In this Memorandum we report on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s recommendations for FY 2018 funding for Indian Affairs (which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)), as well as a few other selected programs in the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not voted on this, rather the Committee released the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies bill language and accompanying explanatory statement as a “Chairman’s Mark”. This “Chairman’s Mark” will be used as a negotiating position with the House as the House has already passed its own FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill (see our General Memorandum 17-044 of August 25, 2017). We include both House and Senate Committee numbers in this memorandum.
As of this writing, the federal government is being funded via a “Continuing Resolution” (CR) which by and large continues FY 2017 funding levels and conditions to January 19, 2018. Given Congress’s inability to come to an agreement on whether or how to increase discretionary budget caps for FY 2018, we understand that yet another CR (the fourth this fiscal year) may be likely, this time extending at least some into February. If Congress does come to an agreement on increasing the budget caps, at least some of the appropriations bills will need to be reconfigured to reflect this—creating a potential opportunity for increases for Indian Country’s priorities.
INDIAN AFFAIRS (IA) OVERVIEW
Fortunately for Indian Country, both the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Chairman’s Mark and the House’s Omnibus bill recommend similar funding levels for Indian Affairs: $2.8 billion. This reflects a nearly wholesale rejection of the $371.7 million in cuts proposed by the Trump Administration (including the proposed cuts to the Tiwahe Initiative), a consensus on updating the estimate for Contract Support Costs, and a modest increase above FY 2017. In keeping with prior years, the following statement of values was included in the House Report:
The Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs (together, “Indian Affairs”) provide services directly or through contracts, grants, or compacts to a service population of more than 1.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) who are enrolled members of 567 federally recognized Tribes in the 48 contiguous United States and Alaska. While the role of the organization has changed significantly in the last four decades in response to a greater emphasis on Indian self-determination, Tribes still look to Indian Affairs for a broad spectrum of services. Almost 85 percent of all appropriations are expended at the local level, and over 62 percent of appropriations provided directly to Tribes and Tribal organizations through grants, contracts, and compacts. In preparation for the fiscal year 2018 appropriation bill, the Subcommittee held two days of hearings and received testimony from over 75 witnesses on a variety of topics pertaining to AI/AN programs. The Federal government has a legal and moral obligation to provide quality services to American Indians and Alaska Natives. On a nonpartisan basis, the Committee continues to protect and, where possible, strengthen the budgets for Indian Country programs in this bill in order to address longstanding and underfunded needs [emphasis added].
Request for Indian Reorganization Act – Carcieri Fix Not Included. Each fiscal year from FY 2011 to FY 2017, the Obama Administration requested and Congress continued to not provide language which would reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 decision that the Secretary of the Interior does not have authority to take land into trust for tribes under federal jurisdiction after 1934. The Trump Administration did not request this Carcieri Fix language, nor does the House or the Senate Committee bill provide it.
Authorization for the Tohono O’odham Nation to Accept Road Funding From U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The updated version of the House’s bill now includes the following provision, “Provided further, That the Bureau of Indian Affairs may accept transfers of funds from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to supplement any other funding available for reconstruction or repair of roads on the Tohono O’odham Nation.” The Nation had raised this issue in Congressional testimony and in other forums.
NATIVE Act Implementation. Both the House and the Senate Committee include in their Report and Explanatory Statement direction to the Administration on implementing the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act (NATIVE Act, PL 114-221). The NATIVE Act is designed to facilitate international and domestic tourism in tribal communities via updating federal agency tourism strategies and providing increased resources and technical assistance to tribes, tribal organizations, and Native Hawaiian organizations for their tourism efforts. The focus of the NATIVE Act is the utilization of tribal communities’ rich and diverse cultures and histories in the visitor experience (for further information, see our General Memorandum 16-060 of October 7, 2016).
OPERATION OF INDIAN PROGRAMS
FY 2017 Enacted $2,339,346,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $2,082,506,000
FY 2018 House Committee $2,360,911,000
FY 2018 House Rules 8-Bill Minibus $2,362,211,000*
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $2,365,373,000
Operation of Indian Programs (OIP) budget includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE).
The House Report directs, “Indian Affairs is expected to execute its budget in accordance with the justification submitted to the Congress, except as otherwise directed below and summarized in the table at the end of this report.”
Fixed Costs and Transfers. From within this total, the Administration requests $17.1 million for fixed cost increases as well as a number of transfers between accounts.
The House and Senate Committee Mark agree to these requests.
*$1.3 Million Increase. The House Rules Committee print of the 8-Bill Minibus increases the amount recommended for Operation of Indian Programs by $1.3 million above the House Appropriations Committee recommendations; however, it does not detail which to accounts within OIP that increase would be directed. Thus, some amounts within OIP will be slightly higher than reported below.
Government Accountability Office (GAO) Reports. The Senate Committee reminds the Bureau of the importance of meeting reporting requirements, noting:
The addition of programs to the Government Accountability Office’s [GAO] 2017 high risk list (GAO–17–317) indicate there are several challenges to overcome in order to improve the Federal management of programs that serve Tribes and their members. The Committee stands ready to work with the Bureau to implement the GAO recommendations necessary changes to make these improvements and strongly encourages the Bureau to timely submit the reporting requirements and directives contained in this report.
BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS
FY 2017 Enacted $1,447,833,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $1,296,134,000 FY 2018 House $1,458,999,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $1,476,517,000
Activities within the Bureau of Indian Affairs are: Tribal Government; Human Services; Trust-Natural Resources Management; Trust-Real Estate Services; Public Safety and Justice; Community and Economic Development; and Executive Direction and Administrative Services.
FY 2017 Enacted $308,815,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $290,307,000
FY 2018 House $312,600,000
FY2018 Senate Committee Mark $316,007,000
The Tribal Government sub-activities are: Aid to Tribal Government; Consolidated Tribal Government Program; Self-Governance Compacts; New Tribes; Small and Needy Tribes; Road Maintenance; and Tribal Government Program Oversight.
The House and the Senate Committee largely rejected the Administration’s proposed cuts, including the proposal to zero out funding for the Small and Needy Tribes sub-activity. For some sub-activities, modest increases are recommended.
Consolidated Tribal Government Program. The Senate Committee recommends level funding for this sub-activity, stating:
The Senate Committee is concerned about the Consolidated Tribal Government Program TPA internal transfer of $1,733,000 and has included the fiscal year 2017 enacted level of $75,429,000 for this program. The Committee requests the Bureau report back to the Committee within 30 days of enactment of this act with a description of the number of Tribes that use this program and how increases for this program compare to others that offer similar services.
New Tribes. This sub-activity provides $160,000 in Tribal Priority Allocation (TPA) base funding per tribe to support newly federally-recognized tribes. Once a tribe has been acknowledged, it remains in this category for three fiscal years. The Administration proposed $160,000 (level funding) to assist the newly-recognized Pamunkey Tribe. Both House and Senate Committee concurred with this funding level. The Senate Committee Explanatory Statement states:
The recommendation supports $160,000 for new Tribes and notes the challenge of reconciling the timing of the Tribal recognition process with the annual budget formulation process. If additional Tribes are recognized during fiscal year 2018 beyond those contemplated in the budget request, the Bureau is urged to support their capacity building efforts to the extent feasible.
