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leaves us unclear as to what the actual need is. Right now, for example, we have established a preference for on-reservation applicants, on- or near-reservations. After a tribe has served all the on and near reservation applicants, then they can look to students who are members of their tribe who live in other communities.

Again, where do we stop? What is the programmatic objective? Are we only trying to serve the on- or near-reservation students? If so, I think we can take a pretty good stab at saying, "Here's how much more we need in order to accomplish the objectives."

Another issue is how much support we are looking to give them. We can tell you that the average grant is about $3,000 per year. Is that enough? It depends. It depends on whether we are supposed to be the last resort for these students, whether they are expected to first exhaust all scholarships available from the school, then the Pell Grants, the other Federal student loans that are available, and then and only then come to the BIA. So we need to know where is it that the Congress wishes our assistance to fall. Should it be the first resort or the last?

Those are the sorts of challenges that are presented just in the BIA programs. Now, when you expand to the entirety of the executive branch, all the various programs for which tribes and individual Indians are eligible, we have identified several hundred-I think over 300-different programs for which tribes can apply, and over 500 programs for which individual Indians are eligible. Again, to try to calculate, one, what is the programmatic objective, and two, what is the shortfall as to each of these several hundred programs, is a virtual impossibility and one that we don't wish to undertake just because the prospects for failure are overwhelming, that we would not be able to accomplish that.

Having said all that, we do think that this is an important conversation to have, and that the goal of establishing these programmatic objectives is absolutely essential. Future Assistant Secretaries will be coming to the Congress and asking for additional funds to meet this need or that. The Congress has to have some confidence that our definition of need is a meaningful one.

Now, we are making progress in some of these areas. For example, we keep systematic track of the amount of needed facilities improvement and repair in our BIA school system. We know with some precision what the backlog in construction is. We are in the midst right now, pursuant to the Judge's order in Cobell, of identifying again, with precision-the number of personnel that we need in order to adequately carry out the trust services program operated by both the BIA and the Office of Trust Funds Management.

We will continue to develop that information, present it to this committee and to the Appropriations Committee, and say, "Here's what we need, here's where we are, here's what the shortfall is."

To expand that effort to all of our programs, though, I think is just an overwhelming undertaking. A few years ago, during the Joint Tribal/DOI Task Force on the Reorganization of the BIA, a subcommittee of that group took on the idea of trying to establish a meaningful and standardized measure of need for just one program, the Indian Child Welfare Act grants. After a couple of years and several hundred pages of reports, they were unable to agree



on a way to measure need in Indian country on these programs. I fear that we would have the same result in several other program areas, were we to try to undertake that.

For that reason, while we are very encouraged and support the committee's effort to begin this process of identifying objectives, and therefore defining the need that exists in Indian country, we are unable to support S. 612 in its current form.

Again, Mr. Chairman, we do support the notion of identifying these objectives. One of the great frustrations for the BIA is that we really are unable to specify what our programmatic objectives are where the Congress has not done so. In the Self-Determination Act, for example, we are prevented from establishing program standards for the tribes. We are told not to make any regulations that don't already exist that impose programmatic standards on the tribes; and therefore, when we go to the tribes and say, "What are your needs" in any given area, we will get 555 different ways of measuring what the need is, because we are unable to impose a consistent standard.

We have to think about how we're going to develop that information. Now, one way that we have been thinking about that I think may hold some promise at least, it ought to be tried out-is to link increases in appropriations and programmatic support to the tribes to a reporting requirement so that when we offer tribes additional money for the programs that they contract for, part of the deal has to be that they are going to report back to us.

We specifically proposed that this year in terms of our scholarship program. It's a relatively small program, or a relatively small increase, $2.2 million, where we think we could get a very accurate feel for how the money is being spent if the tribes are required to tell us how the money is spent.

Remember, one of the issues with TPA is that the tribes are entitled to reprogram those funds without our permission. If we give them additional scholarship money on a formula basis, they are free in most cases to take that money and apply it to their trust programs, to any other social services programs, or even to general tribal overhead: Indirect costs, under current law.

