Native American leaders meet with President Barack Obama back in 2010 in Washington, D.C. COURTESY PHOTO

2013 Indian Affairs budget request maintains prior levels

02/22/2012 08:43 AM
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:

  • Rights Protection Implementation (up $3.5 million) to support implementing federal court orders resulting from decisions in off-reservation treaty rights litigation,

  • Tribal Management Development Program (up $2.0 million) to support tribes in the management of their on-reservation fish and game programs,

  • Cooperative Landscape Development (up $800,000) to support participation for the bureau and tribes in the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives,

  • Invasive Species (up $500,000) to support tribal programs that control, manage and eradicate harmful plant and animal species from reservations,

  • Forestry Programs (up $1 million) that develop, maintain and enhance tribal forest resources,

  • Trust Services (up $5.5 million) to support the BIA’s responsibilities of trust services, probate and land titles and records, and

  • Litigation Support/Attorney Fees (up $1.5 million) to assist tribes in protecting trust resources.
    The budget also addresses educational needs from elementary through post secondary and adult education, including security issues at school facilities to ensure environments are safe for students and an educational reform to increase student academic achievement in BIE schools.

  • The request for the BIE is $796.1 million, an increase of $653,000 above the 2012 level, with increases for:

  • Tribal Grant Support Costs (up $2.0 million) to help tribes operating BIE schools cover administrative and indirect costs,

  • Tribal Colleges and Universities (up $2.5 million) to assist in the economic development of tribal communities as they offer resources and facilities to teach community members workplace skills and to support tribal plans for development, and

  • Scholarships (up $710,000) for the BIE’s Scholarships and Adult Education and Special Higher Education Scholarships programs to help adults obtain a GED, provide job skills training and provide financial aid for post secondary and graduate students pursuing degrees in professions that meet tribal communities’ needs.

  • 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:

  • Improved Management (down $19.7 million) includes measures taken and those anticipated to ensure that tribal needs and priorities are addressed to reduce Indian Affairs administrative costs,

  • Realignment (up $1.3 million) includes an increase to reflect the transfer of the Indian Arts and
    Crafts Board from the Office of the Secretary to Indian Affairs, which would oversee the implementation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, as amended,

  • Law Enforcement Special Initiatives (down $2.6 million) reflecting reduced participation on activities such as intelligence sharing,

  • Information Resources Technology (down $6.1 million) due to standardization and consolidation of IT infrastructure,

  • The Indian Student Equalization Program (down $4.5 million) to reflect a decline in student population,

  • Replacement School Construction (down $17.8 million) as it focuses on improving conditions of existing school facilities, and

  • The Indian Guaranteed Loan Program (down $2.1 million) for evaluating of effectiveness.

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