President’s Proposed $1.9 Billion For Indian Affairs’ FY 2020 Budget Focuses On Programs Serving the Broadest American Indian and Alaska Native Service Population    

Better America?

Published March 12, 2019 

Budget priorities include combating the opioid crisis in Indian Country, law enforcement, resources management, rehabilitation of water infrastructure, and fully funding contract support costs.

WASHINGTON — On Monday President Donald Trump proposed a $1.9 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget for Indian Affairs, which, for this request, includes only the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs.  The Bureau of Indian Education’s (BIE) budget request is presented separately.

The primary mission of Indian Affairs is to honor the nation’s trust, treaty and programmatic responsibilities to American Indians and Alaska Natives, and to improve the quality of life in Indian Country.  These objectives are achieved by recognizing the wide diversity of American Indian and Alaska Native tribes as distinct cultural and governmental entities, strengthening government-to-government relationships, and advancing their self-governance and self-determination.

“President Trump’s FY 2020 budget proposal for Indian Affairs supports his Administration’s commitment to Indian self-determination and tribal self-governance,” said Acting Interior Secretary David L. Bernhardt.  “His budget prioritizes programs serving the broadest tribal service populations reflecting Indian Country’s priorities as expressed by tribal leaders who help guide our budget development process.”

“The President’s Indian Affairs budget for FY 2020 is focused on building tribal economic self-sufficiency through the improved management of tribal trust assets and addressing community needs,” said Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Tara “Katuk” Sweeney.  “The budget proposal supports tribes through funding for law enforcement, improving trust lands and resources management, full funding for estimated contract support costs, fulfilling Indian settlement commitments, and fighting the opioid crisis that plagues Indian Country.”

Indian Affairs programs serve the nation’s 573 federally recognized tribes, a service population of approximately two million American Indians and Alaska Natives in tribal communities nationwide.  The goals and vision reflected in the FY 2020 budget are informed by tribal leaders and the Tribal-Interior Budget Council who helped the Department identify the priorities in this request.

The FY 2020 budget also supports the Administration’s commitment to helping promote tribal nation-building and self-determination, empower tribal communities, foster tribal self-sufficiency, create educational and economic opportunities, ensure safe Indian communities, preserve and foster cultural heritage, and steward natural resources.

Budget Overview:  The President’s FY 2020 budget for Indian Affairs is $1.9 billion in current appropriations.

Indian Affairs programs deliver community services, restore tribal homelands, fulfill federal commitments related to water and other resource rights, execute federal fiduciary trust responsibilities, support the stewardship of tribal energy and other natural resources, and create tribal economic opportunities.

The BIA provides direct services and funding for Public Law 93-638 contracts and Tribal Self-Governance compacts that allow tribal governments to administer Bureau-funded programs in their communities for a wide range of activities necessary for their development.  These programs address tribal government, natural resources management, trust real estate services, law enforcement, economic development, and social service needs.

The FY 2020 Indian Affairs budget prioritizes programs serving the broadest American Indian and Alaska Native service population.  Staffing is estimated at 2,989 current direct full time equivalents in 2020.

Operation of Indian Programs: The FY 2020 budget for the Operation of Indian Programs account is $1.5 billion.  In 2020, priority is given to programs serving tribal communities nationwide rather than initiatives executed through pilot programs or programs that serve fewer tribes.

Promote Tribal Self-Determination – The Department continues to support tribal sovereignty.  The BIA Tribal Government activity supports assistance to American Indian and Alaska Native tribes to strengthen and sustain their governmental systems and support their self-determination through the contracting and compacting processes.

The FY 2020 budget request provides $326 million for programs that support the Tribal Government activity.  Within this amount is included:

·         $178.9 million for compacts for self-governance tribes.

·         $75.3 million to support Consolidated Tribal Government programs, which promote Indian self-determination, giving approximately 275 tribes the flexibility to combine and manage similar or compatible contracted programs and grants while also simplifying the contracting of them.

·         $34.9 million for Road Maintenance to support pavement and gravel maintenance, remedial work on improved earth surface roads, bridge maintenance, and snow and ice control for the BIA’s inventory of nearly 29,000 miles of roads and more than 900 bridges throughout Indian Country.

Protect Indian Country – The BIA’s Office of Justice Services (OJS) funds law enforcement, corrections and court services to support safe tribal communities.  These programs safeguard life and property, enforce laws, maintain justice and order, and provide funding to detain American Indian and Alaska Native offenders in safe, secure and humane environments.

The OJS also provides technical assistance to tribal governments in the amending of their legal codes for consistency with the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and the Violence Against Women Act of 2013.  In addition, the BIA is implementing training for direct services law enforcement program staff in the areas of law enforcement, social services, victim services and courts, and is making this training available to tribes operating these programs under self-determination contracts and self-governance compacts.