The Committee is also aware that new Tribes seeking Tribal recognition are often met with delay. The Committee expects the Bureau to efficiently administer the Tribal recognition process and strongly encourages action on pending requests.
Road Maintenance. The House and the Senate Committee both recommend increases for this sub-activity, just differing amounts. The House recommends $31,653,000, an increase of $1,346,000 above FY 2017. Further, the House Report specifies that, “Not less than $1,000,000 must be used to improve the condition of gravel roads and bridges used by school buses transporting students.” The Senate Committee recommends $33,653,000, stating that:
The Committee is concerned about the future funding of the Road Maintenance account, the backlog for deferred maintenance of roads in Indian Country, and the implementation of roads data in the National Tribal Transportation Facility Inventory; therefore, the Committee directs the Bureau to report back to the Committee within 60 days of enactment of this act on how the Bureau plans to allocate the funds provided in the bill and the progress being made to implement the GAO recommendations outlined in the report GAO–17–423. Within the program increase for road maintenance, $1,000,000 is to be directed towards the implementation of the NATIVE Act of 2016.
FY 2017 Enacted $159,161,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $123,949,000
FY 2018 House $159,540,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $161,063,000
The Human Services sub-activities are: Social Services; Welfare Assistance; Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA); Housing Improvement Program (HIP); Human Services Tribal Design; and Human Services Program Oversight.
Tiwahe Initiative. The House and the Senate Committee rejected the Administration’s proposed cuts to the individual Human Services sub-activities (many of which support the broader Tiwahe Initiative) as well as the Administration’s proposal to zero out funding for the Tiwahe Initiative demonstration project and the Housing Improvement Program sub-activity. Instead, the House Report affirms the importance of culturally-appropriate services to strengthen families and communities:
The Committee continues to recognize the importance of providing culturally-appropriate services with the goals of empowering individuals and families through health promotion, family stability, and strengthening Tribal communities as a whole. Indian Affairs is urged to make services available to law enforcement officers, in coordination with the Indian Health Service.
The Senate Committee concurs and requests the following report:
The recommendation includes funding to continue the Tiwahe Initiative at the enacted levels. The Committee believes this initiative is a way to help strengthen Tribal communities by leveraging programs and resources; however, it is important to measure program effectiveness. The Committee directs the Bureau to report back in 90 days of enactment of this act on the performance measures being used to monitor and track the initiative’s effectiveness in Indian country.
Welfare Assistance. The Senate Committee requests the following report:
The Committee is concerned about the funding distribution for welfare assistance and directs the Bureau to report back to the Committee upon enactment of this act on how this funding would be distributed.
TRUST–NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
FY 2017 Enacted $200,992,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $165,462,000
FY 2018 House $200,340,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $203,935,000
The Trust–Natural Resources Management sub-activities are: Natural Resources, general; Irrigation Operation and Maintenance; Rights Protection Implementation; Tribal Management/Development Programs; Endangered Species; Tribal Climate Resilience/Cooperative Landscape Conservation; Integrated Resource Information; Agriculture and Range; Forestry; Water Resources; Fish/Wildlife & Parks; and Resource Management Oversight.
The House and the Senate Committee largely rejected the Administration’s proposed cuts, as well as the Administration’s proposal to zero out funding for the Tribal Climate Resilience/Cooperative Landscape Conservation sub-activity. Instead, they recommended that the Trust–Natural Resources Management sub-activities be funded at close to FY 2017 enacted levels.
Irrigation Operation and Maintenance. Notably, the Administration requested a rare $1.1 million increase for this sub-activity to which the both the House and Senate Committee concurred. As the Administration explains, this increase would be directed towards the Operations and Maintenance for the Gallegos Pumping Plant because in FY 2016, the responsibility for the plant was transferred from the Bureau of Reclamation to the BIA without any accompanying funds. Regarding funding for Indian irrigation projects generally, the Senate Committee states:
The Senate Committee is aware the Indian Irrigation Fund was passed as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, which became Public Law 114–322. This law authorized the creation of an Indian irrigation fund within the United States Treasury in order to address the deferred maintenance and water storage needs of irrigation projects. The Committee understands the significant infrastructure needs of Indian irrigation systems and strongly supports finding a way to provide a reliable water infrastructure source for Tribes. The Committee requests the Bureau report back to the Committee within 60 days of enactment of this act on the progress of establishing this fund and the estimated costs of deficiencies of the current inventory of irrigation systems.
Water Resources and Wildlife and Parks. The House Report specifies that of the $10,581,000 the Committee recommended for the Water Resources sub-activity, $390,000 is to continue the Seminole and Miccosukee water study and that of the $15,260,000 recommended for the Wildlife and Parks sub-activity, $9,933,000 is for Projects.
Cooperative Agreements and Alaska Subsistence. The Senate Committee directs:
It is the Committee’s understanding the Bureau has entered into cooperative
agreements with Ahtna Inter Tribal Resource Commission and the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Commission with other organizations interested in establishing similar agreements; therefore, it is the Committee’s expectation that within the funding provided, pilot projects and programs for Alaska subsistence will continue.
Resiliency. The House Report directs:
The Committee supports the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ efforts to address the resiliency needs of Tribal communities by working to address threats to public safety, natural resources, and sacred sites. Consistent with the Federal government’s treaty and trust obligations, the Committee directs the Bureau of Indian Affairs to work with at-risk Tribes to identify and expedite the necessary resources. The Department of the Interior is expected to promote and expand the use of agreements with Indian Tribes to protect Indian trust resources from catastrophic wildland fire, insect and disease infestation, or other threats from adjacent Federal lands, as authorized by law.
Tribal Partnerships with USGS. The Senate Committee directs:
The Committee directs the Bureau to enter into a formal partnership with local Tribes and the United States Geological Survey to help develop a water quality strategy for transboundary rivers.
Wildland Fire Coordination. The Senate Committee directs:
The Committee directs the Bureau to coordinate with the Office of Wildland Fire and submit a report describing how the Department determines the use of wildfire suppression and rehabilitation resources, prioritizes Indian forest land, and the title to which is held by the United States in trust.
Drought. The Senate Committee states:
The Committee also recognizes that many Tribes west of the Mississippi River tend to have reservations that are larger in terms of land mass than those east of the Mississippi River and face challenges including drought. However, the Committee expects that Tribes across the country who have resource challenges receive appropriate funding.
Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The Senate Committee directs:
Within the amounts provided for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, the Committee includes $545,000 for substantially-producing Tribal hatcheries in BIA’s Northwest Region currently not receiving annual BIA hatchery operations funding and it is the Committee’s expectation this funding will be included in the base amount.
TRUST–REAL ESTATE SERVICES
FY 2017 Enacted $123,092,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $112,046,000
FY 2018 House $126,708,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $128,371,000
The Trust–Real Estate Services sub-activities are: Trust Services; Navajo-Hopi Settlement Program; Land Title and Records Offices; Real Estate Services; Land Records Improvement; Environmental Quality; Alaska Native Programs; Rights Protection; and Trust-Real Estate Services Oversight.
