TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation has received a clean audit opinion from an independent Certified Public Accounting firm for the tribe’s fiscal year 2020 financial statements, including the annual comprehensive budget and Cherokee Nation’s Respond, Recover and Rebuild COVID-19 relief initiatives through Sept. 30, 2020, which marked the end of FY2020.
The Cherokee Nation Constitution requires an annual audit of the financial statements by a Certified Public Accountant be completed and presented to the Council of the Cherokee Nation within six months following the end of each fiscal year. The FY2020 audit and accompanying financial reports were provided to the Council on March 31.
The Cherokee Nation has received clean, unmodified audit opinions every year for more than 20 years.
“The Cherokee Nation has long had a reputation for being good stewards of our finances. Independent auditors have vigorously reviewed our financial statements and given us clean opinions for decades, so it is no surprise that our most recent fiscal year statements are no different, even with a budget increase of nearly 50 percent between May and June of 2020 from gaining U.S. Treasury COVID relief funds. These COVID relief funds came with strict federal requirements outlining how those dollars can and cannot be disbursed, and we have followed those requirements from day one. The FY2020 independent audit confirms that,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “I want to commend the Treasurer and Cherokee Nation Financial Resources staff, comprised of more than 100 employees, for working tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic to see that funding was earmarked, spent properly and accounted for when helping our citizens through COVID, and for ensuring the audit’s completion by the Constitutional deadline, despite a nearly 50 percent reduction in staff last year caused by the pandemic. They have never wavered in the monumental responsibilities that they shoulder, and we are grateful for the work they do each day so that we were able to provide critical services to Cherokee families when they needed it most. Additionally, without the support and guidance of the Council of the Cherokee Nation, none of this would be possible.”
Aside from its annual audit, Cherokee Nation’s COVID-19 relief funds also undergo internal reviews by attorneys, accounting professionals and external consultants who ensure expenditures meet federal rules and regulations. The tribe has also established a Financial Resources COVID team with a cumulative total of 227 years of finance and accounting experience to specifically provide oversight of the tribe’s COVID-19 Respond, Recover and Rebuild funding initiatives, which have provided direct assistance to Cherokee citizens throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cherokee Nation’s COVID-19 relief funds are also subject to quarterly reporting to the U.S. Treasury, which has full audit and oversight of the funds.
Since 2013, the Cherokee Nation has also undergone 107 federal agency audits which have audited more than $420 million. These audits have shown that the Cherokee Nation has a 99.999% success rate for properly spending and accounting for its federal funding.
“At the end of the day, there are at least six layers of scrutiny that Cherokee Nation’s COVID-19 relief funds are subjected to,” said Treasurer Tralynna Sherrill Scott. “These processes are a challenge but they are an important part of our commitment to government accountability and transparency. Despite the tremendous challenges we were faced with during FY2020, we remained committed to the strenuous controls we have in place to ensure every dollar of the Cherokee people’s money is spent in accordance with the law, and properly accounted for. The Financial Resources team does a remarkable job and I could not be more proud to serve as the Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation.”
The Cherokee Nation Fiscal Year 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and the Popular Annual Financial Report are available to download at https://cherokee.org/our-government/office-of-financial-resources.