Reclamation Announces Decision Regarding OIG Investigation and Questioned Costs for Lower Brule Rural Water System

Media Contact: Tyler Johnson, (406) 247-7609

For Release: May 17, 2017

BILLINGS, Mont. -- Bureau of Reclamation's Great Plains Regional Director, Michael J. Ryan, has announced Reclamation's decision for Lower Brule Sioux Tribe to reimburse $54,190 of the more than $1.4 million identified as questionable costs. This decisions follows the Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation involving funds provided to the Tribe between October 2012 and March 2015 for the Lower Brule Rural Water System - part of the Mni Wiconi Rural Water Supply Project in South Dakota.

"Reclamation made a decision after careful review of the facts and findings of the audit, while staying in close coordination with the Tribe," said Ryan.

In January 2015, Human Rights Watch released a report with allegations into possible mismanagement of project funds. Following the OIG's audit, Reclamation and the Tribe met to address questions raised during the audit. The Tribe opened their records for Reclamation during the discussions, sharing information about their management of the water system.

"The Tribe and Reclamation worked cooperatively to reach the final number from the auditors questioned costs of over $1.4 million," said Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Chairman Boyd Gourneau. "This reflects well on the partnership between the Tribe and Reclamation in supporting our Project."

In addition to the decision requiring the Tribe to repay $54,190, Reclamation and the Tribe have jointly agreed to incorporate increased oversight of financial reporting and agreements.

"I appreciate the responsiveness and professionalism of the Tribe during the process," said Ryan. "Reclamation continues to be in full support of the Project and its efforts to provide a reliable supply of potable water to rural tribal customers and four nontribal towns in South Dakota."

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.