The House and the Senate Committee largely rejected the Administration’s proposed cuts, including the Administration’s proposal to zero out funding for the Alaska Native Programs sub-activity and the and Litigation Support/Attorney Fees program element within the Rights Protection sub-activity.
Alaska Native Programs. The Senate Committee not only rejected the Administration’s proposal to zero out the sub-activity, they recommended an increase of $80,000 above FY 2017 “in order to sustain a program level of $450,000 for the certification of historical places and cultural sites, including ANSCA sites.”
Trust-Real Estate Services Oversight. For Central Oversight, the House concurred with the Administration’s proposed $164,000 cut, recommending a total of $3,160,000. For Regional Oversight, the House recommended a $500,000 increase, for a total of $10,977,000
Records and Titles. The House recommended a $500,000 increase to the Land Title and Records Offices sub-activity for a total of: $14,774,000 and a $500,000 increase to the Regional program element within the Land Records Improvement sub-activity for a total of $2,444,000. Regarding title conveyance requests, the House Report directs:
The Committee directs the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to have no outstanding title conveyance requests older than 12 months, including those who have been initially rejected by the Land Titles and Record Offices for insufficient or incorrect documentation in TAAMS, by September, 2018. The Committee expects an update on the status of their outstanding conveyances by September, 2018 and a report on what the BIA will be changing in their operations policy to ensure these backlogs and documentation related rejections do not occur in the future.
Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act. The House Report directs:
The Committee directs the Secretary, or his designee, to work with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe to identify appropriate lands in Clallam County, WA to satisfy the requirements of Sec. 7 of the Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act (P.L. 102–495).
Abandoned Wells. The Senate Committee directs:
A program increase of $3,000,000 has been included for the plugging of abandoned wells not under Bureau of Land Management authority. The Committee directs the Bureau to conduct an inventory of wells for which BIA is responsible to reclaim, including cost estimates, for submission to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of this act.
PUBLIC SAFETY AND JUSTICE
FY 2017 Enacted $385,735,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $349,314,000
FY 2018 House $390,417,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $393,588,000
The Public Safety and Justice sub-activities are: Law Enforcement; Tribal Courts; and Fire Protection.
The House and the Senate Committee rejected all of the Administration’s proposed cuts, including cuts which would have eliminated funding for the Tiwahe Initiative-funded pilot programs focused on reducing recidivism in five targeted Indian communities (funded under the Law Enforcement Special Initiatives program element).
Law Enforcement. The House specified increases above FY 2017 for the following program elements within the Law Enforcement sub-activity for a total of:
• $98,056,000 for Detention/Corrections;
• $11,000,000 for Law Enforcement Special Initiatives (with all of the increase directed towards hiring “additional drug enforcement agents to assist Tribes in the fight against drugs, particularly opioids”); and
• $6,530,000 for Law Enforcement Program Management.
Educational and Health-Related Services for Individuals in Tribal Detention Centers Considered Allowable Costs. The House continued language from the FY 2017 House Report, stating:
For the purpose of addressing the needs of juveniles in custody at Tribal detention centers operated or administered by the BIA, educational and health-related services to juveniles in custody are allowable costs for detention/corrections program funding. Indian Affairs is urged to provide mental health and substance abuse services when needed by juvenile and adult detainees and convicted prisoners.
NAGPRA Implementation. The Senate Committee directs:
Within the funding provided for criminal investigations and police services, $1,000,000 is to be continued for the implementation of Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
Recidivism Initiative. The Senate Committee directs:
The Committee also expects the recidivism initiative administered within the Office of Justice Services to be continued at current levels.
Tribal Courts and Tribal Justice Support in PL 280 States. The Senate Committee states:
The Committee does not accept the proposed decrease for Tribal justice support and restores this amount to ensure $10,000,000 remains available to address the needs of Public Law 83–280 States.
The Committee remains concerned about the Tribal courts needs as identified in the Indian Law and Order Commission’s November 2013 report which notes Federal investment in Tribal justice for Public Law 83–280 States has been more limited than elsewhere in Indian Country. The Committee expects the Bureau to continue to work with Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations to consider options that promote, design, or pilot Tribal court systems for Tribal communities subject to full or partial State jurisdiction under Public Law 83–280.
VAWA Implementation. The Senate Committee directs:
Within the amounts provided, the Committee has also included an additional $2,000,000 for the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act [VAWA] for both training and VAWA specific Tribal court needs.
TLOA Implementation. The Senate Committee urges:
The Committee is concerned the Bureau has not submitted reports required by the Tribal Law and Order Act, Public Law 111–211 on a timely basis. Providing this information would help ensure Tribal governments are receiving funding levels for public safety and justice programs based on need; therefore, the Committee strongly encourages the Bureau submit these reports on time.
Restored Tribes. The Senate Committee directs:
The Committee understands that several Tribes who were terminated and then subsequently restored now face significant challenges in securing law enforcement funding through self-determination contracts. The Bureau is directed to work with affected Tribes to assess their law enforcement needs and submit a report to the Committee within 60 days of enactment of this act that details the amounts necessary to provide sufficient law enforcement capacity for these Tribes.
COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
FY 2017 Enacted $41,844,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $39,464,000
FY 2018 House $45,447,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $44,047,000
The Community and Economic Development sub-activities are: Job Placement and Training; Economic Development; Minerals and Mining; and Community Development Oversight.
The House and the Senate Committee rejected all of the Administration’s proposed cuts.
Continuation of the Tiwahe Initiative. Elements of the Tiwahe Initiative, including Job Placement and Training, are funded under the Community and Economic Development activity. The Senate Committee urges: “Within these amounts, the Committee expects the funding for the Tiwahe initiative will continue at enacted levels.”
Implementation of the NATIVE Act. The House recommended a $3.4 million increase for the Community Development Central Oversight sub-activity “to implement the Native American Tourism Improvement and Visitor Experience Act of 2016 (NATIVE Act), including via cooperative agreements with Tribes or Tribal organizations.” The Senate Committee countered with a recommended $1 million increase to implement the NATIVE Act, explaining, “In addition to the funds provided within the Tribal government program for roads, the Committee has provided an additional $1,000,000 for cooperative agreements to carry out the provisions of the NATIVE Act.”
Minerals and Mining including the Indian Energy Service Center. This sub-activity promotes and provides technical assistance for the development of renewable energy, conventional energy, and mineral resources. It also funds the Indian Energy Service Center, which Congress initially funded in FY 2016. The Center is to be tasked with expediting leasing, permitting, and reporting on conventional and renewable energy on Indian lands. For FY 2017, both the House and Senate report language pushed the Department of Interior to get the Energy Service Center up and running, requesting a report on the status of the Center and directing the Department of Interior to submit a budget request for FY 2018 to fund the next phase of the Center. For FY 2018, the Administration proposed to shield the Minerals and Mining sub-activity from the most onerous cuts, specifically protecting the funding for the Indian Energy Service Center. The House recommended no cuts to Minerals and Mining sub-activity and directed Administration to submit a budget request for FY 2019 for the next phase of the Service Center.
