Date: Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt signed Secretary’s Order 3384 (Order) establishing the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration (BTFA). The BTFA will report to the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs Tara Katuk Sweeney and assume responsibility for financial operations functions currently performed by the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) effective October 1, 2020.
Currently, OST receipts account for the disbursement of more than $1 billion annually of Trust monies and have more than $5 billion under active day-to-day management and investment on behalf of Tribes and individuals.
“The Trump Administration honors and respects our trust responsibility to Tribes and American Indians,” said Secretary Bernhardt.
The Order is consistent with the Department’s FY 2021 Budget proposal to ensure a smooth transition of important Trust financial operations and other functions which have accrued to OST over time, along with related functions performed by the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations and the Office of Historical Trust Accounting, to the BTFA. No additional changes are proposed, and no employee relocations or loss in positions would occur with this realignment.
The law that created OST, the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act of 1994, envisioned that OST would be terminated after trust reforms had been completed. As the Indian trust management system was gradually reformed, however, it became apparent to Interior that going back to the old way of doing business was unacceptable. Issuance of this Order is a critical step that will institutionalize and make permanent OST’s best practices, improve communication and coordination and enhance Interior’s ability to deliver services to Indian Country.
The mission of the Bureau of Trust Funds Management is to manage the financial assets of trust beneficiaries. This effort is integrally related to Interior’s goal of meeting its responsibilities to American Indians. The BTFA carries out its mission in pursuit of the following vision—We Excel, Native America Prospers.