BIA told to get organized

  Allocate $10 million to $15 million for new bosses at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the beleaguered agency might get itself back on track, says a new report from the National Academy of Public Administration. The BIA, which represents 1.2 million Indians from 558 tribes, has long been plagued by mismanagement (HCN 4/15/99). BIA head Kevin Gover asked the academy to study the agency's structure and propose some solutions. NAPA's 130-page answer, A Study of Management and Administration: The Bureau of Indian Affairs, says the agency has been unable to "perform basic federal functions of accounting, property management, human resources management, procurement, and information resources management." But the four panel members and 11 researchers who compiled the report say the situation isn't hopeless. As a first step, the BIA needs to create an office devoted to tracking policies, budgets and staff, the report urges. Though both BIA chief Gover and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt agree that numerous budget cuts have contributed to the BIA's current state of disarray, the academy recommends holding off increased funding until the agency can strengthen its management. Gover says he'll try to do that.


The $20 report is available from NAPA Publications at 301/617-7801. The report can also be accessed free at NAPA's Web site, www.napawash.org. - Ali Macalady