The audit released Wednesday outlines six options for the future of the museum, and the leadership of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum provided responses to the suggestions. Blake Wade, executive director of the state agency overseeing the project, said private donors have indicated only options No. 1 and 6 will result in a continued pledge of $40 million in funding.
1. Additional legislative funding
The legislature could provide $40 million in additional state funding to complete the project in conjunction with $40 million in private donations.
• Benefits: “If the state demonstrates its continued commitment, it could provide the impetus needed by AICCM to encourage others to donate in the hopes of creating an endowment fund and lessening the burden on the state in the future.”
• Costs: “The Board's past promise not to request additional funding begs the question whether $80 million will actually complete the AICCM.”
2. Phased implementation
The board could obtain $50 million to complete the interior and exterior construction, then pursue the additional $30 million needed to complete the exhibits and site improvements at a later date.
• Benefits: “The most immediately visible portion of the AICCM is completed, possibly renewing interest in the project. Renewed interest might facilitate securing the remaining funds.”
• Costs: “It is unknown whether private donors will accept new pledge terms. Finally, delaying exhibit fabrication and any remaining improvements increases the risk of cost inflation for those elements, impacting the validity of the $30 million estimate.”
3. Scale back remaining construction
The board could select options to reduce the total cost of the project including modification of the original vision for the museum in terms of materials and labor.
• Benefits: “Assuming private pledges remain at $40 million, a lower cost lessens the state's burden and might improve (the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority's) chances of securing additional funding from the Legislature.”
• Costs: “The costs of this option are minimal, but one remaining consideration is whether the Board could alter the project vision, given their adherence to the most elaborate alternative from the beginning.”
4. Discontinue funding and operations
Lawmakers could abandon the project, dissolving the state agency responsible, ending all funding other than for debt services. Under an agreement with Oklahoma City for the land donated for the project, the city could call breach of contract and reclaim the facilities on the land.
• Benefits: “The Legislature would absolve itself of construction and future funding obligations.”
• Costs: “This option represents the loss of the current value of the building … This approach does not absolve Oklahoma of its obligation to pay the debt service on the existing bond issues, which total approximately $5.2 million annually.”
5. Transfer museum management to another state agency
Transfer management of the project from the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority to another state agency, such as the Oklahoma Historical Society, which has experience managing museums across the state.
• Benefits: “The AICCM has a high likelihood of being completed under this scenario, enabling the AICCM to begin functioning and providing a return on the state's investment.”
• Costs: “Weakening NACEA Board control could lessen the American Indian tribes' support of the project.”
6. Modify or transfer AICCM ownership
The state relinquishes sole control of the project and facility and shares responsibility with another entity such as the city of Oklahoma City.
• Benefits: “The state will mitigate its future funding risks if ownership is shared.”
• Costs: “The state may face some costs in order to gain the potential long-term benefits of having the AICCM operational, depending on negotiations.”