2013 Indian Affairs budget request maintains prior levels
By STAFF REPORTS
WASHINGTON – President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget request for Indian Affairs, which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education, is $2.5 billion – a $4.6 million decrease below the FY 2012 level.
Officials said the proposed budget maintains the president’s commitment to meeting the government’s responsibilities to the 566 American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, while toeing fiscal responsibility line and improving government efficiency.
“The budget request maintains President Obama’s commitment to strengthening tribal nations by making targeted increases in Indian Affairs programs that support tribal self-determination in managing BIA-funded programs, increase public safety in tribal communities by strengthening police capabilities, improve the administration of tribal land, mineral, timber and other trust resources and advance Indian education,” Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry EchoHawk said. “Indian Affairs is sensitive to the need for achieving greater results at a lower cost, and the proposed budget reflects the tough choices that will make us more cost efficient in carrying out our missions.”
The request includes $43.8 million in nation-to-nation relationships (up $12.3 million), protecting Indian Country (up $11 million), improving trust land management (up $15.4 million) and advancing Indian education (up $5.2 million).
Under nation-to-nation relationships, the budget request for Contract Support is $228.0 million – an $8.8 million increase – which enables a tribe operating BIA-funded programs to meet administrative costs without decreasing program funds. It also includes an increase of $3.5 million for land and water claim settlements.
The request for BIA Law Enforcement is $353.9 million with targeted increases of $11 million for law enforcement operations, detention center operations and tribal courts. The request for law enforcement operations builds on increases from previous years – for a total of $189.7 million – for criminal investigations and police services to enable the BIA to improve its recruitment and hiring for law enforcement officers and detention center staff, including veterans.
The request includes $88.2 million for detention center operations – an increase of $6.5 million – for staffing, training and equipment to increase capacity to hold and process detainees and to fund operations at newly constructed detention facilities.
The request includes $24.6 million for tribal courts to support the enhanced capabilities given to them in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009.
The funding also supports the expansion of a 2010 program launched to reduce crime on four reservations with high violent crime rates. The program resulted in a 35 percent combined reduction in violent crime. Two additional reservations with high crime rates will be added to this initiative.
The DOI has also undertaken an overhaul of the federal fee-to-trust process. As a result, between 2009 and 2011 the DOI processed 697 applications. The 2013 budget request supports improving trust land management through a program increase of $15.4 million for:
The request for the BIE is $796.1 million, an increase of $653,000 above the 2012 level, with increases for:
The budget also requests $36.3 million for BIA Land and Water Claim Settlements to fund settlements that help deliver clean drinking water to Indian communities and provide certainty to water users across the West.
In accordance with a 2011 Obama’s memo, the 2013 budget request includes reductions and identifies efficiencies that can be achieved through consolidation, cost cutting, realignments and program decreases such as:
Native American leaders meet with President Barack Obama back in 2010 in Washington, D.C. COURTESY PHOTO