If ever a federal agency were a candidate for termination, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) would make for a good choice. The BIA combines patronage, outright corruption and ethnic separatism into a single package, wasting sizable tax dollars in the process. Yet few in Congress have the stomach for a fight with supporters of the bureau, now with a roughly $2.7 billion annual budget. That's not the only Indian agency in need of serious downsizing.
Patronage and corruption at the U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is not exactly a well-kept secret. A widespread scam in a BIA loan program in Montana has brought home this reality with full force. And fully six persons have been sentenced as a result. On October 21, one of those persons, Dolly Diane Crowe, a former employee of the credit office at Fort Peck Indian Reservation, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Montana to two years in prison and three years of probation for theft and conspiracy to obstruct a federal audit. She also will have to make $143,120 in restitution, though the grand total of the scam was much higher. The details of the case underscore the necessity of better oversight at the BIA and indeed call into question why the agency should exist at all.