BILLINGS – The Crow Tribe can’t account for nearly $14.5 million in federal transportation grants from 2016, according to a federal audit released Monday.
The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Interior stated that the tribe failed to file financial reports, track expense reports, provide supporting documents for the contracts or submit a single audit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2016.
The contracts in question total $14.49 million and were part of a Tribal Transportation Agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The program was designed to provide engineering, construction and maintenance for roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure related to tribal needs, according to the audit.
Crow Tribal Chairman A.J. Not Afraid issued a statement early Tuesday. He said the events described in the audit report took place during the tenure of former Chairman Darrin Old Coyote.
Here’s the full statement:
During my tenure as Secretary of the Crow Tribe of Indians, I was charged by then Chairman Darrin Old Coyote to oversee the Tribe’s Finance Department. In 2013, during the course of this oversight, I soon realized that I was prevented from carrying out this oversight due to policies then put into place by the Old Coyote administration. Due to restriction, I was unable to provide oversight of the Transportation program. For this reason, I notified Chairman Old Coyote, in writing, that I was unwilling to accept this responsibility due to the limitations placed upon me.
Upon taking office in December 2016, which was the end of the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2017, I agreed with then Bureau of Indian Affairs Regional Director Darryl LaCounte to an Office of Inspector General facilitated audit of the Tribe’s Transportation program.
In December 2016 when I was inaugurated as Chairman of the Crow Tribe, I vowed to clean-up the mismanagement of grants and programs that has occurred over the last decade. Change takes time, but it continues to be the priority of this Crow Administration to provide a responsive and financially-responsible government to Crow Tribal Members, as well as to the taxpayers of the United States.
According to the audit, the problems occurred when the contractor managing the tribe’s financial department was let go in July 2017 because of a budget shortfall.
Tribal officials then told auditors they discovered the former financial department officials did not know how to properly manage federal contracts, according to the audit.
Old Coyote told The Associated Press that all federal dollars were properly accounted for during his term, which ended when he lost a race to Not Afraid in 2016, and he blamed the former finance department officials referenced in the audit.
The BIA told auditors the tribe is no longer managing Tribal Transportation Agreement dollars and has hired new certified public accountants to comply with federal regulations on tracking the money.
Below is a copy of the full audit: