When I was sworn in as Tribal Chairman, I was immediately confronted with issues from the Department of Housing and Urban Development concerning the tribe’s monetary policies and expenditures. From Day 1 of my term, my focus has been improving our relationship with HUD, addressing the compliance issues with the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act program, and improving the overall efficiency and effectiveness of our government. This continues to be a priority of the utmost importance.
As many of you know, HUD conducted an on-site monitoring with our Housing Department in 2015. The draft monitoring report issued in 2016 identified compliance issues with our Tribal Housing Department and possible disallowed expenditures under the previous administration. Recently, the current administration received the Final Monitoring Report from the 2015 site visit. The report identified disallowed costs associated with: travel and training for Tribal Council members; food and other expenditures by the Youth Services Department; and our tribal procurement procedures.
HUD notified the current administration in July that two previous findings from 2014 were deemed justified and removed from the final report. Those programs were associated with veteran’s general program expenditures, including an approximately $5,000 salt water fishing charter, and food expenditures for activities conducted on behalf of the LTNC Boys & Girls Clubs and Elder’s Advisory Council. The report is available for review by the public. Copies may be requested through the Freedom of Information Act or the Lumbee Tribe Disclosure Ordinance.
The current administration is actively working with HUD to determine the full of amount of the disallowed costs that must be paid back to the government. In the meantime, we have worked with the Youth Services Department to identify additional grants to supplement our Boys and Girls Clubs, including partnerships with the USDA and Public Schools to provide food for Boys and Girls Club participants. Changes have been made to the procurement policies to ensure uniformity, control, and overall fairness in each and every procurement process.
Tribal staff members have participated in extensive training, especially with regards to tribal and federal procurement rules and regulations. We created the legal and compliance officer position to ensure all our grants, programs, and policies are compliant with all tribal, federal, and state laws and regulations. Along with the Tribal Council, this administration has been able to develop reasonable policies and procedures for the training and development of our elected officials, ensuring that all federal funds expended on travel are necessary and reasonable. Since 2016, the amount of money spent on elected official travel has significantly decreased.
In order for our tribal government to provide the best service to tribal members, it was necessary for this administration to identify the cause of each HUD finding and concern and put remedial measures in place. I am confident that this has been successful in this endeavor.
Harvey Godwin is chairman of the Lumbee Tribal Government.