National | Trust

Budget seeks small boost in funding for Office of Special Trustee

Vince Logan. Photo from Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians

The fiscal year 2016 budget request includes $143 million for the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians.

The request is $3.9 million above the 2015 level. It marks the first time in several years that the agency has seen even a slight increase in funds after record growth during the Bush administration.

Of the increase, $1.6 million will be used to provide more estate planning for individual Indian beneficiaries. Another $1.2 million will go towards an appraiser training program to address delays in evaluations in Indian Country.

Finally, $1 million will be used expand the records training program at Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas. The money will also go to create new records training programs at two additional tribal colleges.

"The OST has operational responsibility for financial trust fund management, including receipt, investment, and disbursement of Indian trust funds, and for real estate appraisals on Indian trust lands," a budget document released today states.

"The OST manages nearly $4.9 billion held in nearly 3,300 trust accounts for more than 250 Indian tribes and over 397,000 open Individual Indian Money accounts," the document continued. "The balances that have accumulated in the trust funds have resulted generally from judgment awards, settlement of claims, land-use agreements, royalties on natural resource use, other proceeds derived directly from trust resources, and financial investment income."

The Special Trustee for American Indians is Vince Logan, a member of the Osage Nation, oversees trust management and trust reform at the Interior Department. He was confirmed to the post in June 2014 after a five-year vacancy under the Obama administration.

OST has been assisting in settlements with tribes that filed trust mismanagement lawsuits against the federal government. The Interior Department has resolved dozens of cases for more than $2.61 billion as of September 2014.

While more than 70 cases have been settled since President Barack Obama took office, some 50 cases are pending in the federal courts, according to the budget document.

FY2016 Budget Documents:
Indian Affairs | Strengthening Tribal Nations and Insular Communities | Fact Sheet | Departmental Offices [Includes Office of Special Trustee] | Budget In Brief

Related Stories:
Special Trustee Vince Logan seeks nominees for advisor board (12/01)
Vince Logan starts work as leader of Office of Special Trustee (07/11)
Senate confirms Vince Logan to run Office of the Special Trustee (06/26)

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