NIOGEMS. The Senate Committee recommended a $1 million increase “for the modernization of oil and gas records including the National Indian Oil and Gas Management System [NIOGEMS]” and requested the following report: “The Committee understands the NIOGEMS has been distributed to some Tribes and regional offices and instructs the Bureau to report back within 120 days of enactment of this act on the cost to further expand this system to more reservations and offices.”
GAO High Risk Report. The Senate Committee made the following request:
The recent GAO high-risk report found the Bureau does not properly manage Indian energy resources held in trust and thereby limits opportunities for Tribes and their members to use those resources to create economic benefits in their communities. The Committee requests the Bureau work to make the necessary changes recommended by the GAO report and report back to the Committee outlining any barriers, statutory or regulatory, that prohibits or slows the pace of resource development as well as a status update on the open items that still need to be implemented according to the GAO report.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTION AND ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES
FY 2017 Enacted $228,824,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $215,592,000
FY 2018 House $223,947,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $229,506,000
The Executive Direction and Administrative Services sub-activities are: Assistant Secretary Support; Executive Direction; Administrative Services; Safety and Risk Management; Information Resources Technology; Human Capital Management; Facilities Management; Intra-Governmental Payments; and Rentals.
The House and the Senate Committee rejected the majority of the Administration’s proposed cuts. These cuts had largely been proposed in the form of staffing cuts—73 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions to be precise.
Health and Safety Inspections of BIE Schools. The House Report directs:
Indian Affairs is directed to complete annual health and safety inspections of all BIE system facilities, and to submit quarterly updates on the status of such inspections to the Committee. The Committee is deeply disappointed by continued GAO reports of shortcomings and delays in school safety inspections and repairs. Self-determination does not absolve the Federal government of the responsibility to inspect and repair buildings it owns. The Bureau is urged to exercise its authority to reassume the operation of federally-owned but tribally-operated schools when necessary.
Operating and Law Enforcement Needs for Treaty Fishing Sites on the Columbia River. The Senate Committee directs:
The Committee notes that the Bureau has not yet complied with the fiscal year 2017 directive to provide a report on funding requirements associated with operating and law enforcement needs for congressionally authorized treaty fishing sites on the Columbia River. The Bureau is directed to transmit the report no later than 30 days following enactment of this act. The Bureau is also urged to incorporate unfunded needs for these sites as part of the Bureau’s fiscal year 2019 budget.
BUREAU OF INDIAN EDUCATION
FY 2017 Enacted $891,513,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $786,372,000
FY 2018 House $901,912,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $888,856,000
The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) category displays funds for the BIE-funded elementary and secondary school systems as well as other education programs including higher education and scholarships. The Bureau of Indian Education sub-activities are: Elementary and Secondary Programs (Forward Funded); Elementary and Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded); Post Secondary Programs (Forward Funded); Post Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded); and Education Management.
The House and the Senate Committee rejected the Administration’s proposal to dramatically cut the BIE’s budget. Further, both Chambers specified that: (1) Tribal Grant Support Costs will continue to be fully funded, and (2) a one-time increase is provided to ensure that all remaining tribal colleges and universities (including those operated by the BIE) who are not currently on a forward funded cycle can transition to it.
Implementation of the BIE Transformation and GAO Recommendations.
The Administration describes the status of the BIE transformation as follows:
The BIE is currently in the process of reorganizing. Phase I involved the realignment of the internal organization of BIE from a regional basis to a structure based on the types of schools serviced; namely, (1) schools in the Navajo Nation, (2) tribally-controlled schools, and (3) BIE-operated schools. Phase I also replaced the Education Line Offices with Education Resource Centers (ERCs) which will house School Solutions Teams. The BIE began implementing Phase I of the reorganization in early 2016 after Congress issued a “notice of no objection” to the BIE. Phase II, to be implemented in 2017, involves a realignment of support operations within Indian Affairs including, contracting, IT, and facilities functions to BIE and includes an expansion of the School Support Solutions Teams to include school operations staff. (FY 2018 Indian Affairs Budget Justification, p. IA-BIE-10)
The House Report provides the following direction:
Indian education remains among the Committee’s top priorities because it is a fundamental trust responsibility and because elementary and secondary students in particular have fallen far behind their peers for reasons now well documented by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Education, and others. The BIE system is undergoing a major transformation in direct response to these reports, in order to meet the changing needs of schools now that most schools are tribally-run, and in order to improve accountability. With the concurrence of elected Tribal leaders and major interTribal organizations, the Committee continues to support this transformation. All of the education-related responsibilities under Indian Affairs, including procurement, human resources, budget and finance, and BIE facilities operations, maintenance, and inspections, should be consolidated under the BIE, which should be led by an experienced and proven superintendent selected from a pool of qualified candidates inside and outside the BIE system.
The Committee remains concerned about recent GAO reports detailing problems within the K–12 Indian education system at the Department of the Interior, in particular as they pertain to organizational structure, accountability, finance, health and safety, and ultimately student performance. As the Department takes steps to reform the system, the Secretary is reminded that future support from Congress will continue to be based in large part upon successful implementation of GAO report recommendations. In particular, consistent with GAO report 13–774, the Secretary is urged to reorganize Indian Affairs so that control and accountability of the BIE system is consolidated within the BIE, to present such reorganization proposal in the fiscal year 2019 budget request, and to submit to the Committees on Appropriations a corresponding updated workforce plan. Consistent with GAO testimonies 15–389T, 15–539T, 15–597T, and any subsequent reports, the Secretary is urged to personally oversee immediate actions necessary to ensure the continued health and safety of students and employees at BIE schools and facilities.
The Senate Committee’s Explanatory Statement concurs, raises concerns, and requests information:
The Committee fully supports making much needed reforms to the Bureau of Indian Education [BIE] in order to improve the quality of education offered to address the performance gap of student’s education at BIE-funded schools. The first phase of the current reform effort was approved in 2015; however, the Committee has not received any updated information on the next phase nor has the Bureau complied with Committee directives to report on the status of multiple programs as part of the fiscal year 2017 appropriations process.
Over the past 3 years, the GAO has issued several reports (GAO–13–774, GAO–15–121, GAO–17–447, GAO–17–421, and GAO–16–313) outlining management challenges at the Bureau and there are still outstanding open recommendations to address as well as additional issues outlined in the high risk report (GAO–17–317). The Committee is fully supportive of efforts to reform and better the system, but concerns about how the Bureau manages funding, tracks school conditions, and manages the overall school system remain. The Committee stands ready to work with the administration on the appropriate steps forward and directs the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to report back within 60 days of enactment of this act on the progress made towards implementing all the GAO recommendations and the current status of the reform effort.
