We found systemic flaws at the Osage Agency, a unit of BIA, that have created an ineffective program for managing the Osage Nation's mineral estate (oil, gas, and other reservation sub-surface minerals). Further, we found that the Osage Nation Minerals Council exerts significant influence over the Agency, which inhibits the Agency's ability to manage the tribe's oil and gas program.
Overall, we found the program fundamentally flawed. More specifically, the Agency does not have or has vague policies and procedures for managing the Osage Nation's mineral estate, does not comply with environmental law, does not have sufficient planning and mineral resource management, and does not have effective data management.
Separate legislation specifically excludes the Osage Nation from other Indian oil and gas regulations. As a result, the Council has resisted assistance from the Bureau of Land Management, BIA, and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue. Council actions, however, go beyond what it considers its unique status. This effectively avoids more oversight and merely maintains the status quo.
We previously provided BIA with three Notices of Potential Findings and Recommendations. The BIA Director agreed with most of our recommendations. He anticipated that newly proposed regulations would address many of our recommendations.
In response to our draft report, BIA concurred with all 33 of our recommendations, citing the actions it would take or has already taken, target dates for completion, and personnel responsible for implementing the recommendations.
Implementing the recommendations will assist BIA's Osage Agency to manage the Osage Nation's mineral resources more effectively.