The Department of the Interior’s Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) budget request for fiscal year 2009 is $181.6 million, a reduction of $7.7 million compared to FY 2008 enacted funding due to the completion of some trust reform efforts, elimination of the Indian Land Consolidation Program, and management efficiencies.
The OST provides fiduciary guidance, management, and leadership for both tribal trust accounts and Individual Indian Money accounts. The OST oversees and coordinates the Department’s efforts to establish consistent policies, procedures, systems, and practices throughout Interior for the Indian fiduciary trust. The OST has operational responsibility for financial trust fund management, including investment, receipt, and disbursement of Indian trust funds, and for real estate appraisals on Indian trust lands.
The proposed budget includes increased funding for several key programs, including an increase of $1.7 million to address the Office of Hearings and Appeals probate backlog and $815,000 for Office of Trust Services.
Decreases in the budget request include reductions of $3.3 million as a result of the completion of trust reform and project task efforts. The budget also includes a $530,000 reduction in travel and relocation expenses, as part of a Department-wide travel reduction. OST will focus on travel by only essential personnel to events that support goals and objectives identified in the Comprehensive Trust Model (CTM) plan. Attendance via teleconferences and other communications technology will also be utilized when appropriate.
This budget request does not include funding for the Indian Land Consolidation program. This program did not provide a cost effective solution to the critical issue of fractionation. The Department remains committed to finding a solution for Indian land consolidation. A working group is being formed to explore an alternative strategy that will be beneficial to both individual Indian land owners and tribes.
Visit the OST website at www.doi.gov/ost to view the fiscal year 2009 budget request.