This report summary is from the Government Accounting Office online database.
PDF version of full-text report available online from GAO . Search for report #GAO/AIMD-96-63 (28 pages).
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The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has spent more than five years and $21 million in a massive effort to locate supporting documentation and reconcile trust fund accounts, but tribal accounts could not be fully reconciled or audited due to missing records and the lack of an audit trail in BIA's systems. Because BIA does not know the universe of transactions or leases, it does not know the total amount of receipts and disbursements that should have been recorded. Indian tribes have raised questions about the adequacy and reliability of the reconciliation results. If follow-up meetings with the tribes do not resolve these concerns, the settlement process that GAO has recommended could be used as a framework for resolving disagreements on account balances. In addition, due to cost considerations and the potential lack of supporting documentation, reconciliations for individual Indian accounts were never done, and no alternative procedures were developed to verify these account balances. Because any attempt to reconcile these accounts would be costly and the results would be limited, these accounts should be included in the settlement process.