Audits Show Tribes Mishandled Funds, Then Unpunished

Oct 7, 2013

Internal audits show that American Indian tribes have been caught misappropriating tens of millions of taxpayer dollars. But federal authorities do little about it because of a lack of oversight, resources or political will.

An Associated Press review of summaries of audits shows that serious concerns were consistently raised regarding 124 of 551 tribal governments, schools or housing authorities that received substantial federal dollars since 1997.

The documents review shows that tribes are five times as likely as other recipients of federal funds to have "material weaknesses" that create an opportunity for abuses.

Agencies often cannot legally cut funding because of treaties, Supreme Court decisions and acts of Congress, and frequently refuse to take control of failing programs.

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