In June of this year Indian Affairs released its Pandemic Plan, the purpose of which is to protect the health and safety of all Indian Affairs, BIA, and BIE employees while maintaining essential functions and services and supporting federal, state, local, and tribal response to a pandemic.
Over the course of the last year, the BIA comprehensively updated the policies and procedures (1AM Part 90) of the Branch of Wildland Fire Management (BWFM) for wildland fire management, many of which had not been revised for over a decade. The BWFM is responsible for managing and overseeing safe and effective wildland fire protection programs on Indian lands held in trust by the Federal Government.
As mentioned above, Indian Affairs this year finalized two monumental BIE rules: a new system for standards, assessments, and accountability at BIE-operated schools (25 CFR 30) and updates to modernize the JOM Program that provides funding for Indian children attending public schools (25 CFR 273). These rules provide a framework for continued improvements in the education of our children. Indian Affairs also finalized several rules to improve transparency, correct outdated provisions, and further "good governance" principles, including finalizing rules to:
- Delete a burdensome BIA data collection requirement for proposed roads already included on the Tribal Transportation Program (TTP) inventory (25 CFR 170);
- Improve transparency of Courts of Indian Offenses' jurisdictions by providing for updates to the list of Courts 'to be timely posted on BIA's website (25 CFR 11);
- Update office addresses in the CFR (25 CFR 293); and
- Update the minimum standards of character required of Departmental employees and volunteers who have contact with Indian children so that the standards conform to those of the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act (25 CFR 63).
Indian Affairs proposed a regulatory framework for review of requests for acknowledgment of Alaska Native entities as tribes under the Alaska provision of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) (25 CFR 82). Indian Affairs also expects to publish several additional proposed rules to streamline its processing of probates, allow BIE schools to obtain additional funding, and modernize Land Title and Records Office (LTRO) regulations.
Indian Affairs updated the National Policy Memorandum governing use of carryover funds from a previous fiscal year. The memorandum is an important tool for ensuring timely expenditure of funding, both for Indian Affairs operations and to support tribal programs.
In August 2020 Indian Affairs published National Policy Memoranda to support modernization of infrastructure. One memorandum establishes the procedures for the Education Construction Site Assessment and Capital Investment Program. The goal of the Program is to implement a comprehensive approach to assessing the conditions of BIE-funded schools. Under development is a holistic site-by-site solution to provide a safe, secure, health y, operationally modem, and sustainable campus to support BIE' s mission in providing quality education opportunities.
The second National Policy Memorandum establishes the process for executing a facility lease under the authority of the Indian Self-Determination Education and Assistance Act (ISDEAA), 25 U.S.C. § 5324(1). The memorandum is an important step forward for streamlining the processing of 105(1) lease requests from tribes. The memorandum achieves this by clarifying the information tribes must provide to support a lease request and documenting the roles and actions of staff across Indian Affairs to complete and manage 105(1) leases.
Indian Affairs also achieved greater efficiencies and brought more value to Indian Country through improvements in acquisitions. Indian Affairs was able to award over $372M in
acquisitions (31 percent above last year's level) by increasing the use of contracts under efficient smart acquisition vehicles by 61 percent and increased the use of Buy Indian authorities by 67 percent, thereby sending more than $84 million over the previous fiscal year to Indian owned businesses. The total amount awarded to Indian owned business is fiscal year 2020 was over $208 million.