Shiprock Chapter seeks auditor general review

Noel Lyn Smith

FARMINGTON — Shiprock Chapter members are being asked to approve a resolution that would ask the tribe's Office of the Auditor General to review the chapter's administrative processes and possibly remove sanctions placed on the chapter's budget more than four years ago.

Shiprock Chapter

If approved, the resolution would start the process for clearing sanctions tribal lawmakers placed on the chapter in 2011 for failing to manage its finances and programs.

The resolution is listed on the agenda for the chapter's information meeting on Sunday.

The auditor general's office reviewed the chapter's finances between Oct. 1, 2005, and June 30, 2007, and found several problems. In response, the chapter in March 2008 submitted a corrective action plan, a document that explains how problems or errors will be fixed.

In March 2011, the auditor general's office issued a follow-up review of that plan that found the chapter had implemented only one of 19 corrective measures listed in its plan. The office identified several issues with the chapter’s finance controls and management oversight and recommended sanctions.

As a result, on Dec. 20, 2011, the Navajo Nation Council's Budget and Finance Committee voted 5-0 to impose sanctions against the chapter and its officials for failing to implement its corrective action plan.

When a chapter is sanctioned, Navajo law mandates the tribe's Office of the Controller withhold 10 percent of the chapter’s annual budget and 20 percent of any payments to chapter officials.

The Budget and Finance Committee initially tabled legislation proposing sanctions against Shiprock Chapter on July 26, 2011. At that time, the committee directed the auditor general to conduct a supplemental follow-up review after 90 days.

The resolution before chapter members right now states chapter leadership and staff "have made concerted efforts to address the (corrective action plan) items and believe that the items have been satisfactorily addressed and rectified and are prepared for the review by the auditor general."

Alfreda Lee, senior auditor with the auditor general's office in Window Rock, Ariz., said if the chapter approves the resolution and it is submitted to the office, staff would give it priority because it concerns lifting sanctions.

The information meeting will start at noon Sunday at the Shiprock Chapter house.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.