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Has the OST General Fund ever been audited?



The Oglala Sioux Tribe has two basic budgets which are called Indirect Costs budget and the General Fund budget. The Indirect Costs budget is heavily regulated and monitored by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Most of the time the tribal council members won’t even touch the travel line items in that budget mostly because they have to file travel reports and justify their travel expenses. This article is going to address the General Fund budget.

How many readers knew that the General Fund budget never has an annual audit? Annual audits occur at the end of the fiscal or calendar year, but I have never seen a complete audit for the General Fund. Usually the tribe restricts the auditors to review a few Public Law 93-638 programs such as the Road Maintenance Program, Rural Water and just a few others.

The tribe has more than 60 different programs but only audit a few of them. Recall that the tribe was placed on high risk by the Bureau and stayed in that status for many years. Some of the tribal leaders claim that the reason they do not run a complete audit of the General Fund is that the result would prove that they can be placed back into high risk status.

To me, this is just an excuse to hide all of the corruption that is occurring within the tribe concerning its financial statements. I fail to understand how anyone would invest into the tribe knowing that the tribe does not run a complete audit on its General Fund budget. An auditing firm would almost immediately focus on the revenues vs. the expenditures that are always very lopsided. This past year in 2017, the revenues were somewhere around 4 million dollars and the expenditures were somewhere around 12 million dollars. This means the tribe had the opportunity to spend 8 million dollars more than they were generating. It’s the Oglala Sioux Tribal Treasurers responsibility to set the budget and it’s the tribal council’s responsibility to approve of the budget. If I were a council member and the treasurer brought a budget to me that had 8 million dollars more than it was taking in, I would reject it so fast that it would make their heads spin. Send it back and bring a real balanced budget to me and insure that overspending is controlled and audit the entire General Fund budget at the end of the fiscal year. If the tribe’s treasurer had a lick of sense, he should be doing this automatically without any direction on how to do it.

If there is never an annual audit being preformed by Certified Public Accountants, how in the heck are the tribal members supposed to identify the real spending? How are the tribal members supposed to know where the money went and how are we supposed to know exactly how much money is being generated by, for example, the tribal Revenue Department who mostly generates their money from making the Oglala Sioux Tribal members pay sales taxes, tobacco, taxes, cigarette taxes and the like? More importantly, how in the heck are we supposed to know what they do with it?

In the 2017 General Fund budget, there is a line item called “Honorarium.” None of the tribal members and interestingly enough, none of the tribal council members know where the heck all of that money disappeared to. Most of it was converted to purchase tribal flags, blankets for honoring certain individuals, purchasing Indian jewelry and the like.

Usually, when a budget is created they have an accompanying document called the budget justification which outlines all the reasons needed to purchase an item. For example, if a tribal program set their budget to include $5,000.00 in office supplies, they must stipulate which type of office supplies can be purchased in the justification. If the requisition does not comply with the budget justification, the checks and balances should kick in and prohibit the purchase from being made. So, what exactly does the Honorarium line in the General Fund budget allow the tribe to purchase? I think the door is basically wide open in terms of being able to purchase anything they want, including using the honorarium line for more travel expenses.

An audit would identify the discrepancies in all of the General Fund spending and would inform the tribal leaders of unauthorized purchases. So why exactly, does the tribal council not direct the tribal treasurer to contract with Certified Public Accountants to preform an annual audit on the General Fund budget? Does this question raise red flags for the reader? I certainly hope so.

If the tribal leaders will not audit the General Fund, doesn’t that give them the opportunity to hide criminal spending activities? The honorarium line usually has about $500,000.00 reserved in it. In 2017, they spent around $900,000.00. Forgive me for not having the exact numbers at my fingertips but I’m just going to give the reader an example of how much money is being abused in that line item. If the budget is set at 500k and they spent 900k, what authority do they have to overspend? Isn’t the treasurer constitutionally responsible for the tribe’s money? Where did the 400k in over expenditures go? And why is that expenditure not being audited so we can get a real picture of the criminal spending by the treasurer and tribal council?

This stuff is purposely being hidden from the Oyate so the so called leaders can cloak and dagger their criminal spending activities. When the Oyate goes to the tribal building for assistance, they are usually met with resistance and animosity. The tribal building employees forget that they are public servants and have those jobs to serve the Oyate. The Oyate should not be ridiculed by tribal staff when they need assistance. Usually, the Oyate gets turned down quite a bit by a tribal administration who claims they don’t have money to help.

Why don’t they have money to help you ask? It all goes right back to the fact that they do not require an annual audit and the leaders are so busy wrongfully spending tribal money that they leave nothing for the grass roots Oyate who really need the help. Setting a budget at 12 million in spending with only 4 million in revenues equates to runaway spending by this administration and frankly, by almost every administration.

How do we correct that problem as Oyate? Why not get involved in the constitutional reform? Demand that language be voted on concerning annual audits for the General Fund and demand that the results of the audit become public knowledge. This is the only way that the tribal leaders will be forced to comply with the budget. Demand that they include language to vote on during the constitutional reform that sets a debt limit and holds heavy sanctions including jail time for the abusers.

We need to come together to get this thing under control and quit standing idle while the elected leaders continue to spend your money at a criminal rate, stealing, misappropriating, spending enormous amounts of travel, etc., and all the while, being totally unaccountable for all of this corruption.

The OST Revenue Department runs a pay day lending program for all tribal employees. The tribal Credit and Finance Program does the same thing. Why are these two programs not being audited? What is really happening to the money that is being made through tribal pay day lending?

What about all the attorney payments that are being made. The tribal constitution contains language in it at Article IV, Powers of the Council, Section 1, Enumerated Powers, “The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council shall exercise the following powers, subject to any limitations imposed by the statutes or the Constitution of the United States and subject further to all express restrictions upon such powers contained in this constitution and attached by-laws (b); to employ legal council for the protection and advancement of the rights of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and its members.”

The tribal leadership routinely uses the attorneys against you, the Oyate. The constitution indicates that the attorney can be hired only for the protection and advancement of your rights as members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Why are they not hiring attorneys to insure our financial rights are protected from rouge, runaway, spending by the treasurer and tribal leaders? Demand that the General Fund budget receives annual audits and that the abusers go to jail.

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