FROM THE ARCHIVE

Reorganization: Meet the 'new' BIA

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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30, 2003

Bush administration officials say the reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of Special Trustee won't be complete for a few more months. But changes are already underfoot.

As an example, Terry Virden is no longer being called the deputy commissioner. He's already assumed the title of "Director." That's how he'll be introduced tomorrow at the BIA's 12th annual law enforcement memorial.

The new reorganization is described in detail in the Department of Interior's updated departmental manual. The web site http://elips.doi.gov does not have the DM posted but look for it soon.

In the meantime, here's a rundown of the changes at the central office. The reason why tribal leaders have said the reorganization is "top heavy" is due to the consolidation of positions and reports in Washington, D.C. There have been some minor tweaks since tribal leaders were shown the changes back in December.

Assistant Secretary / Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
BIA policy will still be directed by the assistant secretary. But there's a new "principal" who, according to the DM, will act in his or her place. Associate Deputy Secretary Jim Cason has said the ASIA and the principal are the same thing.

The acting assistant secretary is Aurene Martin. There has been no public designation of the principal. Teresa Rosier acts as Martin's counselor.

Reporting to the ASIA are:
  • deputy assistant secretary, policy and economic development - a new position that replaces the Office of Economic Development, unfilled
  • deputy assistant secretary, management - Jim McDivitt
  • deputy assistant secretary, information resources management/chief information officer - Brian Burns
  • Office of External Affairs - will combine BIA legislative affairs and public affairs
  • Office of Federal Acknowledgment - new name for the Branch of Acknowledgment and Research
  • Office of Indian Education Programs - Bill Mehojah

    Also reporting to the ASIA is:
    Director, BIA - Terry Virden

    Bureau of Indian Affairs
    No policy here, it's day-to-day functions for the BIA Director. The director will still have authority over the 12 BIA regions but has been stripped of several programs and direct reports.

    Reporting to the BIA Director are:
    deputy director for law enforcement services - Bob Ecoffey
    deputy director tribal services - no confirmation on who will hold this post
    deputy director field operations - ditto
    deputy director trust services - new position, unfilled
    Office of Indian Land Consolidation - a new office, to be run out of Minneapolis, Minn.

    Reporting to the deputy director for field operations are the 12 BIA regional directors. Aurene Martin has shuffled these around so the list is in flux. For example, Franklin Keel of the Eastern Region in Nashville has been asked to move to central office.

    What Happened To?
    Remember of the Office of American Indian Trust (OAIT)? It's been erased in the new DM and its functions have been shuffled throughout the BIA.

    As an example, the sacred site workgroup that former assistant secretary Neal McCaleb rehatched a year ago has been transferred to career employees under Jim McDivitt.

    The Office of Self-Governance and the Office of Audit and Evaluation are no longer separate entities either. Self-governance is now reporting to the deputy assistant secretary, policy and economic development. Audit and evaluation has been moved to Jim McDivitt.

    The Office of Information Resources Management (OIRM), the computer brains of the BIA, has been aligned under the CIO. It used to report to the BIA director / deputy commissioner.

    The Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention used to report to the ASIA. It's been moved underneath the BIA Director.

    Coming Up
    Next, a look at the new Office of Special Trustee (OST).

    Relevant Documents:
    New Assistant Secretary Organization | New BIA Organization | Old BIA

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