As the Eighth Osage Nation Congress convened for its fifth special session, a bill seeking to change the qualifications for the Nation’s Treasurer was withdrawn from consideration.
The Congressional special session started Jan. 10 with several items up for consideration including ONCA 23-09 (sponsored by Congressman Scott BigHorse), which sought to amend Osage law changing the qualifications for the Nation’s Treasurer to remove the mandate that the official possesses a certified professional accountant (CPA) credential. The now-withdrawn bill proposed that the CPA credential be preferred while requiring a minimum of five years prior government accounting experience.
At the start of the session, Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear told Congress he spoke with BigHorse regarding the bill and noted he wanted to advertise the Treasurer position again for prospective candidates with the amended qualifications. Once a Treasurer is selected and appointed by the Principal Chief, that person is subject to a confirmation vote by the 12-member Congress.
“The sponsor and I have conferred this morning and he would like to pull that legislation and we of course have no objection to that,” said Standing Bear, whose office issued an Executive Proclamation calling for the special session as allowed by the Osage Constitution. “I was wanting to advertise again for that position. As you know, we advertised five times – the last time for two months. I am waiting on your preference on this issue, so I guess we’ll wait until the next session after Congress has a chance to look at this, discuss it. I was hoping to get that done this session so we could advertise, but I’ll pull back and see what happens. In the meantime, (Acting Treasurer) Tyler McIntosh and his team are doing an excellent job.”
The Constitution mandates that a Department of the Treasury be established in the Executive Branch under Osage law and “the Principal Chief shall appoint a Treasurer to act as the Chief Financial Officer and administer fiscal policy and ensure financial accountability of the Osage Nation, by and with the advice and consent of the Osage Nation Congress.”
The bill’s withdrawal also comes after Congressman Eli Potts hosted his annual Town Hall in Pawhuska on Jan. 9 with legislative colleagues Joe Tillman and John Maker.
Potts noted a similar bill in previous years to change the CPA requirement for the Treasurer was voted down and he still opposed the change while the Nation was still seeking applicants nearly two years after Jim Littleton resigned the post.
“We’ve been unable to meet that (CPA) qualification for our Treasurer since April of 2021,” Potts said, adding the position has a maximum salary of more than $200,000 per year. “It’s just very difficult for me to believe we can’t find a CPA to do the job for that price. And so at this point, I don’t know I’m totally opposed to lowering that requirement, but never would I do it before that requirement is met. I think we need to meet the requirement that is in law and if that individual is confirmed by this Congress and comes before us and says ‘hey, this isn’t actually a requirement, you can find the same services by going this avenue,’ I’m willing to listen to that and go down the road at that point.”
According to ONCA 23-09, the bill sought to amend the qualifications to read: “The Treasurer shall have obtained a bachelor’s degree, Certified Public Accountant (CPA) preferred, and have a minimum of five years of experience administering a government fund accounting system with tribal experience preferred.” Other proposed law amendment changes that were included: “The Treasurer should have a clear understanding of banking reconciliations and the federal draw down processes.”
The current Osage law requires the Treasurer to have both a bachelor’s degree and to be a CPA in addition to being “required to have a minimum of two years of experience administering a governmental fund accounting system” in addition to “shall also have the demonstrated qualifications to responsibly manage the Nation’s funds to obtain maximum productivity, develop and implement fiscal policies and procedures, manage financial systems, develop and implement training programs, develop and manage tactical and strategic plans of governmental structure entities, gaming entities, business enterprise entities, and any other entity the Nation chooses to charter in the future under the purview of the Osage Nation Executive Branch, as well as develop and monitor related budgets to assure successful implementation of program or department operations.”
For more information on the Legislative Branch, filed legislative bills/ resolutions, session and committee meetings, visit: https://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/who-we-are/legislative-branch