United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
Senators John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Tom Udall (D-NM), Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs introduced legislation this week to help improve the hiring process for Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) law enforcement positions. The legislation would put in place a demonstration program enabling the BIA to conduct background checks for the agency’s law enforcement positions.
Currently, the BIA runs their background checks through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which often takes as long as 12 to 18 months to complete the investigation.
“This legislation would establish a demonstration program within the BIA to help address the backlog of background checks for those seeking to become BIA law enforcement officers. BIA law enforcement positions often go unfilled due to a lengthy background check process. It is critical that we fill those vacancies with qualified individuals and give BIA law enforcement the support they need,” Hoeven said. “This legislation will give BIA the authority to conduct their own background checks and fill those positions in a timely manner.”
“As I pointed out in the Indian Affairs Committee’s hearing on missing and murdered Indigenous women, one of the biggest public safety issues facing Indian Country is the need for more law enforcement personnel. When qualified candidates apply for Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement positions, they often face a needlessly cumbersome and lengthy hiring process – which sometimes stretches out for a year or more. This discourages applicants and worsens the officer shortage in tribal communities. That is totally unacceptable,” said Udall. “I’m glad Senator Hoeven and I were able to work together on this bipartisan legislation. It is an important step in the right direction that would cut red tape and improve the background check process so that we can put more officers on the ground in Native communities to help keep Indian Country safe.”
- Gives the Secretary of the Interior authority to conduct background investigations for law enforcement positions within the BIA for the duration of the demonstration program.
- Directs the Secretary to consider prior background checks in the process of their investigation.
- Gives the Secretary the authority to enter into memorandums of agreement with State, Local, and Tribal governments to expedite the process.
- Sets forth reporting requirements for BIA, and requires GAO to review the program to ensure the program’s integrity.