Indian Programs: Tribal Priority Allocations Do Not Target the Neediest Tribes: RCED-98-181

July 1998
GAO Reports;7/17/1998, p1
Government Document
Under the current method for distributing Tribal Priority Allocations (TPA) by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), there is no guarantee that the funds are effectively targeting the tribes' most pressing needs. BIA now distributes two-thirds of TPA funds, referred to as "base funds," largely on the basis of historical funding levels. In distributing these funds, BIA does not take into account changing conditions, such as the tribes' levels of need or the tribes' own revenues from nongovernmental sources, such as business income. The remaining one-third of TPA funds, known as "nonbase funds," are used for such activities as road maintenance and housing improvement and are generally distributed on the basis of specific program criteria. BIA's distribution of TPA base funds has been widely criticized for the last 20 years for, among other things, not being responsive to changes in the relative needs of the tribes. Furthermore, because the tribes' own revenues are not considered in the distribution of TPA base funds, the tribes with the highest revenues receive TPA base funds just as the tribes with the lowest revenues do. A decision about whether and in what way to redistribute TPA funds is as complex as it is controversial. As long as BIA continues to distribute TPA base funds on a historical basis, it cannot be certain that the distribution accommodates the changing needs of the tribes.


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