Recently Released Report

Management of Social Services in BIA: Opportunity for Action


The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) provides about $137 million each year for tribal social services programs that allow tribes to administer social services to members. More than half of the $137 million in annual funding is in the form of direct services or through contracts or other agreements and goes toward welfare assistance for almost 2 million individuals in 566 recognized tribes.

OIG reviewed the program to determine if BIA has established well-defined roles and responsibilities for delivering social services programs and if it has effectively communicated them, along with providing adequate support and oversight, to BIA-managed or tribally contracted social services programs. OIG found unclear guidance, performance standards, and roles and responsibilities which undermined fulfillment of duties throughout the Bureau.

We also found inadequate communication among managers, staff, and tribes, which was demonstrated by the absence of clear instructions for data calls, inability to share social service information across all necessary BIA social service channels, and non-responsiveness to welfare assistance applicant funding requests. Such inadequate communication has hindered effective functioning of social services. It also diminished our ability to determine if BIA’s social service program was effectively administered, if cases were adequately managed, if Bureau-level social services data were accurate or reliable, and if tribal members applying for social services were receiving what they needed.

Read the full report here.