WINDOW ROCK — With this year's Northern Navajo Nation Fair around the corner, the fair board is working to erase past mistakes.
That is what the top two fair board members told the Budget and Finance Committee in a special meeting Thursday in Window Rock.
In March, the Navajo Nation Office of the Auditor General released its special review of the 2012 Northern Navajo Nation Fair. The review found the fair made a profit of $36,576, but there was a lack of control over revenue and expenses and a lack of adequate management over fair events.
The report noted that the board did not capitalize on all "revenue generating activities," resulting in $65,000 in lost revenue.
Since June, the Budget and Finance Committee has been trying to consider the corrective action plan submitted by the Northern Navajo Nation Fair Board. None of the fair board members appeared before the committee, so the legislative counsel was directed to subpoena board members. Auditor General Elizabeth Begay explained that fair board members could not be subpoenaed because they did not have mailing addresses, but fair board chair Sophina Tyler and vice chair Harrison Dick were at Thursday's meeting.
Begay said that the corrective action plan addresses the audit findings.
In Tyler's response, she said the fair board is implementing the corrective action plan for the upcoming fair, scheduled for Oct. 3 through 6. The plan was submitted March 29 to the auditor general's office,
"We have everybody in line with what we actually stated," Tyler said.
The fair is managed by a 19-member fair board with each member representing a chapter within the Northern Agency.
It was established, created and confirmed by the Resources and Development Committee as an entity of the tribe and the Northern Navajo Nation Agency Council.
Alfreda Lee, a senior auditor who conducted the review, explained that in 2012 the fair was managed by the fair board and the Navajo Nation Fair Office.
"Going forward, the corrective action plan is being implemented by the board. They are, at this time, not including the fair office in the corrective action plan," Lee said.
Therefore, she said, the corrective action plan was created and is being implemented by the fair board.
A memorandum of understanding was made and entered Sept. 28, 2012, between the fair board and the tribe's fair office, which was under the management of the Navajo Nation Museum.
The agreement was developed to manage the fair's activities and events by the tribe's fair office.
Dick said the fair board is practicing the corrective measures for this year's fair but questioned why the tribe was not directed to assist in developing the corrective action plan since it helped operate the fair.
"I think that the people who ran the fair should have done the corrective action plan," Dick said.
Committee member Danny Simpson continually brought up that shared oversight, especially since the fair board was the only entity responsible for submitting the corrective action plan.
"My thing is that it was run by a program under the Navajo Nation," Simpson said.
Committee member Nelson Begaye referred to a letter written by museum director Manuelito Wheeler, which says the fair office assisted, but the fair board was responsible for the corrective action plan
"He backed off right off the bat," Begaye said.
In Wheeler's March 28 letter to the auditor general's office, he stated that the fair office was given "full authority to manage all aspects" of the fair but decided that imposing drastic measures would only create further confusion and dissention.
"As the annual event is governed by an official board, our intent was to provide technical assistance and support for improvement purposes," Wheeler wrote.
No one from the fair office was at Thursday's meeting, but the committee did approve adding the museum in implementing the corrective action plan.
Before accepting the corrective action plan, Begay, the auditor general, said her office would conduct another review in a year.
If the fair board is found not compliant with the corrective action plan, they could face sanctions.
"All activities will occur as scheduled as before. The only thing is tight control over waivers, passes, admissions, revenues and expenses -- everything based on the corrective action plan," Tyler said after the meeting about this year's fair.Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.