Murkowski Demands Missing Report on Stimulus Jobs in Indian Country
Citing "Methodology inconsistencies," the Department of the Interior informed the tribal leaders across the country that they will not be releasing the 2010 Indian Population and Labor Force Report.
The Indian Employment, Training, and Related Sevices Demonstration Act of 1992 (PL 102-477) requires the BIA to publish reports every two years on the Indian population by gender, income level, age and availability for work.
There hasn't been a report published since 2005.
The BIA had difficulty with the data submitted by the different tribes, some didn't participate and the information that was submitted by tribes couldn't be verified.
Acting Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Donald Laverdure, in a July 2nd letter, thanked the participating tribes for the work that they did for the report, but also said, "Regrettably, the decision not to release the Labor Force Report is rooted in the survey methodology. The collected data from those 2010 methods did not adequately meet the standards of quality and reliability that are required of Federal agencies in reporting official statistics."
Laverdure said in his letter to the tribes that even though the report wouldn't be published, the data would be valuable as information that will lead to the development of a better report and survey in the future.
The 2010 report is very valuable because it would show to what extent the $3 billion Stimulus funds given to the tribes under the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act of 2009 helped those it was sent to. Laverdure's letter can be read here.
Today, Senator Lisa Murkowski wrote to Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar regarding the DOI’s failure to issue the American Indian Population and Labor Report as required by law. In a letter sent from Murkowski and her colleague on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), they criticize the DOI for failing to release vital labor information which will help Congress, Alaska Natives and Indian tribes evaluate employment conditions in Indian Country.
Senators Barrasso and Murkowski write:
“We agree that the ARRA was not a solution for growing Indian Country economies. Yet the Department is withholding information which will assist Congress and Indian tribes in evaluating the effectiveness of ARRA, economic conditions and developing strategies for long-term economic growth.
“Despite assurances from officials within the Department of Interior that they will meet their statutory obligations, the Department has failed to comply with the reporting requirements of the 1992 Act. We ask that you immediately release the report, or in the alternative, provide a complete explanation as to why the Department of Interior, despite prior assurances otherwise, has failed to comply with the law.”
Tribal leaders across the country are in agreement that even access to "flawed" or incomplete data would be better than no data at all, saying that even that data would be helpful to begin to bring better tools, policies and resources to bear on solving Indian Country problems.