[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 215 (Wednesday, November 8, 2017)]
[Pages 51860-51861]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-24319]



Office of the Secretary


Tribal Consultation on Indian Trust Asset Reform Act (ITARA) Sec. 
304, Transition Plan for the Office of the Special Trustee for American 

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: This notice announces that the Department of the Interior 
(Department) will be hosting two Tribal consultation sessions on a 
proposal to transfer the Office of the Special Trustee for American 
Indians (OST) to report to the Office of the Assistant Secretary--
Indian Affairs (AS-IA) in FY 2018 via a Secretary's Order. Under the 
proposal, the office would be headed temporarily by the Principal 
Deputy Special Trustee, who would be delegated the authorities of the 
Special Trustee for American Indians. Subsequently, the Department 
plans to appoint a career executive to act as the Director of OST.

DATES: Tribal consultation sessions will be held by phone on Wednesday, 
December 13, 1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. EST, and Thursday, December 14, 9:00 
a.m.- 12:00 p.m. EST. Comments on this proposal must be received by 
January 15, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Please submit comments via email to [email protected] or 
mail to Attn: ITARA Transition, c/o Elizabeth Appel, Office of 
Regulatory Affairs & Collaborative Action--Indian Affairs, 1849 C 
Street NW., Mail Stop 4660, Washington, DC 20240. The toll free call-in 
number for the consultation sessions is: (888) 324-2907, and the 
passcode is 9793554. Additional information is available at 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Elizabeth Appel, Director, Office 
of Regulatory Affairs & Collaborative Action, Office of the Assistant 
Secretary--Indian Affairs, at [email protected] or (202) 273-

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: OST was established in the Department by the 
American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act of 1994 (1994 Act), 
Public Law 103-412, when Congress decided a Special Trustee was needed 
to oversee reforms relating to trust responsibilities throughout the 
Department. In 1996, the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) 
transferred management of Indian trust funds from the Bureau of Indian 
Affairs (BIA) to the OST. See Secretarial Order No. 3197. OST has 
implemented reforms and managed Indian trust funds for over 20 years.
    In June 2016, Congress passed the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act 
(ITARA), Public Law 114-178. ITARA Section 304(a) requires the 
Secretary to prepare and submit a plan for the transition of functions 
of the OST to other bureaus or agencies within the Department within 
two years of submission of the plan to Congress. Beginning in August 
2016, the Department held one listening session and 10 Tribal 
consultation sessions throughout Indian Country and held an open period 
to solicit comments via a notice in the Federal Register. Based on 
consultation feedback, the Department determined that the most 
appropriate place for OST's core functions is to remain with OST as a 
permanent organization. To ensure fully integrated Indian policy and 
programs, we propose to realign OST to report to AS-IA. To meet the 
two-year deadline required by ITARA Section 304(a), the Department 
proposes transferring the OST to AS-IA in FY 2018 via a Secretary's 
    Today, the OST holds approximately $5 billion under trust 
management and administers approximately 3,400 tribal trust accounts 
for more than 250 Indian Tribes and over 400,000 Individual Indian 
Money (IIM) accounts. Each year, OST disburses roughly $1.2 billion to 
individual Indians and tribes. Receipting, investing, and disbursing 
activity is accomplished through the processing of 10.3 million 
financial transactions.
    The OST organization features five Regional Trust Administrators 
with extensive backgrounds in trust management, with over 50 Fiduciary 
Trust Officers to serve as the primary

[[Page 51861]]

point-of-contact for beneficiaries on trust matters, allowing OST to 
coordinate trust asset management activities with the BIA, tribes, and 
individual beneficiaries in their respective geographic areas. The OST 
operates a Trust Beneficiary Call Center (TBCC) to support a strong 
beneficiary trust relationship as envisioned in the original reform 
    Section 306 of ITARA requires the Secretary to identify cost 
savings that would result from the elimination of ``any program, 
function, service, or activity . . . of the Office of the Special 
Trustee that will not be operated or carried out as a result of a 
transfer of functions and personnel following enactment of this Act''. 
As the proposed plan calls for all functions of OST to be transferred 
under AS-IA intact, there will be no cost savings as defined by ITARA.
    Moreover, appropriations for OST increased relatively quickly after 
its inception as functions were transferred from other organizations 
within the Department to OST. Funding levels peaked in FY 2007 when OST 
received $223.3 million. In the last decade, however, funding has 
steadily decreased as reforms have been completed and efficiencies have 
been realized. In FY 2017, OST received $138.8 million--a 38 percent 
decrease from its peak funding. Any cost savings resulting from trust 
reforms have already been captured in the form of decreased budget 

    Authority: E.O. 13175, 65 FR 67250.

Jerold Gidner,
Principal Deputy Special Trustee.
[FR Doc. 2017-24319 Filed 11-7-17; 8:45 am]