The Bureau of Indian Affairs: FY2021 Appropriations

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July 16, 2020
The Bureau of Indian Affairs: FY2021 Appropriations
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), in the U.S. Department
BIA requested $1,907.9 million in discretionary funding for
of the Interior (DOI), administers programs for tribal
FY2021, a decrease of 6.1% from FY2020. BIA
government, social services, law enforcement,
discretionary appropriations are provided through several
infrastructure, and trust land and natural resources in Indian
accounts. Operation of Indian Programs (OIP) is BIA’s
Country. BIA plays a leading role in carrying out federal
largest account. Other accounts include Contract Support
trust, treaty, and other responsibilities to American Indians,
Costs, Construction, Indian Land and Water Claim
Alaska Natives, and federally recognized tribes.
Settlements and Miscellaneous Payments to Indians, and
the Indian Guaranteed Loan Program. For FY2021, BIA
This In Focus examines BIA’s request for FY2021
proposed a funding decrease for most accounts. Several
discretionary appropriations in comparison with FY2020
tribes addressed sufficiency of funding and priorities for
enacted appropriations, not including enacted supplemental
increased funding in testimony during congressional
appropriations. It does not cover the Bureau of Indian
hearings on FY2021 appropriations.
Education (BIE) or the Indian Health Service. Issues for
Congress include determining the amount of discretionary
Operation of Indian Programs
funding to provide BIA, its distribution across programs
BIA requested $1,446.7 million for OIP for FY2021, a
and activities, and the terms and conditions of such funding.
decrease from $1,577.1 million (8.3%) in FY2020. Table 2
Congress also may consider whether to adopt BIA
shows FY2020 enacted and FY2021 requested
proposals for a new appropriations account and
appropriations for each OIP activity, several of which are
organizational changes, as discussed below.
discussed below. Of the FY2021 OIP total, BIA requested
$625.3 million as tribal priority allocation (TPA) funding.
Discretionary Appropriations Accounts
TPA is a BIA budgetary tool that allows direct involvement
Congress generally provides discretionary appropriations to
by tribes in setting priorities for their operating programs.
BIA in annual appropriations laws for the Department of
TPA includes funds across multiple activities that are part
the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. P.L. 116-
of a “guaranteed” base funding for tribes.
94, Division D, contained $2,032.1 million in discretionary
appropriations for BIA in FY2020 (Table 1). BIA also
Tribal Government. BIA requested $337.4 million for this
received $453.0 million in FY2020 supplemental funding in
activity in FY2021, a $3.2 million (1%) increase over
the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
FY2020 as enacted. This activity assists tribes in
(CARES Act; P.L. 116-136). (For further information, see
strengthening government structures, such as funding for
CRS In Focus IF11500, The CARES Act: Implications for
newly recognized tribes, and supports self-governance
Tribes, by Mainon A. Schwartz.)
through contracting and compacting of federal programs by
tribes under the Indian Self-Determination and Education
Table 1. Bureau of Indian Affairs Discretionary
Assistance Act (ISDEAA; 25 U.S.C. §§5301 et seq). BIA’s
Appropriations by Account (dollars in millions)
request included new tribe funding for the Little Shell Tribe
of Chippewa Indians (federally recognized in 2019). Within
the overall increase, BIA proposed decreases for some
subactivities, including self-governance compacts and road
Operation of Indian Programs
Contract Support Costsa
Human Services. BIA requested $87.5 million in FY2021,
Payment for Tribal Leasesb

a $68.2 million (43.8%) decrease from FY2020 as enacted.
This activity supports social programs, such as Social
Services, Welfare Assistance, and Indian Child Welfare Act
(ICWA) programs. BIA would eliminate funding for the
Housing Improvement Program, decrease Welfare
Loan Program
Assistance funding, and increase funding for ICWA.
Trust-Natural Resources Management. BIA requested
Source: Prepared by CRS with information from the House
$209.7 million in FY2021 for this activity, a $17.1 million
Appropriations Committee.
(7.5%) decrease from FY2020 as enacted. This activity
Because Contract Support Costs are based on such sums as
assists tribes with managing, developing, and protecting
necessary, the value for FY2021 deviates from the value
trust lands and natural resources. BIA requested to decrease
reported in the FY2021 BIA request due to newer information.
funding for most subactivities and to eliminate funding for
b. BIA proposed this as a new account in the FY2021 request.
Cooperative Landscape Conservation. This activity