Inter-Agency Coordination to Serve Native Children. The House Report urges the BIE is to coordinate with the Indian Health Service to integrate preventive dental care and mental health care at schools within the BIE system, while the Senate Committee’s Explanatory Statement concurs and takes this several steps further:
The administrations emphasis on education must be complemented by efforts to improve interagency coordination for the multiplicity of programs that affect the wellbeing of Native children. In addition to education, these include healthcare, social service, child welfare and juvenile justice programs. The Committee encourages the Bureau to work with other relevant Federal, State, local, and Tribal organizations to begin the process of identifying ways to make programs more effective in serving Native Children.
The Bureau, working with the Indian Health Service as appropriate, is also urged to consider integrating school-based preventative health services such as dental care into elementary schools in order to improve health outcomes of Tribal students.
Limitations on New Schools and the Expansion of Grades, Charter Schools, Satellite Locations and BIE-funded Schools in Alaska. The Administration requested the continuation of this language from prior years. The House and the Senate provided it with one exception: the House proposed one change: modifying the restriction on BIE funds being used to support expanded grades for any school or dormitory beyond its current grade structure. Currently, the law allows for this restriction to be waived only under certain defined conditions and only for one additional grade to be added. The House proposed to continue these conditions but delete the provision restricting any such expansion to one additional grade.
The House Report explains this proposed change and also clarifies how the restrictions on charter schools and satellite locations should be interpreted:
The recommendation modifies bill language limiting the expansion of grades and schools in the BIE system, including charter schools. The intent of the language is to prevent already limited funds from being spread further to additional schools and grades. The intent is not to limit Tribal flexibility at existing schools. Nothing in the bill is intended to prohibit a Tribe from converting a tribally-controlled school already in the BIE system to a charter school in accordance with State and Federal law. The modification removes the grade expansion limitation of one grade.
The recommendation continues bill language providing the Secretary with the authority to approve satellite locations of existing BIE schools if a Tribe can demonstrate that the establishment of such locations would provide comparable levels of education as are being offered at such existing BIE schools, and would not significantly increase costs to the Federal government. The intent is for this authority to be exercised only in extraordinary circumstances to provide Tribes with additional flexibility regarding where students are educated without compromising how they are educated, and to significantly reduce the hardship and expense of transporting students over long distances, all without unduly increasing costs that would otherwise unfairly come at the expense of other schools in the BIE system.
Elementary and Secondary Programs (Forward Funded)
FY 2017 Enacted $575,155,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $520,044,000
FY 2018 House $578,374,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $567,495,000
The Elementary and Secondary forward funded sub-activity includes the following program elements: ISEP Formula Funding; ISEP Program Adjustments; Education Program Enhancements; Tribal Education Departments; Student Transportation; Early Childhood Development; and Tribal Grant Support Costs (formerly titled Administrative Cost Grants). Funds appropriated for FY 2018 for these programs will become available for obligation on July 1, 2018, for SY 2018-2019.
By and large the House and the Senate Committee rejected the Administration’s requests to deeply cut forward funded Elementary and Secondary Programs. Further, both Chambers recommended a more than $2 million increase for ISEP Formula Funds a slight increase for Student Transportation and full funding for Tribal Grant Support Costs.
Support for Native Languages Included in Funding Recommendations for ISEP and Education Program Enhancements. In FY 2017, Congress increased funding for Education Program Enhancements in order to support efforts to revitalize and maintain Native languages and expand the use of language immersion programs. For FY 2018, the House and the Senate Committee rejected the Administration’s request to cut this program element by more than 50 percent. Further, the House and Senate Committee specify that $2 million of the Education Program Enhancements funding is to be used for Native language immersion capacity building grants:
The House Report affirms the importance of Native languages and requests the following report:
The Committee supports efforts to revitalize and maintain Native languages and expand the use of language immersion programs and has provided $2,000,000 within education program enhancements for capacity building grants for Bureau and tribally operated schools to expand existing language immersion programs or to create new programs. Prior to distributing these funds, the Bureau shall coordinate with the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that Bureau investments compliment, but do not duplicate, existing language immersion programs. The Bureau is also directed to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations within 180 days of enactment of this Act regarding the distribution of these funds and the status of Native language classes and immersion programs offered at Bureau-funded schools.
The Senate Committee Explanatory Statement concurs and requests the following reports:
Within the funds provided for education program enhancements, $2,000,000 is directed to continue native language immersion grants. The Bureau is expected to report within 60 days of enactment of this act regarding the status of fiscal year 2017 funds and the planned distribution of funds in this act.
The Committee fully supports broadening access to Native language and culture programs, which have been linked to higher academic achievement for Native youth. The Committee expects the ISEP program should continue to enhance access to Native language and culture programs in BIE-funded schools and directs the Bureau to report within 60 days of enactment of this act on how previous funding provided has been and can continue to be used to support these programs.
Student Transportation. Both the House and Senate Committee recommend a modest increase for this program element. The Senate Committee Explanatory Statement also requests the following report:
The Committee is concerned by the recent Government Accountability Office report (GAO–17–423) on Tribal transportation, which identified potential negative impacts of road conditions on Native student school attendance. The Committee recommends BIE take steps to improve its data collection on the cause of student absences, including data on road and weather conditions, and to report back to the Committee within 120 days of enactment of this act regarding its actions to improve student absence data tracking and analysis.
Funding Cut Proposed for Early Childhood and Family Development Program (“FACE”). In a rare instance, the Senate Committee disagreed with the House and supported the Trump Administration’s request to cut $10.7 million from the FACE program, explaining:
For the Early Childhood and Family Development Program, the Committee expects the Bureau to utilize prior year unobligated funds to support the Family and Child Education [FACE] programs. The Committee continues to support these types of programs and the program decrease as shown in the table is not a reflection of the program’s goals, but of the accrued balance from previous years that should be spent as expeditiously, efficiently, and as soon as possible. Amounts provided are sufficient to fund all currently operating FACE programs at their fiscal year 2017 levels.
Full Funding for Tribal Grant Support Costs. Because the Administration’s FY 2018 budget request was written before the final FY 2017 Omnibus was enacted, the Administration used FY 2016 numbers as the budget baseline to compare with their FY 2018 request. By this accounting, the $74.3 million requested by the Administration for Tribal Grant Support Costs in FY 2018 was described as an “increase”. This, however, failed to account for the fact that in FY 2017 after conferring with the BIE, Congress ultimately provided an increase for Tribal Grant Support Costs in order to ensure full funding for all tribally-controlled schools. For FY 2018, the House and the Senate Committee estimate that the $80.1 million they recommend will provide full funding.
Elementary and Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded)
FY 2017 Enacted $140,540,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $123,871,000
FY 2018 House $141,438,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $141,563,000
The Elementary and Secondary non-forward funded sub-activity includes the following program elements: Facilities Operations; Facilities Maintenance; Juvenile Detention Center Grants; and Johnson-O’Malley Assistance Grants.
The House and the Senate Committee rejected the Administration’s request to cut $16.6 million from all of the non-forward funded Elementary and Secondary programs, including the request to zero out the funding for Juvenile Detention Center Grants. In FY 2016, Congress initiated this grant program to meet the education and health related needs of Native youth detained or incarcerated in currently operating, BIA-funded, juvenile detention centers for an extended period of time.
