WASHINGTON, D.C. – Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland announced the publication of updated regulations governing the administrative review process for actions by Indian Affairs officials at the U.S. Department of the Interior. The updates simplify and strengthen regulations that were first established in 1989.
“The updated, plain-language rule brings needed clarity and fairness to the Indian Affairs administrative review process,” said Assistant Secretary Newland. “Regulations that reflect the current Indian Affairs organizational structure will modernize and streamline the process for appealing administrative actions, securing the legally protected interests of Indian tribes and individuals and other interested parties.”
This regulation provides the process for administratively appealing any discrete, written decision made by an Indian Affairs official that adversely affects legally protected interests of an Indian tribe or individual or other interested party.
For the first time, the regulations provide holders of trust accounts a mechanism for disputing the accuracy of statements of performance issued by the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration, upholding the Department’s trust responsibility to manage Indian trust assets with integrity.
The renewed rule also offers direction for alternative dispute resolution through the Department’s Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution.
The final rule provides that the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs has the authority to issue a final agency decision, which can be reviewed on appeal by the Assistant Secretary. This will allow for faster decision-making and review. The final rule also allows for the filing of appeal documents by email when possible and clarifies the processes when the Assistant Secretary takes jurisdiction of an appeal to the Interior Board of Indian Appeals, and for appealing inaction of an official.
The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs advises the Secretary of the Interior on Indian Affairs policy issues; communicates policy to and oversees the programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, and the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration; provides leadership in consultations with tribes; and serves as the DOI official for intra- and inter-departmental coordination and liaison within the Executive Branch on matters concerning American Indians and Alaska Natives and the federally recognized tribes in the United States.