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Position paper on trust reform

It is very clear as to the intent of Secretary Norton. Take all trust functions away from the Office of Special Trustee and BIA and create the Bureau of Indian Trust Asset Management (BITAM). Do it with little consultation from the tribes, BIA, OST, Congress or anyone else. And keep in mind that this is not for the sake of Indian country. No, it is purely being done for her sake.

And why is this being done? Has the Interior Department suddenly decided it was time to "fix" the trust fund and assets mess? No, it is in response to the Cobell court case. If Secretary Norton did not respond as she has, the Court may have taken the trust authority and placed it under a receivership. And of course there was still the contempt of court charge hanging over her head.

And by doing this Secretary Norton is able to shift attention away from the fact that the Trust Asset Accounting Management System (TAAMS) has been a scandalous nightmare for the BIA, having spent tens of millions of dollars on a system that does not work. They have lied to the Court, Tribes, and Congress about the "success" of TAAMS knowing full well it does not do the job it was intended to do.

And finally by creating a new department, there is also the possibility that the BIA could be completely gutted and have to compete with the new agency for valuable resources. Keep also in mind that all contracting and compacting goes over to BITAM. This may make the "638" contracting of Police, Courts, etc. very difficult as they would stay under the BIA.

Additionally Neal McCaleb said at Spokane that they were going to transfer all trust functions over to BITAM. He said that all "empowerment" programs like roads, welfare, law enforcement, etc. would stay with the BIA. This potentially could have a critical impact in years to come as these programs may be declassified as "trust" programs and we could lose them.

What do we do?

We must be cognizant of the fact that tribes all over the nation are currently responding to this. Most are in opposition but do have a solution. Unfortunately, most are not aware of the history or the facts. I have been on top of this issue for 11years now and as such have a strong background of the issues.

Our resolution ("Trust Reform Solution", CRST 12-02-CR) is simple and to the point. Keep in mind that the DOI is basing this reorganization on the Electronic Data System report. Remember the EDS report says:

?Immediately appoint a single, accountable Trust Reform Executive Sponsor

?Develop an overarching trust operations business model

?Adopt an overall business and computer systems architecture

?Adopt a consistent information systems acquisition strategy

?Implement consistent technology frameworks, methods and tools

?Establish a trust program management center

?Execute comprehensive staffing plans for all participating organizations

BITAM cannot do this because it does not consolidate all trust activities under a single trust reform executive sponsor. The intent of Interior Secretary Norton is to take all trust functions away from OST and BIA and create BITAM, thereby giving this new agency those functions, but she does not transfer any authority from MMS, BLM or any other agency of the DOI. This in itself falls far short of the EDS report.

Our resolution respectfully requests the Department of Interior through the Honorable Gale Norton, Secretary of Interior, to consider the following recommendations for trust management reform:

Consolidate all trust activities such as OTFM, MMS and others under the Bureau of Indian Affairs

?Place all above activities under the existing Director of Trust within the BIA

?Allow tribes' input into the architecture of the High Level Implementation Plan.

?Implement the High Level Implementation Plan under the newly consolidated trust management program under the Director of Trust in the BIA

While the resolution is simple and to the point, it allows the full EDS recommendations to be carried out. The task force or advisory committee can then flesh out all the final details.

We can see this as the simple, cost-effective solution to trust fund reform. It keeps the BIA totally intact while strengthening it. It allows for the creation of one centralized system under the BIA for Trust Fund Management.