Johnson-O’Malley Assistance Grants. The House and the Senate Committee both rejected the Administration’s proposed cuts to the Johnson O’Malley (JOM) program but expressed continued concerns about the distribution of funds.
The House Report states:
The Committee remains concerned that the distribution of funds is not an accurate reflection of the distribution of students. The Bureau is reminded of the reporting requirement contained in the explanatory statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017.
The Senate Committee also requests the following report:
The Committee remains concerned about the distribution methodology of the Johnson O’Malley [JOM] assistance grants and requests the Bureau report back to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of this act on the status of updating the JOM counts and the methodology used to determine the new counts. The Committee would like the Bureau to include what, if any, barriers there are to providing updates to the JOM count.
Post Secondary Programs (Forward Funded)
FY 2017 Enacted $77,207,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $72,689,000
FY 2018 House $84,196,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $89,142,000
This sub-activity includes forward funded Tribal Colleges and Universities and forward funded Tribal Technical Colleges (United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) and Navajo Technical University (NTU)).
The House and the Senate Committee recommended level funding ($69.7 million) for the Tribal Colleges and Universities sub-activity. The House recommended a total of $14.4 million for the Tribal Technical Colleges sub-activity, specifying that this total reflects the $6.9 million internal transfer requested by the Administration from the non-forwarded funded Tribal Technical Colleges line item to the forward funded Tribal Technical Colleges line item. Discounting the $6.9 million transfer, the House and the Senate Committee recommendation for Tribal Technical Colleges is $7.5 million, the same as the FY 2017 level.
Forward Funding for Haskell and SIPI. In FY 2017, Congress “encouraged” the Administration to request forward funding for the BIE-run Haskell Indian Nations University (Haskell) and the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) in future budget requests “so that all tribal colleges are on the same funding schedule.” Haskell and SIPI are the final two non-forward funded colleges. For FY 2018, the Administration declined to request the one-time funding needed to put them on a forward funded schedule. Despite this, both the House and the Senate Committee have included it.
The Senate Committee’s Explanatory Statement directs:
The Committee strongly supports the work that Tribal colleges and universities do to provide high quality, affordable higher education opportunities to Native students. The Committees provided sufficient funding to forward fund Tribal Technical Colleges in fiscal year 2017 and continues to believe there should be parity in the way that all Tribal colleges receive assistance and are funded.
Therefore, the Committee includes $11,844,000 toward the forward funding of Haskell Indian Nations University and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute [SIPI] and directs the Bureau report back in 30 days of enactment of this act on a phased approach with funding levels in order to accomplish the goal of having all colleges on the same funding schedule.
The Committee also recognizes that many Tribal colleges have significant unfunded needs and directs the Bureau to work with Tribal leaders and other stakeholders to develop a consistent methodology for determining Tribal college operating needs to inform future budget requests. The Committee expects the methodology to address operating and infrastructure needs including classrooms andIhousing.
Post Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded)
FY 2017 Enacted $63,561,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $45,721,000
FY 2018 House $62,650,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $64,171,000
The two post-secondary schools overseen by the BIE are: Haskell SIPI. The non-forward funded Post Secondary Programs sub-activity also includes: Tribal Colleges and Universities Supplements; Tribal Technical Colleges; Scholarships and Adult Education; Special Higher Education Scholarships; and the Science Post Graduate Scholarship Fund.
The House and the Senate Committee rejected the Administration’s proposal to cut $11 million from non-forward funded Post Secondary programs, including the proposal to zero out Special Higher Education Scholarships and the Science Post Graduate Scholarship Fund and cut $2.7 million from Haskell and SIPI
FY 2017 Enacted $35,050,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $24,047,000
FY 2018 House $35,254,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $26,485,000
The Education Management sub-activity consists of Education Program Management and Information Technology.
While broadband deployment to BIE schools remains a stated priority, the House and the Senate Committee disagree over the Administration’s request to cut $11 million from Education Management.
High-Speed Internet Access for Schools.
The Administration described the status of providing all BIE-funded schools with adequate internet access:
The BIE is committed to supporting its educators by expanding the access of BIE-funded schools to adequate bandwidth. To this end the BIE has actively sought working partnerships with Federal, state, tribal, and private agencies. Over the course of the last year, BIE has worked in close conjunction with the Federal Communications Commission with regard to the E-rate program. Specifically, the BIE increased the bandwidth of 28 of its schools to 10 Mbps per 100 students. The ultimate goal of BIE is to increase the bandwidth of all of its schools to the State Education Technology Directors Association’s (SETDA) standard of 100Mbps per school of 1,000 students. In addition, BIE ordered 77 circuits for its schools with another 71 upgraded circuits also being ordered. Once completed 81 percent of BIE-funded schools will meet the 100 Mbps per 1,000 student school standard. The BIE plans build upon its successes over the past year by continuing to seek out working partnerships with the goal of meeting SETDA minimum standards at all BIE-funded schools. (FY 2018 Indian Affairs Budget Justification, p. IA-BIE-29)
The House Report explains:
Without question, high-speed internet access is essential for student success and economic development in modern society. However, the GAO recently identified Tribal internet access as an area of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication (GAO–16–375SP). Indian Affairs is urged to coordinate with larger, existing broadband access programs funded by the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Senate Committee Explanatory Statement expresses concern about the planning process and requests the following report:
The Committee understands the importance of bringing broadband to reservations and villages, but remains concerned about the planning process used for this type of investment. The Committee directs the agency to report back within 90 days of enactment of this act on a scalable plan to increase bandwidth in schools, procure computers, and software include in this report how the Bureau is working with other Federal agencies to coordinate and plan for the technology buildout.
CONTRACT SUPPORT COSTS
FY 2017 Enacted Such sums as may be necessary
FY 2018 Admin. Request Such sums as may be necessary
FY 2018 House Such sums as may be necessary
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark Such sums as may be necessary
The House and the Senate Committee concurred with the Administration’s request that Contract Support Costs (CSC) continue as a as an indefinite appropriation at “such sums as may be necessary” and that it continue in its own separate account comprised of Contract Support (such sums as may be necessary, estimated to be: $236,600,000) and the Indian Self-Determination Fund ($5,000,000). The lower number reflects an adjustment to the estimated amount. As the Senate Committee’s Explanatory Statement explains:
By retaining an indefinite appropriation for this account, additional funds may be provided by the Bureau if its budget estimate proves to be lower than necessary to meet the legal obligation to pay the full amount due to Tribes. The Committee believes fully funding these costs will ensure that Tribes have the necessary resources they need to deliver program services efficiently and effectively.
General Provisions Continued. The Administration, the House and the Senate Committee requested that the following general provisions be continued:
Contract Support Costs, Prior Year Limitation
Sec. __. Sections 405 and 406 of division F of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235) shall continue in effect in fiscal year 2018.