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included a proposed transfer of the Minerals and Mining
Source: Prepared by CRS with information from the House
sub-activity from the Community and Economic
Appropriations Committee.
Development activity. BIA requested $25.7 million for
Minerals and Mining.
Other Appropriations Accounts
Contract Support Costs (i.e., the costs of tribes
Trust-Real Estate Services. BIA requested $124.2 million
administering federal programs under ISDEAA) would be
in FY2021, a $13.9 million (10.1%) decrease from FY2020
fully funded in FY2021 at $335.0 million under the request.
as enacted. This activity addresses BIA’s responsibilities to
The enacted FY2020 appropriation was $271.0 million, the
tribes in trust services, probate, and land titles and records.
estimate of full funding for that year. For FY2021, BIA
BIA would increase funding for some programs, such as
proposed decreases for other accounts, as shown in Table
Land Title and Records Offices and Real Estate Services,
1. BIA did not propose funding new loan guarantees under
and it would decrease funding for Environmental Quality,
the Indian Guaranteed Loan Program account, because it
Rights Protection, and Alaskan Native Programs. BIA
duplicates, according to BIA, other federal loan programs
would eliminate funding for Litigation Support/Attorneys’
that may serve Indian Country among eligible borrowers.
Fees and Other Indian Rights Protection.
New Appropriations Account
Public Safety and Justice. BIA requested $423.7 million
Upon the request of a tribe or tribal organization, ISDEAA
in FY2021 for this activity, a $10.6 million (2.4%) decrease
requires BIA and BIE to enter into an ISDEAA 105(l) lease
from FY2020 as enacted. This activity funds programs
agreement with the tribe to use tribally owned or rented
covering police services, detention/correctional facilities,
facilities to support contracting or compacting under
and tribal courts. Within the overall decrease, law
ISDEAA. DOI proposed a new appropriations account,
enforcement special initiatives funding would increase to
Payment for Tribal Leases, to pay for both BIA and BIE
$18.0 million in FY2021, or $3.1 million (20.7%) over
leases. BIA’s overall request of $21.6 million included an
FY2020. The increase would support Operation Lady
$8.0 million transfer from BIE’s Elementary and Secondary
Justice, a new initiative proposed by the Administration
Programs Facility Operations sub-activity. DOI proposed
directed at missing and murdered persons, the opioid crisis,
reforming the management of the leases by standardizing
domestic violence, and cold cases in Indian Country,
procedures for processing lease requests. BIA and BIE
focusing on native women.
anticipate increased tribal interest in this initiative.
Community and Economic Development. BIA requested
Proposed Organizational Changes
$27.5 million in FY2021, a $25 million (47.6%) decrease
BIA’s budget request proposed moving the Division of
from FY2020 as enacted. This decrease is in large part due
Energy and Mineral Development from the Office of Indian
to a proposed transfer of Minerals and Mining to the Trust-
Energy and Economic Development within the office of the
Natural Resources activity. This activity seeks to foster job
Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs (AS-IA) to the Office of
placement and economic growth in Indian Country. BIA
Trust Services under BIA. The change is intended to
proposed increasing the economic development program—
increase coordination, communication, and delivery of
from $2.8 million in FY2020 to $10.3 million in FY2021—
energy-related services to Indian Country. The change is
to fund broadband deployment to tribes.
reflected in the proposed transfer of the Minerals and
Mining sub-activity from the Community and Economic
Table 2. Operation of Indian Programs Activities
Development activity to the Trust-Natural Resources
(dollars in millions)
Operation of Indian
BIA’s budget request also proposed to realign the agency’s
Programs Subaccount
organizational structure by moving certain programs within
Tribal Government
the Office of Justice Services from BIA to AS-IA to
increase DOI’s response to public safety in Indian Country
Human Services
and support Administration public safety initiatives. BIA’s
Trust – Natural Resources
budget request states that the current budget structure would
not change and that legislation would be required to make
the change.
Trust – Real Estate Services
Public Safety & Justice
Tana Fitzpatrick, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
Community & Economic
Executive Direction

The Bureau of Indian Affairs: FY2021 Appropriations

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