,534,000 Education Stabilization Funds 2. Navajo Nation Tribal Government The objective of the Education Stabilization Fund is to prevent, $2,522,270 prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Education allocated funds from the Education Stabilization Fund to 3. Mississippi Band of Choctaw six major components, including the BIE. The types of assistance to be Central Schools $2,299,300 awarded are formula and project grants. 4. Oglala Lakota College The Department of Education and the BIE negotiated an interagency $1,994,460 agreement to govern the terms of the $153.75 million in transferred 5. Santa Fe Indian School, Inc. funds. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget provided feedback $1,189,600 to both agencies on the proposed agreement, and the Department of Education and the DOI signed the agreement on June 12, 2020. The agreement directs the BIE to make every effort to distribute the funds The CARES Act authorized a Catalog of Federal Domestic with 90 days of the transfer. Assistance number (CFDA No. 84.425) for the Department of The transfer of Education Stabilization Funds to the BIE began on Education’s Education June 15, 2020, and the total transferred amount became available to Stabilization Fund. the BIE on June 17, 2020. The BIE plans to focus its The Department of Education initiated the transfer of funds to spending of funds from the the BIE on June 15, 2020, meaning the BIE’s effective deadline Education Stabilization Fund for distributing the funds is September 15, 2020. to schools for two areas: 1. IT Systems Planning and The purpose of the funding from the Department of Education is to Life-Cycle Sustainability help schools plan for and address mid- to long-term challenges in – to acquire IT equipment, providing continuity of instruction, such as gaps in IT infrastructure. software, platforms, and With support from the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA’s) IT learning systems that are department, project management staff, and school-level leadership, the focused on schools’ long- BIE will target IT learning systems that support the long-term term needs sustainability of distance education. 2. Broadband and Connectivity – to target The BIE is required to use the $153.75 million from the Education systemic infrastructure Stabilization Fund as follows: investment needs and connectivity improvements CARES Act Flash Report • No. 2020-FIN-050 • Issued July 14, 2020 3 • No less than 90 percent must go to BIE-funded schools, including K – 12 schools, early childhood education programs, and tribal colleges and universities. • The BIE may use the remaining funds for emergency needs to address issues in responding to COVID-19. • The BIE may reserve up to half of 1 percent (approximately $768,750) of the total allocation for administrative costs. We reached out to the BIE and the Department of Education to gain an The BIE plans to allocate the understanding of the fund transfer agreement. The Department of administrative withholdings as Education told us that it needed to reach an agreement with the BIE on follows: several key issues, including details on how the funds will be spent in accordance with applicable Federal laws and how the BIE will meet • $8 million for direct mental and behavioral health the reporting requirements in Section 15011 of the CARES Act. support Because each BIE-funded school faces unique COVID-19-related • $5 million to upgrade the challenges, and pursuant to current Department of Education’s internet speed at five guidelines, specific amounts will vary by school. schools • $2.4 million to address Reporting unforeseen health and safety challenges over the The BIE plans to assign financial analysts to each school and office to 2020 – 2021 school year evaluate school-level spend plans and monitor the use of funds. We discuss reporting milestones required by Section 15011(b)(1) of the CARES Act in our Where’s the Money report dated June 15, 2020 (Report No. 2020-FIN-046). The BIE is also required to submit reports The BIE’s first quarter to the DOI’s budget office. In addition, the recipients will need to report to the Department submit financial reports (SF-425s) for the funds; however, most of the of Education will include: obligated funds are attached to existing agreements that already require SF-425s. The BIE will also provide copies of all reports on the • A copy of the budget, use of Education Stabilization Funds to the Department of Education. including activities funded with the amounts BIE is In addition, the BIE will submit a first quarter report to the Department reserving for system-wide of Education with information on the budget, internal controls, and activities allocations as well as a third quarter report that includes any updates to • An internal controls plan the first quarter report. It will also provide a final report by December that includes monitoring 31, 2021, describing what activities these funds supported and the for all funds allocated to results of those activities. BIE-funded schools and tribal colleges and In our Lessons Learned for CARES Act Awards report dated May 2020 universities (Report No. 2020-FIN-037), we discussed issues with the lack of monitoring and documentation, the use of funds for tribes, and • Information on allocations deficient review of recipients’ performance and financial reports. to BIE-funded schools and program Further, our June 2020 Lessons Learned for Indian Country report (Report No. 2020-FIN-045) noted that the key action for the BIE was CARES Act Flash Report • No. 2020-FIN-050 • Issued July 14, 2020 4 to ensure that proper internal controls are in place to monitor and track ,., , CARES Act funds. The BIE should be able to achieve this by assigning financial analysts to each school. ,, Funding Timeline I 1 April 1 The BIE receives the apportionment of $69 ? million from the Department of the Treasury. April 8 The Department of Education receives apportionment of the Education Stabilization Local educational agencies Fund from the Department of the Treasury. may use the funding from the Education Stabilization April 16 The BIE issues the first grant award using Fund for activities such as: the $69 million in CARES Act funds. April 28 & 30 The Department of Education and the BIE • Coordinating preparedness hold joint listening sessions to gather input and response efforts with from tribes and other stakeholders on use State, local, tribal, and of the funds. territorial public health April 30 The DOI approves the BIE’s initial spend departments and other plan for the $69 million. relevant agencies May 6 Written comments from the public are due • Training on sanitation and to the BIE and the Department of minimizing the spread of Education. infectious diseases May 18 The Secretary of the Interior requests further information on the spend plan for • Purchasing supplies to the BIE’s $69 million and $154 million. The sanitize and clean facilities BIE collects additional information and redrafts the spend plan per the Secretary’s • Planning for long-term request. closures to include providing meals to eligible June 3 The DOI approves the BIE’s spend plan. students and technology June 12 The BIE and the Department of Education for online learning jointly sign a funding agreement that sets a September 15, 2020 deadline for • Purchasing educational distributing the funds. technology (i.e., hardware, software, and June 15 The Department of Education initiates a connectivity) for all transfer of funds to the BIE. students June 16 The Department of the Treasury transfers $154 million from the Department of • Providing mental health Education to the BIE through a non- services and support expenditure transfer. • Planning and implementing June 17 The BIA prepares the FBMS to make the activities related to funds available. summer learning and September 15 The BIE’s effective deadline for distributing supplemental afterschool the funds is 90 days after the June 15, 2020 programs transfer. CARES Act Flash Report • No. 2020-FIN-050 • Issued July 14, 2020 5
Bureau of Indian Education Snapshot
Published by the Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General on 2020-07-14.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)