Contract Support Costs, Fiscal Year 2018 Limitation
Sec. __. Amounts provided by this Act for fiscal year 2018 under headings “Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service, Contract Support Costs” and “Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, Contract Support Costs” are the only amounts available for contract support costs arising out of self-determination or self-governance contracts, grants, compacts, or annual funding agreements for fiscal year 2018 with the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the Indian Health Service: Provided, That such amounts provided by this Act are not available for payment of claims for contract support costs for prior years, or for repayment of payments for settlement or judgments awarding contract support costs for prior years.
FY 2017 Enacted $192,017,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $143,262,000
FY 2018 House $202,213,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $206,024,000
The Construction budget includes: Education Construction; Public Safety and Justice Construction; Resources Management Construction; and Other Program Construction/ General Administration.
The House and the Senate Committee concurred with the Administration’s request for certain changes for fixed costs and related transfers but jointly rejected the Administration’s request to cut $48.7 million from the overall Construction budget (nearly all of which would have come from the Education Construction budget).
FY 2017 Enacted $133,257,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $ 80,187,000
FY 2018 House $138,245,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $136,268,000
The Education Construction sub-activities are: Replacement School Construction; Replacement Facility Construction; Employee Housing Repair; and Facilities Improvement and Repair.
The House and the Senate Committee rejected all of the cuts to Education Construction proposed by the Administration for FY 2018, including the Administration’s request to zero out funding for out both the Replacement School Construction and Replacement Facility Construction sub-activities. The House and the Senate Committee instead recommended level funding for all sub-activities plus an increase for Facilities Improvement and Repair (the House recommends a $5 million increase while the Senate Committee recommends a $2 million increase) These funds would come at a critical time: construction continues for the remaining schools on the 2004 replacement list and planning and design work are moving forward for schools on the 2016 list. According to the FY 2018 Indian Affairs Budget Justification, 70 BIE schools are in “good” condition, while 41 are in “fair” condition and 68 are in “poor” condition. Further, the Justification states that there is currently over $770.4 million in deferred maintenance across BIE-funded school facilities and grounds that needs corrective action.
2016 National Review Committee List and Creation of 2019 List. In FY 2017, Congress directed the Administration to provide a plan to allocate the Replacement School Construction and Replacement Facility Construction funds and to create a 2018 replacement list. It appears that so far, the Administration has declined to do so. The House Report once again directs:
The Bureau is directed to submit an allocation plan to the Committee for campus-wide replacement and facilities replacement within 30 days of enactment of this Act.
The Committee recognizes the School Facilities and Construction Negotiated Rulemaking Committee established under Public Law 107–110 for the equitable distribution of funds. Appropriations in this bill for campus-wide replacement are limited to the 10 schools selected via the rulemaking committee process and published by Indian Affairs on April 5, 2016. The BIE should submit a similar list for facilities with the fiscal year 2019 budget request.
National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education. In FY 2017, Congress urged the Administration to include in its FY 2018 budget request a proposal to reconstitute the National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education. The Administration declined to do so. The House Report once again urges:
The Committee continues to strongly support innovative financing options to supplement annual appropriations and accelerate repair and replacement of Bureau of Indian Education schools, including through the use of construction bonds, tax credits, and grant programs. The Department is urged to revise and resubmit its proposal to reconstitute the National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education, and to include authority for the Fund to facilitate public-private partnership construction projects.
Facilities Improvement and Repair: Safety Inspections, Implementation of GAO Recommendations, Provision of Training, and Long-Term Planning. The Senate Committee directs:
The Committee remains concerned about the deferred maintenance projects at schools and directs the Bureau to submit the allocation plan as required by Public Law 115–31.
The Committee expects the increases provided for the facility improvement and repair program shall be used to address deficiencies identified by annual school safety inspections.
The Committee is encouraged to learn that BIA and BIE continue to work together to ensure annual safety inspections are completed for all BIE school facilities. However, the Committee is concerned that, as recommended by the Government Accountability Office in report GAO–16–313, BIA and BIE have not developed concrete tracking and capacity-building systems to ensure safety issued flagged by these inspections are addressed in a timely manner.
Furthermore, the Committee is concerned by reports from tribally operated BIE schools that BIE does not provide timely access to or training about the Facilities Improvement and Repair Program and other available emergency maintenance funding. The Committee directs BIE and BIA report back within 90 days with a detailed implementation plan to address these remaining concerns.
The Committee understands many schools are in need of repair, improvement, and upgrades in order to bring schools into good condition. The Committee stands ready to work with the administration and Tribes to develop a comprehensive strategy that provides safe, functional, and accessible facilities for schools. The Committee directs the Bureau to report back within 90 days of enactment of this act on the progress the Bureau has made towards implementing a long-term facilities plan similar to the Department of Defense [DoD] process in 2009 as encouraged in the joint explanatory statement accompanied by Public Law 114–113.
PUBLIC SAFETY & JUSTICE (PS&J) CONSTRUCTION
FY 2017 Enacted $11,306,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $10,416,000
FY 2018 House $11,309,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $13,309,000
The Public Safety & Justice Construction sub-activities are: Facilities Replacement/New Construction; Employee Housing; Facilities Improvement and Repair; Fire Safety Coordination; and Fire Protection.
Facilities Improvement and Repair. The Senate Committee surpassed the House’s recommendation and suggested a $2 million program increase for this sub-activity.
Joint Venture Demonstration Program. In FY 2017, Congress encouraged the Administration to include in its FY 2018 budget request a legislative proposal for a joint venture demonstration program for regional justice centers. The Administration declined to do so. For FY 2018, the House Committee once again made this request, stating:
The Committee is concerned that Indian Affairs’ focus on alternatives to incarceration has come at a cost to justice facilities construction. Indian Affairs, in coordination with the Department of Justice, is therefore urged to consider including with its fiscal year 2019 budget a legislative proposal for a joint venture demonstration program for regional justice centers, similar to the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes’ Justice Center, and modeled after the joint venture program for Indian health facilities.
Radio Tower Dead Zones. The House Report states, “Indian Affairs is urged to improve officer safety by eliminating radio tower communications dead zones.”
RESOURCES MANAGEMENT CONSTRUCTION
FY 2017 Enacted $36,513,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $40,696,000
FY 2018 House $40,696,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $43,080,000
The Resources Management Construction sub-activities are: Irrigation Project Construction; Engineering and Supervision; Survey and Design; Federal Power and Compliance; and Dam Projects.
The House concurred with the overall amount requested by the Administration but provided no further details. The Senate Committee exceeded the Administration’s request, providing the following direction in the Explanatory Statement:
Resources management receives a total of $43,080,000 and includes: $6,181,000 for irrigation projects related to the WIIN Act, $29,740,000 for dam projects and $1,016,000 for survey and design. Proposed reductions within resources management are not accepted.
Irrigation Project Construction. The Administration proposed a $1.5 million increase for the Irrigation Projects-Rehabilitation program element to address critical outstanding maintenance issues at the 17 Indian Irrigation Projects and a $724,000 increase to the Survey and Design program element to fast track the technical modernization studies needed to complete this rehabilitation work.
