Proposed Audit Regulations Threaten Tribal Sovereignty

– By Ryan Burns

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has published a set of proposed revisions to the audit and compliance requirements for those entities filing audits under the Single Audit Act (OMB Circular A-133). Under the current requirements, any entity that expends more than $500,000 of federal grants during its fiscal year must complete and submit a financial and compliance audit to the Federal Audit Clearinghouse within nine months of the end of its reporting period. This compliance requirement is one of the primary reasons that many tribal governments engage Certified Public Accountants to perform audits of their financial statements and grant compliance.

Included within the proposed changes to the compliance, audit, and reporting requirements is a statement under Section 712 citing that, “Unless restricted by law or regulation, the auditee shall make copies [of its reporting package] available for public inspection,” thereby making the tribe’s financial statements included in the single audit reporting package publicly available. Currently, the only online accessible audit information submitted to the Federal Audit Clearinghouse for tribal governments is the Data Collection Form which summarizes the audit results and provides a listing of the federal grant or contract expenditures of the tribe for each fiscal period. The proposed changes, if passed, could provide accessibility by the general public to the tribe’s financial statements, findings and corrective action plan, schedule of expenditures of federal awards, and auditor’s reports.

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