Bureau of Indian Affairs director resigns

As the agency navigates turbulent times, its leadership changes hands.

 

After six months at the Interior Department, Bryan Rice, director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has resigned. An email sent Thursday by Principal Deputy Secretary for Indian Affairs John Tahsuda and obtained by NewTowncarShare News stated the resignation was effective Tuesday, April 24. The department has not released an official statement announcing the resignation.

No reason for the resignation was included in the announcement, and neither the Interior nor the BIA spokesperson would comment on the personnel change. “It is our policy not to discuss DOI personnel matters in the press,” BIA spokesperson Nedra Darling said in an email. As of Thursday night, Bryan Rice had not responded to an emailed request for comment. Rice, who is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, was appointed in October 2017. He has worked for the federal government for two decades, including as director for the Office of Wildland Fire with the Interior Department under the Obama administration. Darryl LaCounte, currently the BIA Rocky Mountain Regional Director based out of Billings, Montana, will replace him as acting director for the agency, according to Tahsuda’s email.

Bryan Rice stepped down from his position as director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on Tuesday.

The resignation comes during an administration marked by high turnover and turbulence in high-level positions. Calls for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to resign have grown, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is under investigation for ethics violations related to his travel. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has faced investigations and proposed budget cuts in the last year, and did not receive a director until seven months into Zinke’s tenure. showed that a third of those reassigned were Native American, despite Indigenous employees making up less than ten percent of the Interior Department. The bureau is also facing an administration disinterested in fully funding the agency; the Trump administration proposed a budget that would have cut $370 million from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Education, and $100 million from education programs in Indian Country.

In addition, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, like the Department of the Interior in general, has pervasive issues with harassment, as shown through a workplace survey made public late last year. The Bureau of Indian Affairs had the highest rates of harassment in the department overall, and has yet to publicly release a formal action plan of how it plans to address it. 

The workplace survey results, released two months after Rice became director, showed 40 percent of respondents experienced harassment in the previous 12 months, and high rates of racial and sexual harassment and assault that were higher than those at other Interior agencies. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they did not report because they did not think anything would be done, and only 11 percent said an investigation resulted from their complaint.

Those results bear out in investigations of the agency. Reports from the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Interior found multiple instances of harassment and that human resources officers and managers who knew about the harassment This week, the Interior Department released a bolstered policy to address harassment. the policy “holds employees accountable at the earliest possible stage” and that it will “take strong steps toward rooting out harassment at all levels of the Department.”

Anna V. Smith is an assistant editor for NewTowncarShare News.

 

NewTowncarShare News is conducting an ongoing investigation into instances of harassment, discrimination and sexual assault in Indian affairs agencies, and how agency officials handle these complaints. 

If you are a current or former employee of a federal Indian affairs agency who has experienced harassment, please consider contacting us. 

This form is secure, but please consider using a personal email address instead of your government email. 

Powered by .

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) seeks a director to lead a nationwide program focused on the protection of U.S. national parks from energy development...
  • Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • Crested Butte Land Trust seeks a development director to lead its fundraising efforts. Remote and unspoiled, Crested Butte is located in one of the Rockies...
  • 5-Acre Home Site, Great Views with Spectacular Sunsets From a South Facing Home Site. Excellent for Passive Solar Design. Covenants, No HOA. Keller Williams Co....
  • 3 bed/2 bath, detached strawbale building. 11.7 acres, barn, corrals, fenced. Wells, solar panels, greenhouses. Paved access. 575-535-2568.
  • WildEarth Guardians seeks two public interest-focused staff attorneys with a minimum of 5 years experience to join our legal team. Experience with at least some...
  • The New Mexico Wildlife Federation is seeking an Executive Director, a visionary leader who is passionate about public lands, dedicated to executing an innovative strategic...
  • HIGH COUNTRY NEWS Customer Service Specialist I General Statement of Duties: Works closely with the customer service manager performing high-volume routine computer database work. Also...
  • The Aravaipa Land Steward coordinates preserve stewardship work and general operations including maintenance and general preserve management. Implements preserve management plans, which may include species...
  • seeks a talented and dynamic development professional, with a passion for protecting our natural environment, to lead our development and fundraising team.
  • The Native American Fish and Wildlife Society seeks an Executive Director in Denver, CO to serve as the Chief Administrator of the national Native American...
  • NewTowncarShare News seeks a development assistant to assist with fundraising campaigns. HCN is an award-winning, national news magazine. Strong candidates will have experience administering...
  • Energiekontor US seeks experienced local candidate, must reside in western South Dakota. Send resume and cover letter to: [email protected]
  • Seeking passionate full-time Executive to lead the oldest non-profit organization in Idaho. Must have knowledge of environmental issues, excellent organizational, verbal presentation and written skills,...
  • Carbondale based public lands advocate, Wilderness Workshop, seeks a Conservation Director to help direct and shape the future of public land conservation on the West...
  • The Bighorn River Basin Project Manager identifies and implements projects to improve streamflows, restore stream and riparian habitat, improve fish passage and rehabilitate or replace...
  • Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one. 928-380-6570, www.testshop.com. More info at https://bit.ly/2Kgi340.
  • Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • 4 standard or custom lengths. Rugged protection for backpacking. Affordable pricing.
  • 5 acres, well. Abuts Carson NF; hike fish ski; deer turkey elk.