FROM THE ARCHIVE
House panel to hold hearings on BIA overhaul
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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2001

The House Committee on Resources will hold hearings on the controversial reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the panel's ranking Democrat said today.

"I have called for the House Resources Committee to conduct a comprehensive hearing on the Department of Interior's newly proposed trust fund agency because I am disturbed that the Department's reorganization plan deliberately neglected to obtain input from the trust fund account holders," said Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.). "Reorganization without appropriate tribal input is unacceptable.

The hearing will be held February 6, said Rep. Jim Hansen (R-Utah), the commitee chairman. "We've had problems with this trust fund for decades. The GAO told us five years ago that the fund was in shambles," he said.

"Now we learn that a computer security system deployed in 1999 is virtually worthless," Hansen added, pointing to a devastating report made public on Tuesday.

Hansen has invited four witness from the Interior. They include Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles, Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb, Special Trustee Thomas Slonaker and Ross Swimmer, the recently appointed director of the Office of Indian Trust Transition.

"I particularly want to hear what they're doing about these long-standing problems with poor accounting, inadequate staff and poor procedures," said Hansen of these officials. "I think Secretary Norton has made some strong strides, but obviously there's more to be done."

The committee also said it would have a panel of tribal witnesses and a panel of Congressional members.

Tribal leaders have said they would look to the Resources committee to hold hearings. They indicated they expected discussions next year.

Today on Indianz.Com:
New: DOI shuts down trust network (12/5)
Report reveals attacks on tribal, Indian trust (12/5)
No Trust: Hacking the Department of Interior (12/5)

Relevant Links:
House Resources Committee - http://resourcescommittee.house.gov
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://indiantrust.doi.gov
Office of the Special Trustee - http://www.ost.doi.gov
Trust Management Improvement Project - http://www.doi.gov/bia/trust/tmip.htm
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com

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