Interior accounts for trust reform
- By Megan Lisagor
- Feb 04, 2002
The Bush administration is asking for $10.6 billion for the Interior Department
in fiscal 2003 a $300 million increase with more money directed to
American Indian trust reform.
Overall, the budget proposal includes $671.6 million in IT spending
about a $44 million increase.
The request provides $83.6 million to meet the mandates of a U.S. District
Court in the case of Cobell v. Norton, class action litigation being fought
on behalf of Indian trust beneficiaries.
"For decades, Indian trust funds have lacked modern accounting systems,
reliable management systems and effective financial control systems," the
budget document says.
In December, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth shut down Interior's
Internet connection after computer security firm Predictive Systems Inc.
broke into departmental systems and reportedly cut a check from funds held
The agency expects to spend $65 million on upgrades, security and getting
back online, according to Frank Quimby, a spokesman for Interior.
"We continue to work on it," Quimby said.
Two agencies with trust management duties, the Office of the Special
Trustee for American Indians and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, each received
a boost in funding.
The budget request includes $161 million for OST to complete such tasks
as implementing modern land title, leasing and accounting systems, addressing
backlogs and improving IT security. It also proposes $153 million for BIA
to expand trust operations.
The Mineral Management Service, another player in trust management,
received a $13.7 million increase, with $6 million set aside to develop
Not all IT funds are going to trust management, however. The budget
request includes $6 million for the National Biological Information Infrastructure
(www.nbii.gov), which enhances access to data on the
nation's biological resources. The amount of data on the site is projected
to more than double by 2003.
Overall, the agency received low marks for its e-government initiatives.
The administration found that Interior places large amounts of public money
at high risk and fails to comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act and the
Clinger-Cohen Act, which requires agencies to reform IT policies and establish
"Due to problems with its tribal trust accounting, DOI cannot provide
assurances that its trust management systems and internal controls meet
federal standards," the president's management "scorecard" says.
Interior has hired a contractor to assess its IT and make recommendations,
which are due in June.