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Annual Trust Evaluations

     For Presentation at
  OSG Orientation Session
   (2012 Self-Governance
     Spring Conference)

             Annual Trust Evaluations
   25 U.S.C. § 458cc(d) requires Self-
    Governance Funding Agreements negotiated
    between the Secretary and Indian Tribe to
    include provisions:
    (1) to monitor performance of trust functions
    by the Tribe through an annual trust
    evaluation; and
    (2) for the Secretary to reassume a Program,
    Service, Function, or Activity (PSFA) if there
    is a finding of imminent jeopardy to a physical
    trust asset, natural resources, or public health
    and safety.

            Annual Trust Evaluations
   Implementing regulations found at 25 CFR §
    1000 Subpart O define a trust evaluation as an
    annual review and evaluation of trust functions
    performed by a Tribe to ensure that functions
    are performed in accordance with trust
    standards as defined by Federal law. Trust
    evaluations address trust functions performed
    by the Tribe on its own behalf as well as trust
    functions performed by the Tribe for the benefit
    of individual Indians or Alaska Natives.
          Annual Trust Evaluations
 Trust resources include property and
  interests in property that are held in trust by
  the United States for the benefit of a tribe or
  individual Indians or are subject to
  restrictions upon alienation.
 Trust assets include other assets, trust
  revenue, royalties, or rental, including
  natural resources, land, water, minerals,
  funds property, assets, or claims, and any
  intangible right or interest in the mentioned
       Annual Trust Evaluations
 Trust assets also include any other
  property, asset, or interest therein, or treaty
  right for which the United States is charged
  with a trust responsibility. For example,
  water rights and off-reservation treaty
 The definitions of trust resources and trust
  assets are for trust evaluation purposes
            Annual Trust Evaluations
   Each year the Secretary’s designated
    representative(s) will conduct trust evaluations
    for each Self-Governance Funding Agreement.
   The Office of the Special Trustee for American
    Indians (OST) has been delegated the authority
    to conduct the annual trust evaluations.
   Unless standards are otherwise provided by
    Federal treaties, statutes, case law or
    regulations, the Tribe and OST will negotiate
    standards of review at the request of the Tribe.
       Annual Trust Evaluations
 25 CFR § 1000.355 indicates how trust
  evaluations are to be conducted.
 OST must prepare a written report
  documenting the results of the trust
 Upon Tribal request, OST will provide the
  Tribe with a copy of the report for review
  and comment before finalization.
 OST will attach to the report any Tribal
  comments that OST does not accept.
       Annual Trust Evaluations
 If the annual evaluation reveals that
  deficient performance of a trust function is
  due to the action or inaction of a bureau,
  the evaluation report will note the deficiency
  and the appropriate Department official will
  be notified of the need for corrective action.
 A finding of imminent jeopardy triggers the
  Federal reassumption process as identified
  in 25 CFR Part 1000 Subpart M.
              Annual Trust Evaluation
   The reassumption process will not be triggered
    if OST determines that the Tribe can cure the
    conditions causing jeopardy within 60 days and
    will not cause significant loss, harm, or
    devaluation of a trust asset, natural resources,
    or the public health and safety.
   The Tribe is primarily responsible for identifying
    and implementing corrective actions but the
    Department may also suggest possible
    corrective actions for Tribal consideration.
         Annual Trust Evaluations
   Imminent jeopardy means an immediate
    threat and likelihood of significant
    devaluation, degradation, damage, or loss
    of a trust asset, or the intended benefit from
    the asset caused by the actions or inactions
    of a Tribe in performing trust functions. This
    includes disregarding Federal trust
    standards and/or Federal law while
    performing trust functions if the disregard
    creates such an immediate threat.

             Annual Trust Evaluations
   The standard for natural resources is the same
    as for a physical trust asset, except a review for
    compliance with specific mandatory statutory
    provisions related to the program as reflected in
    the Funding Agreement must be considered.
   Imminent jeopardy to public health and safety,
    means an immediate and significant threat of
    serious harm to human well-being, including
    conditions that may result in serious injury, or
    death, caused by Tribal action or inaction or as
    otherwise provided in a Funding Agreement.
       Annual Trust Evaluations
 The Secretary must reassume a program
  within 60 days of a finding of imminent
  jeopardy, unless the Secretary’s designated
  representative determines that the Tribe is
  able to mitigate the conditions.
 A reassumption action taken by the
  Secretary does not affect the Tribe’s ability
  to negotiate a Funding Agreement for
  programs not affected by the reassumption.
      Self-Governance Annual Trust
   A reassumed program may be included in
    future Funding Agreements but the
    Secretary may include conditions in the
    terms of the Funding Agreement to ensure
    that the circumstances that caused
    jeopardy do not reoccur.

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