Dam Projects. The Administration proposed a $2.4 million increase for the Safety of Dams program element to support the award of construction contracts for one or more of the 11 dam safety rehabilitation projects already designed or with expected design completion in FY 2018 and a $1.8 million increase for the Dam Maintenance program element to prioritize deferred maintenance projects at the 138 BIA dams classified as “high hazard.” There is currently an identified deferred maintenance need of $538 million.
The Senate Committee states:
The Committee includes the requested increases for dam safety and is concerned there is an unknown number of dams on reservations that have not received a hazard classification and that the current review process is behind schedule resulting in delays for dams to receive a comprehensive review. The Committee strongly encourages the Bureau to begin the work on the dams and report back to the Committee on the best way to effectively quantify the potential pool of dams on reservations in need of a review and/or classification.
OTHER PROGRAM CONSTRUCTION/ GENERAL ADMINISTRATION
FY 2017 Enacted $10,941,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $11,963,000
FY 2018 House $11,963,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $13,367,000
The Other Program Construction sub-activities are: Telecommunications Improvement and Repair; Facilities/Quarters Improvement and Repair; and Construction Program Management.
The House concurred with the overall amount requested by the Administration but provided no further details. The Senate Committee exceeded the Administration’s request, providing some details on where the increases should be directed.
Telecommunications Improvement and Repair. The Administration proposed a $263,000 increase to support the repair and modernization of BIA telecommunication systems across the regions and agencies. The Senate Committee specifically concurred with the request.
Facilities/Quarters Improvement and Repair. The Administration proposed a $1.7 million increase to fund deferred maintenance projects at BIA Administration facilities. There is approximately $253 million of deferred maintenance.
Construction Program Management. The Senate Committee recommends an additional $400,000 above the Administration’s request for this sub-activity in order to “fully fund” the Ft. Peck water system.
INDIAN LAND AND WATER CLAIMS SETTLEMENTS AND MISCELLANEOUS PAYMENTS TO INDIANS
FY 2017 Enacted $45,045,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $13,999,000
FY 2018 House $55,457,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $45,045,000
For FY 2018, Administration explained, “Funding allocations to enacted settlements in 2018 are contingent on the operating plan developed for FY 2017. The 2017 operating plan was not complete at the time the Budget Justification was written. An updated proposal for 2018 allocations will be provided once the 2017 operating plan is complete.” (FY 2018 Indian Affairs Budget Justification, p. IA-SET-3)
The House responded:
The Committee recommends $55,457,000 for Indian Land and Water Claim Settlements and Miscellaneous Payments to Indians. A detailed table of funding recommendations below the account level is provided at the end of this report [see attachment]. The recommended level enables Indian Affairs to meet statutory deadlines of all authorized settlement agreements to date.
The Senate Committee countered with the following recommendation:
The bill provides a total appropriation of $45,045,000 for the Indian Land and Water Claim Settlements account which is equal to the enacted level. The Committee appreciates the importance of settling the numerous land and water settlements and directs the Department to submit a spending plan to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of this act for how it plans to allocate the funds provided by the bill for the specific settlements detailed in the budget request. The Committee understands that several high priority projects critical to the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project must be funded no later than December 31, 2019 as required by law and expects the operating plan to ensure that the FruitlandCambridge Project and the rehabilitation of the Hogback-Cudei Irrigation Project are appropriately funded and deposits to the Navajo Nation Water Resources Development Trust Fund are made.
INDIAN GUARANTEED LOAN PROGRAM
FY 2017 Enacted $8,757,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $6,692,000
FY 2018 House $9,272,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee Mark $9,272,000
The House Report describes the Indian Guaranteed Loan Program as “the most effective Federal program tailored, dedicated to, and capable of facilitating greater access to private capital for Indian Tribes and Indian-owned economic enterprises.” The House and the Senate Committee rejected the Administration’s request for a $2 million cut.
OTHER RELATED AGENCIES
OFFICE OF NAVAJO-HOPI INDIAN RELOCATION
FY 2017 Enacted $15,431,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $14,970,000
FY 2018 House $15,431,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $14,970,000
The Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation was established by Public Law 93–531. The Office is charged with planning and conducting relocation activities associated with the settlement of land disputes between the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe.
Closure of the Office.
The House Report directs:
The Committee recommends $15,431,000 for the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation (Office), equal to the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. Of this amount, $200,000 shall be transferred to the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior for continued oversight of planning, transition, and closure of the Office.
The Committee has directed the Office to begin to communicate with Congress, the affected Tribes, and the Department of the Interior about what will be required to ensure relocation benefits and necessary support services are provided in accordance with the specifications in Public Law 93–531 and to initiate closure of the Office. The Committee requests continuation of the quarterly reports and a comprehensive plan for closing the Office, as outlined in House Report 114–632. Legal analysis on whether any enacting legislation is required to transfer or maintain any identified functions to another agency or organization should also be included. The Office should be transparent about the path forward and should actively consult with all affected parties and agencies.
The Senate Explanatory Statement directs:
The bill provides $14,970,000 for the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation, a decrease of $461,000 below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.
The Committee again directs the Office of Navajo and Hopi Relocation [OHNIR], in consultation with the Secretary of Interior, to report back to the Committee within 90 days after enactment of this act detailing the functions of the OHNIR that could be transferred to the Department of Interior. It is the Committee’s expectation this report include any costs associated with a potential transfer and any costs to maintain ongoing activities of the OHNIR. This report should also include a legal analysis examining whether any potential office closure would require enacting legislation to transfer or maintain any identified functions to another agency or organization.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
TRIBAL HISTORIC PRESERVATION
FY 2017 Enacted $10,485,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $ 8,996,000
FY 2018 House $ 9,485,000
FY 2018 Senate Committee Mark $10,485,000
The House proposed to restore a portion of the Administration’s requested cut while the Senate Committee rejected the proposed cut wholesale. In its FY 2018 Budget Justification, the Administration explained, “The proposed reduction would impact the tribes’ capacity to conduct cultural and historic preservation activities and to participate in required consultation on federally-funded projects that impact tribal land or any historic property to which a tribe attaches religious or cultural significance.” (FY 2018 National Park Service Budget Justification, p. 31)
NATIONAL RECREATION AND PRESERVATION
National Recreation and Preservation is found under a different part of the National Park Service budget than Historic Preservation. Under National Recreation and Preservation the Senate Committee proposed an increase for the Cultural Programs sub-activity, in order to support programs for Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native culture and arts development:
Cultural Programs.—The Committee recommends $25,062,000 for cultural programs, an increase of $500,000 above the enacted level. The increase above the enacted level is provided pursuant to 20 U.S.C. 4451(b) for grants to nonprofit organizations or institutions for the purpose of supporting programs for Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native culture and arts development. The Committee directs the Department to consider funding the establishment of the Northwest Coast arts program as outlined by the memorandum of agreement between the Institute of American Indian Arts and the Sealaska Heritage Institute. This program is a good example of a multi-state, multi-organizational collaboration as envisioned under the American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Culture and Art Development Act.
If we may provide additional information or assistance regarding FY 2017 INDIAN AFFAIRS, OTHER RELATED AGENCIES, or NATIONAL PARK SERVICE appropriations, please contact us at the information below.