The Osage Nation's Treasury Department is housed in the Law Building on the Nation's campus in Pawhuska. Osage News File Photo
The Osage Nation’s hunt for a treasurer has failed to attract any qualified candidates despite efforts to sweeten the pot by raising the salary.
The Nation advertised the job in May, June, September and November but no one applied who was qualified for the job, said Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear. The job isn't currently advertised on the Nation's website but will be soon, per the Nation's HR department.
The job requires applicants to have a bachelor’s degree with a Certified Public Accountant’s license, at least two years of experience and a demonstrated ability to perform well in the job.
Standing Bear said that the past three treasurers – Callie Catcher, Sam Alexander and Jim Littleton – were all paid about $115,000, not enough to attract fresh talent to a difficult job.
Also a hurdle: The chief appoints the treasurer, and with 2022 being an election year, there is an element of risk for any candidate should Standing Bear not be reelected. Because of that, the job was advertised as “temporary.”
The new salary range is between $144,200 and $212,800, Standing Bear said, “but still no takers.”
Among past treasurers in the Standing Bear administration, Catcher, who also worked under Chief John D. Red Eagle, resigned because she had major health issues, Standing Bear said.
Alexander, the former Speaker of the Muscogee (Creek) National Council, and chair of the Creek gaming commission, was treasurer during Standing Bear’s first term. The Osage Nation Congress declined to confirm him for a second term.
“That was very disappointing,” Standing Bear said.
Littleton then took over in late 2018 and remained treasurer until he resigned in April.
All three treasurers were near or past retirement age, so their salary requirements were not high, Standing Bear said.
“We cannot find anyone who meets the qualifications who will take the job at the salary we offered,” he said. “I asked the Congress last year to amend the treasurer law to say that if no CPA was available we could use someone with five years’ experience as a controller.
“Congresswoman (Alice) Goodfox sponsored it but didn’t have the votes, so she withdrew it.
“A person with a professional license expects a much larger salary for this kind of work.”
For now, the top filled post in accounting is controller, a job held by Tyler McIntosh, who Standing Bear said has been doing a “great job” since hiring on in June.
In other accounting news, the Nation received what’s called a “Single Audit” required by the federal government of all entities that receive more than $750,000 a year in federal money.
The fiscal 2020 audit of governmental programs were largely clean and only had one significant finding, a substantial improvement over the same audit a year earlier. The one area concerned reconciliations not being performed timely, said the audit by REDW LLC CPAs of Phoenix.
“Financial statements and general ledger balances were not sufficiently reviewed throughout the fiscal year,” the audit noted. As a result, “significant adjustments” had to be made to records to “ensure accurate financial reporting.”
The nation acknowledged the shortcoming and noted that management had changed, estimating that the problem would be corrected by the end of September 2021.
In general, the audit showed that the Nation had $321.5 million in assets and $88.8 million in liabilities. It also shows that the Nation spent about $15.7 million less than budgeted for the 2020 fiscal year.
The audit was delayed due to Covid-19, said Standing Bear: “We were given extensions and we used every one of them. The audit was completed in December of 2021.”
He said he sent the audit to Congresswoman Jodie Revard, the chair of the Appropriations Committee. Revard requested a meeting with the chief and McIntosh before forwarding it to other members of Congress, Standing Bear said.
A broader, government-wide audit is expected to be completed later this month.
The lack of a treasurer has meant that Congress has not received quarterly financials and other reports as required by law.
“I’ve learned that there’s a big difference between treasurER and treasurY,” Revard said, noting that the laws require the treasurer to deliver the reports to Congress but that there has been no such person since Littleton resigned in April.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on Jan. 14 to note the Treasurer position is not currently advertised on the Nation's website.