The effectiveness of a team set up by the Internal Revenue Service to combat tax fraud and abuse in the Indian tribal sector cannot be determined because no specific performance objectives and measures have ever been developed, according to a new government report.

Within the IRS, the Indian Tribal Governments office is responsible for all federal tax issues related to federally recognized Indian tribes. To combat fraud and abuse in the Indian tribal sector, field groups were established by the management of the ITG office. 

The ITG established the Abuse Detection and Prevention Team, or ADAPT, in fiscal year 2004 with the goal of stemming the growth of fraud and abuse in the Indian tribal sector. However, a new report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that no specific performance objectives and measures were developed for the team. As a result, TIGTA could not determine if ADAPT is effectively combatting fraud and abuse in the Indian tribal sector. The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 requires agencies to set program goals and measure program performance against those goals.

Furthermore, while ADAPT management has cited the challenge of establishing specific performance objectives and measurements, TIGTA found that there is a knowledge base upon which to draw.  Based on TIGTA's research, other IRS fraud-related programs have developed goals and methods for evaluating program success.

TIGTA recommended that the ITG director develop specific performance objectives and measures to better assess ADAPT performance. In response to the report, IRS management agreed with the recommendation and plans to review performance objectives and associated measures in other IRS fraud-related programs to determine whether, and at what level, similar standards can be implemented by the ADAPT. To the degree appropriate, the IRS plans to implement such standards.

“The ADAPT groups specifically focus on the areas of fraud and tax avoidance schemes in Indian Country,” wrote Joseph H. Grant, acting commissioner of the IRS’s Tax Exempt and Government Entities division. “In this role, ADAPT receives referrals from multiple sources, including tribal members, elected officials, employees and tribal law enforcement. We consider the tribes our partners in combating those abuses, and ADAPT works along with other law enforcement, including tribal law enforcement, to protect tribal assets from abuse and exploitation…. Our experience, and the data we have seen, does not support any implication that fraudulent or abusive schemes are more prevalent in Indian Country than in other sectors of the population, or that tribes or their members are the major source of those schemes.”

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