Interior seeks trust fund proposals

Interior's High Level Implementation Plan for the Trust Management Improvement Project

Interior Department officials are looking for a technological and business

framework that will bring order to the chaos of operating the Indian land

trust fund.

The fund has been the target of reform since 1994 and the focus of a multibillion-dollar

lawsuit since 1996.

Interior announced on Oct. 26 that it was seeking proposals from contractors

to help the department plan and develop an architecture for its Indian trust

management operation.

According to the solicitation, the contractors will set up an enterprise-architecture

planning workshop to help Interior employees identify systems interfaces

and come up with a plan for streamlining work into an overall technological

architecture.

The winning contractor will be required to meet nine goals, including:

* Develop strategies to improve trust management procedures based on existing

and planned systems.

* Detail technology issues affecting the trust management community.

* Draft changes in management procedures for review.

* Build and manage a Web site to support the project.

Neither Interior nor Bureau of Indian Affairs officials could be reached

for comment on the contract solicitation, which appears to be connected

to Interior's High Level Implementation Plan for the Trust Management Improvement

Project.

The plan calls for improvements to the management of the Indian trust fund.

Last year, BIA contracted with a company for a new trust asset and accounting

management system. But Congress barred Interior from doing anything more

than run it as a test program until Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt

certifies that it meets contract requirements and serves users' needs.

The fiscal 2001 budget does not include a provision for expanding the program.

BIA, which operates within Interior, manages more than 55 million acres

of land, nearly 200,000 individual tracts of land, 100,000 active leases,

350,000 landowners and 2 million owner interests, according to the National

Congress of Indian Affairs.

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