When we come to the Congress and say that we have x million dollars of need in this program area, and ask you for that money, we cannot make you the promise, then, that it will be spent in that area. Therefore both you and we are frustrated that the need will never be met, and that really is a structural issue that we have to think through very carefully.

I do not recommend or support requiring the tribes to submit information, or to amending the Self-Determination Act. I think the Congress is correct in saying that these decisions need to be made at the local level. However, I do think tribes that are willing to step forward and say, "We will bring to you a measure of need that we will agree upon if you, BIA, and the rest of the Federal Government, will then assist us in meeting those agreed-upon needs."

That sort of a program we have undertaken with the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, and it is proving to be a very difficult undertaking because, first, while BIA has some flexibility with its money, it's not a lot. I would have to take TPA funds from

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other tribes in order to apply it to the needs of the Eight Northern Pueblos, and that's not a decision that any of us relishes making. Second, the other agencies generally operate grant programs and, moreover, competitive grant programs, so that if the Eight Northern Pueblos said, "We have this kind of need that would be met by," say, "this program in HUD," there is no guarantee they will get the money from HUD because they are competing with all the other tribes for the HUD grants.

It is very difficult, then, for the executive branch to systematically attack even the identified needs of any tribe or any group of tribes.

I don't mean to paint too dismal a picture, but I do think that the effort that will be required here is a lengthy one, one that we should immediately undertake, but one that could not be done in quite the manner that S. 612 prescribes.

With that, Mr. Chairman, again we thank the committee for dealing with this issue, because it is a difficult one and an extremely important one. We look forward to working with you, and I would be happy to answer any questions the committee may have.

[Prepared statement of Mr. Gover appears in appendix.]

The CHAIRMAN. Okay. Thank you. I appreciate your testimony. I might go back a little bit in time and tell you what started all this. If you look at the fights we had in 1997 and 1998, you know that some of the members of this body want to "redistribute wealth," I guess is the best way of saying it, believing that some tribes have made a lot of money with casinos or whatever, while other tribes are very poor, and we find that the ones that have a lot of money also have the ability to hire some pretty high-powered lobbyists to make sure that they get ongoing TPA, which they don't need nearly as much as some of the very poor tribes. It's a tough thing to deal with.

So there was a movement several times, as you probably know, to put riders on our appropriations bills that would change the formula or do some things that generally we were opposed to that I was opposed to and Senator Inouye was opposed to. A number were opposed to it, and we lost some of those votes, as you probably know. We got beaten pretty good. Clearly, the vote is on our side when we deal with some of these problems, like TPA.

So that's what led to the introduction of the bill in the first place. I believed that we needed a vehicle to start dealing with this thing as an alternative to simply fighting backfires and trying to put out this effort of trying to mandate how much each tribe gets from Congress.

That's where it started. I'm sure you are aware of that.

Mr. GOVER. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. I think if we don't do something-you mentioned that some of the current things you're doing may solve this in time, be less cumbersome in dealing with the mandates of this bill, but I can tell you right now that if we don't do something at the BIA level, we will have to keep fighting the battle here. No question about it. We will have to keep fighting it with some of our colleagues who do not believe as we do.

Mr. GOVER. I understand the motivations behind the bill, and I think you are absolutely right to take on the responsibility for trying to address that issue.

There is no question-and we put this in the TPA report last year-in some respects, the allocation of TPA seems somewhat arbitrary. What we found was that within any given region of the country, that was not so much the case. There might be one or two aberrations in a given region, but generally all the tribes in the region were receiving resources that indicated both the size of the tribe and the size of the reservation. There wasn't a neat mathematical relationship, but there was a general relationship.

The bigger problem is the allocation from region to region. Some regions seem to have prospered over time, and others, not. There are a number of historical reasons for that. For example, for many years, in Oklahoma, especially on the east side of the State, the United States didn't take on much responsibility for the delivery of services there. Later on it was discovered that tribes continued to exist and continued to exercise sovereign powers, so the United States sort of "geared up" to begin providing services in the same fashion, but never at the levels that it was received elsewhere. If you look at per capita expenditures in our Eastern Oklahoma Region, they are a small percentage of our expenditures in several of the other regions. And that is problematic.

