The report also shows the Department of Health and Human Services funded two ineligible Indian tribes during the four-year span, although the amounts awarded in those cases totaled just $244,000.
The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of New Jersey and the Powhatan Renape Nation both received funds despite not being recognized by their home state.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which disbursed the funds to the two tribes, reported that the tribes' “state-recognized” status would have been traced back roughly 30 years, when the New Jersey Legislature passed concurrent resolutions recognizing the tribes.
Those resolutions, however, were not signed by the governor and aren't considered the letter of the law, the report shows.
“Agency officials told us they did not take any additional steps to verify that the entity was in fact state recognized,” the GAO analyst wrote.
“They also said they have had regular contact with state officials about the awards, and those state officials never told them that the tribe was not state recognized.”
Overall, the study found that almost all of the funds sent to nonfederally recognized tribes were disbursed appropriately, and any questionable findings were being dealt with by the agencies involved.