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The Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes Improperly Administered Some Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program Funds for Fiscal Years 2011 Through 2015

The Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes (known collectively as the Fort Peck Tribes) are federally recognized Native American tribes located in Montana. For Federal fiscal years (FYs) 2011 through 2015, the Fort Peck Tribes did not administer $436,765 of Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) grant funds in compliance with Federal laws, regulations, and guidance. These errors occurred because the Fort Peck Tribes did not have policies and procedures or other internal controls in place to prevent the errors. The improperly administered LIHEAP grant funds could have been used to provide eligible households additional benefits, or the Fort Peck Tribes could have used them for other purposes such as crisis situations, residential weatherization, or energy-related home repairs.

We recommended that the Fort Peck Tribes refund $436,765 to the Federal Government. We also made procedural recommendations related to the development and implementation of internal controls and policies and procedures. The Fort Peck Tribes focused on our findings rather than our recommendations and described corrective actions that they had taken or planned to take for several of our procedural recommendations. The Fort Peck Tribes disagreed with most of the findings whose associated costs formed the bulk of our recommended refund.

Based on additional documentation that the tribes provided after the issuance of our draft report, we reduced the dollar amount in one finding and reduced our recommended refund to $436,765. Otherwise, though, we maintain that our findings and recommendations, as they appear in this final report, remain valid, and we encourage the tribes to continue to implement corrective actions in response to our procedural recommendations.

Filed under: Indian Health Service