The Crow Tribe Fired An Accountant And Lost Track Of $14 Million Federal Funds

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An American Indian tribe could not account for $14 million of U.S. taxpayer funding intended for road projects, according to an audit by the inspector general.

The Crow Tribe of Montana was classified as “high risk” by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for failing to properly document millions of dollars received from the government under the Tribal Transportation Program (TTP), government auditors said in a report released Monday.

“We could not perform the audit because the contractor and the BIA could not provide the necessary documentation for its contract or claim,” the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of the Interior (DOI) said.

The tribe did not submit financial reports on time, and some of the reports were off by millions of dollars, the OIG stated. Some reports were not submitted at all. The tribe claimed it spent a total of $14,492,813 on road construction and repairs, but didn’t detail the individual expenditures in any submitted reports or ledgers.

The lack of a trustworthy accounting system in the tribe was evident in the inconsistencies of the tribe’s responses to the OIG. After claiming to spend the $14 million, the Crow Tribe returned a general ledger that said it spent $10,813,971.

“These issues demonstrated that the Tribe did not have the necessary internal controls to properly report expenses and reconcile its records,” the OIG auditors wrote. “We conclude that the Tribe’s accounting system is inadequate to handle Federal funds.”

The tribe said the inaccuracies were due to turnover within its finance department.

“[The] the Tribe had to hire a new finance department to help manage its Federal agreements and the accounting records,” the OIG stated, because the “old contractor did not know how to manage Federal agreements and the accounting records associated with the agreements.” (RELATED: Three American Indian Tribes Investigated For Stealing Federal Grant Money)

The Crow Tribe did not return The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment, and the BIA did not respond to requests in time for publication either.

The DOI entered into an agreement with the Crow Tribe for TTP funding in 2011. The TTP provides funding for 567 federally recognized tribes, and in 2016, the most recent year for which the BIA has released a report, the government disbursed $267 million.

The tribe has 11 uncompleted road projects and one uncompleted bridge project as of 2016, according to reports from the Office of Federal Lands Highways.

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