The FY 2020 budget request of $409.2 million for the Public Safety and Justice activity includes:

·         $376.7 million to support 191 law enforcement programs and 96 corrections programs operated by tribes and by the BIA as direct services;

·         Includes $10 million to address the opioid crisis, an increase of $2.5 million over the 2019 CR

·         $22.3 million for Tribal Justice Support programs; and

·         $30.9 million for Tribal Courts.

Support Indian Communities – Sustaining families is critical to fostering thriving tribal communities.  The BIA Office of Indian Services supports a community-based approach to Indian child welfare, family stability, and strengthening tribal communities as a whole.

The FY 2020 budget request of $143.0 million for BIA Human Services includes:

·         $74.7 million for Welfare Assistance and

·         $64.9 million for Social Services and Indian Child Welfare Act programs.

Manage Trust Resources and Lands – The BIA Trust-Natural Resources Management activity supports the stewardship of trust lands in Indian Country.  The Bureau’s Natural Resources programs assist tribal governments in the management, development and protection of Indian trust land and natural resources on 56 million surface acres and 58 million acres of subsurface mineral estates.  These programs enable tribal trust landowners to optimize the use and conservation of resources, providing benefits such as revenue, jobs, and the protection of cultural, spiritual and traditional resources.  The BIA also helps support 300 tribes with managing 18.7 million acres of their forest lands.

The FY 2020 budget proposes $184.1 million for natural resource management programs, which include agriculture, forestry, water resources, and fish, wildlife and parks activities.  The request amount includes:

·         $54.8 million for BIA’s Forestry Program and projects  to support the development, maintenance and enhancement of forest resources in accordance with sustained yield principles included in forest management plans;

·         $25.1 million for BIA’s Agriculture and Range Program to continue support for multiple use and sustained yield management on over 46 million acres of Indian trust land dedicated to crop and livestock agriculture;

·         $14.5 million for Fish, Wildlife and Parks; and

·         $10.6 million for Water Resources management activities.

Keep Fiduciary Trust Responsibilities – The Trust-Real Estate Services activity manages Indian trust-related information to optimize the efficacy of Indian trust assets.  The FY 2020 budget supports the processing of Indian trust-related documents such as land title and records as well as geospatial data to support land and water resources use, management of energy resources, and the protection and restoration of ecosystems and important lands.

The FY 2020 budget proposes $122.0 million for real estate services programs, including $12.7 million for probate services to determine ownership of Indian trust assets essential to economic development and accurate payments to Indian trust beneficiaries.

Support Economic Opportunities – The FY 2020 budget requests $44.4 million for the Community and Economic Development activity, and features investments in Indian energy activities.  The request supports the Administration’s priority for domestic energy dominance and economic development, including management of energy resources on tribal lands.

The FY 2020 budget also continues the commitment to the Indian Energy Service Center, which coordinates Indian energy development activities across Interior’s bureaus.  Income from energy and minerals production is the largest source of revenue generated from natural resources on Indian trust lands, with royalty income of $1 billion in 2018 payable to tribal governments and individual mineral rights owners.

Tribal Priority Allocations – The FY 2020 budget proposes Tribal Priority Allocation funding of $658.8 million.

Contract Support Costs:  The President’s FY 2020 budget maintains the Administration’s support for tribal self-determination and strengthening tribal communities across Indian Country.  Contract Support Costs enable tribal governments to assume the responsibility for operating federally funded programs by covering the costs associated with administering such programs.  The request for the Contract Support Costs account is $285.9 million.

The request fully supports estimated needs at the FY 2020 request level.  The budget continues to request funding for Contract Support Costs in a separate indefinite current account to ensure full funding for this priority.

Construction:  The FY 2020 budget request proposes $58.5 million for BIA Construction activities.  The request includes:

·         $19.7 million for Safety of Dams program.  The Safety of Dam program is currently responsible for 138 high or significant-hazard dams located on 42 reservations.

·         $9.9 million for irrigation projects rehabilitation.  The Irrigation Rehabilitation program addresses critical deferred maintenance and construction work on BIA-owned and –operated irrigation facilities, including 17 irrigation projects, with a focus on health and safety.  Many of these facilities are nearing 100 years of age and are in need of major capital improvements.

Land and Water Claims Settlements:  The FY 2020 budget request of $45.6 million for Land and Water Claims Settlements prioritizes funding to meet Indian settlement commitments.  Settlements resolve tribal land and water rights claims and ensure tribes have access to land and water to meet their domestic, economic and cultural needs.  Many of the infrastructure projects supported in these agreements improve the health and well-being of tribal members, preserve existing economies, and over the long term, bring the potential for jobs and economic development.

Fixed Costs:  Fixed costs of $7.2 million are fully funded.

Bureau of Indian Education:  For the first time in its history, the Bureau of Indian Education’s (BIE) budget request is being presented as a separate budget justification starting in FY 2020, when all BIE budget activities are shifted out of the OIP account into a new Operation of Indian Education Programs account.  In addition, the Education Construction budget activity is shifted to a new Education Construction account.  The total amount associated with BIE budget activities in FY 2020 is $936.3 million.

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