FROM THE ARCHIVE
Norton welcomes trust reform monitor
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APRIL 25, 2001

At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Secretary of Interior Gale Norton welcomed the appointment of a court monitor to oversee trust reform efforts at her department.

"We've recently reached an agreement with Judge [Royce] Lamberth that we will have a court-appointed monitor" to oversee trust reform, said Norton. "We believe this will be beneficial to the department as well as to Congress in providing objective information about this process."

Lamberth last week appointed Joseph S. Keiffer III to oversee reform. He will provide reports to the court on the Interior's progress at a rate of $250 an hour.

Trust reform at the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks with the revelation of one official that the project is "slowly, but surely imploding." Chief Information Officer Dom Nessi told Special Trustee Tom Slonaker, the Interior official financially responsible for tribal and individual Indian trust fund accounts, of a number of concerns he had about reform.

Slonaker has since told two Congressional committees that trust reform is indeed working and the Interior is on track to meeting key milestones in its attempt to fix more than one hundreds years of financial mismanagement.

President Bush's fiscal year 2002 budget asks for about $165 million for trust reform. The bulk of the money goes to Slonaker's office and the rest to the BIA.

"As I have learned more about that budget and the problems we face, I'm struck by what tremendous obstacles we need to overcome," said Norton. "We will work to ensure that those are very high priority for the department."

Relevant Links:
Trust Management Improvement Project - http://www.doi.gov/bia/trust/tmip.htm
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Senate Subcommittee on Interior Appropriations - http://www.senate.gov/~appropriations/interior/index.htm

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Memo: Trust reform project needs extra attention (4/11)
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Report: Litigation threatening reform project (3/8)
Message to Norton: Don't Threaten Us (3/7)
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EDITORIAL: Pay Indian account holders ( 3/1)
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