Indian Affairs | Budget Management

Budget Management

The Mission of the BIA, Branch of Wildland Fire is to execute its fiduciary trust responsibility by protecting lives, property and resources while restoring and maintaining healthy ecosystems through cost-effective and creative fire management programs, collaboration and promoting Indian Self-determination.

To carry-out this mission, the Branch Budget Office dispenses wildland fire management funding to 12 BIA Regional Offices that are responsible for distributing funding to the agencies and tribes they oversee. The Branch manages a $200 million dollar budget, which supports five wildland fire accounts; Preparedness, Wildfire Suppression, Hazardous Fuels Reduction, Burned Area Emergency Response and Rural Fire Assistance. These accounts play a significant role in carrying out BIA’s wildland fire management trust mission.

The Branch Budget staff work with four Department of Interior budget offices, the Office of Wildland Fire, the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, Washington, D.C. Budget Officers and BIA Regional Offices to: formulate, justify, administrate and execute national policy related to budgets and finances. The unit works with the bureau administrative payment team to ensure casual employees and businesses are paid in a timely manner for their emergency support efforts.

Wildland Fire &  Aviation Program Management Operations Guide - Budget Management (Chapter 13)

This chapter governs use of the Bureau’s Wildland Fire Management (WFM) appropriation account structure, procedures, cost accounting and one time funding procedures. Personnel at all levels within the Bureau need to be aware of the responsibilities and limitations on the use of these funds, which this chapter and other financial and budget handbooks address.

Program Budget
Annual Appropriations are made available for the WFM, pursuant to the passage of the annual appropriation act for the DOI and related agencies. The WFM Appropriation is a No-Year Appropriation. At the end of each fiscal year any unexpended funds may be carried over into the next fiscal year. These funds are held at the national level for distribution based on Bureau priorities, as identified by the Branch of WFM’s Director.

Funded Program Procedures   
WFM funds, excluding emergency suppression funding (unless under a Continuing Resolution), will be distributed to: BIA-NIFC Budget Office. The BIA-NIFC Budget Office will distribute regional funds to Regional WFM program except for OSG, which will be disbursed directly from BIA-NIFC to OSG. Instructions are provided with the FBMS Funding Entry Document (FED). The instructions detail how distributions are to be made from regions to agencies/tribes for preparedness programs. All funded codes (WBS) are authorized and implemented by BIA-NIFC Budget Office or the Central Office. BIA budget offices will use FBMS to track the WFM program funds Regional Preparedness funds will be distributed from NIFC. Regional FMO’s are responsible for the allocation of these preparedness funds to agencies and tribes.

NIFC-Budget seldom uses WBS codes for Regional Preparedness distribution. Program funds accomplish projects or missions. It is important that obligations and expenditures associated with funds be coded to appropriate budget program or mission. This includes funds obligated to Indian Tribes through contracts, agreements or grants.

BIA-NIFC Budget will send under separate cover a FED to fund the Hazardous Fuels Reduction (HFR) and Prevention programs. Emergency Suppression must be accounted for by incident. The Fire Code System will be used to derive fire codes. These codes must be approved by the Assistant Director, Fire Operations.

Recurring funding requests for the HFR or Prevention program need to be sent to BIA-NIFC by October 1. Recurring projects, such as Supplemental or Community Assistance, are prioritized in order of importance. Refer to the Fuels Business Handbook for guidance and direction.

Supplemental funds must be evaluated and approved by the respective regional office and forwarded to the BIA-NIFC Office. Refer to the FY13 Federal Financial Management Handbook for the cost-string configuration.FBMS Data fields will consist of the codes below:  

- Fund – how we track our budget (i.e., 13XA1125TR)
- Functional Areas – why we are spending the money (i.e., AF1004040.8Q4100) 
- Fund Center/Cost Center – who is spending the money (i.e., AAK4004401) 
- Funded Programs/Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) – what we are spending on projects (i.e., 125600) 
- Budget Object Class (BOC) - Commitment Item - items related to our spending/ collecting  (i.e., AF.PPNIFC0000.00000)

Purpose of One-Time Funding
The One-Time Funding program provides mechanisms to request funding for special projects or needs that exceed an agency’s regular budgeted funds. Funds used in this program are non-recurring in nature, and are based on either available prior year un-obligated balances (funds that are available this year, extra funds), or unused Indirect costs. The format for requesting one-time funds is identified in Appendix 13-2.

Funding Submission Format
Requests are submitted to the regional office for approval. The process verifies that the request meets the intent and fire policy of Interior Appropriation Act language. The regional office then submits prioritized funding requests to the BIA-NIFC Budget Office. WBS to be assigned by BIA-NIFC Budget or the Central Office.

Procedures for One-Time Funding Submission  
Individual plans should be submitted to Regional Offices for review, changes or rejection. Once approved at the regional level, the requests will be forwarded to NIFC. Critical needs projects are high priority projects, or an activity ready for implementation, and require immediate funding at the start of the FY, before appropriations bills are signed. Critical needs should only cover three months of project needs, but will continue under Continuing Resolutions (CR) until an appropriations bill is passed.

One-Time Funding for Preparedness (signed by appropriate Regional Director) will be submitted to BIA-NIFC by May 15 for the upcoming Fiscal Year for current year needs. Requests received after deadlines will be given lower priority. BIA-NIFC will evaluate all requests based on the region’s prioritization and the availability of funds.

Requesting One-Time Funding Procedure
Requestor is to develop a request using the established request format. If there is more than one request, prioritize the requests. Completed requests are forwarded to the regional office for review and prioritization. Upon regional office approval, consolidation, and prioritization, requests are forwarded to the BIA-NIFC Budget Office, no later than May 15 each year in case additional funds become available for distribution.

Requests will be analyzed, prioritized and may be funded in the third quarter of the year, if merited. Funding for approved projects will be executed from the BIA-NIFC Budget Office to the Bureau’s Washington DC Budget Office to process. The Bureau’s BIA-NIFC Budget Office will allocate the funds to the appropriate region for distribution to the respective agencies. 

OWF issues a distribution plan to the BIA, BLM, FWS, USFS and NPS, to notify them of their allocations in each activity, and concurrently issues a Standard Form 1151, Non-Expenditure Transfer Authorization. The wildland fire allocations are forwarded to each Interior budget office, according to the distribution plan.

  • Preparedness – Through appropriate planning and coordination, this funding pays for activities that lead to a safe, efficient and cost-effective fire management programs that support land and resource management objectives. More specifically, these funds build, sustain and improve the capability to protect against, respond to and recover from wildland fire incidents.
  • Suppression – Funding for all work that goes towards extinguishing or confining a wildfire, beginning with its discovery.
  • Hazardous Fuels Reduction – The Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program provides funding to projects that remove or reduces accumulations of vegetation (fuels) that would otherwise contribute to rapid fire spread and extreme fire behavior; thereby assisting firefighters in protecting lives, property and resources.
  • Burned Area Rehabilitation (BAER) –The BAER Program addresses stabilization and rehabilitation of post wildland fire problems to protect public safety and prevent further degradation of the landscape. Emergency stabilization and burned area rehabilitation are part of a holistic approach to addressing post wildfire issues which also includes suppression activity damage repair and long-term (>3 years) restoration.