[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 103 (Wednesday, May 31, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 24990-24991]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-11186]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Office of Hearings and Appeals

[17XD0120OS.DX68201.QAGENLAM.DOTN00000.000000.DS68241000]


Tribal Listening Session; Oklahoma City Probate Hearings Division 
Field Office

AGENCY: Office of Hearings and Appeals, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: The Department of the Interior's (Department) Office of 
Hearings and Appeals (OHA), Probate Hearings Division (Ph.D.) is 
responsible for probating Indian trust estates. OHA plans to close the 
Ph.D. Oklahoma City Field Office at the end of this fiscal year, 
September 30, 2017. This notice is to inform interested federally 
recognized tribes, individual Indians, and other interested parties of 
an upcoming opportunity to share insights and make recommendations 
regarding how OHA can best maintain its level of service. The agencies 
and areas served by the Oklahoma City Ph.D. office include Horton, 
Absentee Shawnee, Anadarko, Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw 
Nation, Citizen Pottawatomie, Concho, Eastern Oklahoma, Miami, Pawnee, 
Sac & Fox (except IA), Shawnee, and Southern Plains.

DATES: Written comments must be received by June 30, 2017. Please see 
the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice for the date of 
the Tribal listening session.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
     Email: [email protected]
     By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail to Ms. Christine Kelly, 
Office of Hearings and Appeals, Probate Hearings Division, U.S. 
Department of the Interior, P.O. Box 26147, Albuquerque, NM 87125; or 
by hand delivery to: Ms. Christine Kelly, Office of Hearings and 
Appeals, Probate Hearings Division, U.S. Department of the Interior, 
1011 Indian School Road, NW., Room 322, Albuquerque, NM 87104.
    Please see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice for 
information on the Tribal listening session.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Christine Kelly, Office of 
Hearings and Appeals, Probate Hearings Division, U.S. Department of the 
Interior, P.O.

[[Page 24991]]

Box 26147, Albuquerque, NM 87104; telephone--(505) 563-5330; email_
[email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    The Department will host the Tribal listening session by 
teleconference on June 22, 2017 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Central 
Time. The call-in number is: 1-888-968-4312 and the passcode is: 
3839047. The Department will also accept written comments received by 
the date listed in the DATES section of this notice.

I. Background

    PHD serves as the Department's administrative trial court for 
Indian probate cases. Through formal hearings conducted by 
Administrative Law Judges and Indian Probate Judges, and summary 
proceedings conducted by an Attorney Decision Maker, PHD determines the 
rightful heirs and beneficiaries of decedents who owned property held 
in trust or restricted title by the United States. PHD determines the 
validity of wills, decides what claims against the estate will be 
allowed, and orders distribution of the trust or restricted property to 
those entitled to receive it.
    PHD Headquarters office is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and 
field offices are located in Rapid City, South Dakota, Billings, 
Montana, Bloomington, Minnesota, Sacramento, California, and Oklahoma 
City, Oklahoma. In June 2015, the Administrative Law Judge based in the 
Oklahoma City office retired and all but one employee subsequently left 
OHA for other opportunities. The remaining employee, now an Indian 
Probate Judge, continued to serve the Oklahoma City office area, 
conducting hearings in Oklahoma City and at locations throughout the 
region depending on where potential heirs reside.
    In light of the Administrative Law Judge's retirement and the other 
staff departures, OHA plans to close the Oklahoma City office. The 
closure of the office will realize cost savings for the Federal 
Government and further promote the streamlining of operations. The IPJ 
will continue to serve the Oklahoma City office area from a home 
office, and she and other Ph.D. Judges will continue to conduct 
hearings in Oklahoma City and travel, as appropriate, to other areas 
served by the Oklahoma City office. OHA will continue to offer 
telephonic access to hearings so that people who do not live in the 
local area may participate in the hearings process without incurring 
travel expenses, if they so choose. OHA's goal is to make participation 
in probate hearings as convenient as possible and available to the 
greatest number of interested parties. The primary focus will be to 
hold in-person hearings locally, when practicable.
    Efforts to maintain the level of service have been ongoing since 
the departure of most of Oklahoma City's employees and will continue 
even with the closure of the physical office space. OHA is not aware of 
any complaints that case disposition productivity diminished during 
this transition, but, through this listening session, Tribes, 
individual Indians, and interested parties are provided an opportunity 
to submit insights and recommendations of how OHA can best maintain its 
level of service in the areas served by the Oklahoma City Ph.D. office.

    Authority:  212 DM 13.1

    Dated: May 22, 2017.
Janet H. Lin,
Deputy Director--Office of Hearings and Appeals.
[FR Doc. 2017-11186 Filed 5-30-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4334-63-P