Internet access is being restored to the Office of the Special Trustee for
American Indians (OST), following a recent court ruling. This means OST employees
will soon be able to communicate via email to conduct business.
“Having access to the Internet and utilizing modern technology provides additional opportunities to expand efficiencies and enhance operations throughout the organization,” said Donna Erwin, Principal Deputy Special Trustee.
On Dec. 5, 2001, the federal judge in a class action lawsuit against the Department of the Interior, Cobell v. Norton, entered a temporary restraining order requiring the Department to disconnect from the Internet all information technology systems that housed or provided access to individual Indian trust data, on the basis of perceived risks to that data.
On Dec. 17, 2001, a Consent Order was entered which continued that prohibition and also established a process for the Department to obtain permission from the court to reconnect bureaus on a case-by-case basis. Parts of the Department were permitted to reconnect in 2002.
However, the five offices that work closely with Indian trust data remained off the Internet. On May 14, 2008, U.S. District Judge James Robertson, the presiding judge in the case, vacated the Consent Order thus allowing those offices to reconnect.
Visit OST’s website, www.doi.gov/ost, for information updates.
The mission of the Office of Special Trustee is to carry out the Department’s fiduciary trust responsibilities to American Indian tribes, individual Indians and Alaska Natives by incorporating a beneficiary focus and beneficiary participation while providing effective, competent stewardship and management of trust assets.