EchoHawk admits 'no way' to clear BIA school backlog
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The segment about the $1.3 billion backlog begins around 71:30 into the webcast. The segment about the school construction priority list and the "FCI" list begins around 47:14 into the webcast.

Assistant Secretary Larry Echo Hawk acknowledged on Thursday that the Bureau of Indian Affairs won't ever clear a $1.3 billion backlog in school construction at the current rate of funding.

Echo Hawk said President Barack Obama has requested $52.9 million in fiscal year 2011 for three school construction projects. That's $9 million less than current levels.

"Under your current funding levels you've requested, there's no way you can clear it out," said Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing.

"There's no way," responded Echo Hawk.

The $1.3 billion figure is based on a internal BIA document that lists 64 schools in need of work. To determine the order to fund the projects, the BIA has historically developed a school construction priority list.

The priority list hasn't been updated since 2004. Echo Hawk said the BIA, through a negotiated rulemaking committee set up by the No Child Left Behind Act, is in the process of coming up with a new list.

The internal BIA document was updated more recently -- on December 31, 2009 -- and it was posted on the BIA's website yesterday. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) has asked for the list repeatedly but said he was given different answers about it.

"This isn't the first time that I've been told something in these hearings ... that wasn't true," said. Franken, who had asked about the list in November.

Committee Notice:
OVERSIGHT HEARING to Examine Tribal Programs and Initiatives Proposed in the President’s Fiscal Year 2011 Budget (February 25, 2010)

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Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds budget hearing (2/25)