Perhaps the way to proceed is for us to begin working sort of program-by-program with the committee and with Indian country and see if we can agree with some programmatic standards. I would prefer, frankly, to be able to create the incentives I talked about for the tribes to begin conducting the kind of reporting that we need. Remember, most of the information on the effect of these programs is in the possession of the tribes, not the BIA, pursuant to the 638 contracts. And we have no authority to make them give it to us, except in the case of trust resources. So if the tribes choose not to cooperate, there is very little we can do about it.

As I said, I don't want us invading the tribes' prerogatives here, but I do think it's fair for the Congress to say, "Look, if you want additional resources from us, you're going to have to tell us how it's being spent."

The CHAIRMAN. We're just now starting with our appropriations process; again, we may be looking at some of the same opponents we've had in the past.

If S. 612 is not the way to go, can you tell me what steps can be taken this fiscal year to get a more scientific and rational basis for funding so that we'll have some kind of a defense if we have to fight the battle on the floor of the Senate again?

Mr. GOVER. We're doing a couple of things, Mr. Chairman, that should be helpful.

First, as I indicated, we should give ourselves a little credit that in some programmatic areas we do have good information; as I said, in the areas of school construction. We are developing similar information in the area of trust services. So we should use that to our advantage and say, "Look, the appropriations that are being requested and is being authorized by the Congress are well below the documented need," and we can be just absolutely certain about it.


Then there is the second category of programs where we don't have good information. Now, what we have done there is ask the National Congress of American Indians to work with us to identify reporting requirements. I think most of the tribes understand that they can't ask us for more money-and we cannot ask you for more money-unless we really have reliable information. So they are starting to come forward and say, "Okay, let's talk about this.'

Now, if we are successful in negotiating with the tribes, it would have to be sort of a model agreement because obviously each tribe has to agree to it. If we're successful in doing that, then I think we have a model that we could use to pursue the incentive program that I described. For a tribe that reports to us in the standardized form, we will then come to the Congress and say, "Here's what this tribe needs," and then the tribe would agree, if they get the additional money, that "we will report to you in the following ways." I think that's really what we're looking for.

The CHAIRMAN. Well, I understand that. The proposal by some of our friends who don't agree with us, they want basically a means testing of tribes, as you know, to establish-well, we have said it ought to be based on needs, not a means testing.

Let me turn to Senator Inouye to see if he has some questions concerning this bill.

Senator INOUYE. Thank you very much.

I am impressed by your report on the number of programs that are available for Indian tribes and individual Indians. I note, for example, that many of the programs are for all Americans, and some are for just Indians.

You have this available, but how many Indians are aware of this? How many tribes are aware of this?

Mr. GOVER. All the tribes get a copy, I believe, of the Catalog of Domestic Federal Assistance; I think that's what it's called. That's available to them, I think, every couple of years. That's always available. It is also available through the various websites.

Senator INOUYE. This is the report that is issued to Indian tribes. A tribe would need a staff of about 50 people, with a full library

Mr. GOVER. That's correct.

Senator INOUYE [continuing]. Because Program No. 15.850DOIhow is a tribe going to find out what that is all about?

Mr. GOVER. It is very difficult, Senator, and that's one of the problems with the entirety of the system. It's a problem that the Congress has taken on in other circumstances. For example, with your bill on the alcohol programs that would consolidate them into a block grant program, that's the kind of legislation that is needed in some of these areas because it is such a maze for the tribes to try to wander through, to get to these programs.

Senator INOUYE. Is there any program that would provide information to Indian tribes and individuals as to programs that may be available, or benefits that may be available? Is there any effort on your part being made toward this end?

Mr. GOVER. Not a systematic effort, Senator. Quite often, when I meet with a tribal leader about a particular need that they have, we will review some resources.

Senator INOUYE. Then what good is this?

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