Bryan Rice, the director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, has abruptly resigned after only six months on the job, HuffPost reported Thursday.
The agency refused to comment on the departure.
Rice, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, was a veteran official at the Bureau of Indian Affairs before his appointment as the bureau’s director in October.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is part of the Interior Department, handles government relations between the federal government and 573 federally recognized tribes.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke praised Rice’s “wealth of management expertise and experience” upon his appointment.
“I have full confidence that Bryan is the right person at this pivotal time as we work to renew the department’s focus on self-determination and self-governance, give power back to the tribes, and provide real meaning to the concept of tribal sovereignty,” Zinke said.
The resignation comes roughly two weeks after the agency’s internal watchdog concluded that poor Interior Department staff record keeping made it impossible to determine if the reassignment of dozens of senior agency staff last year was legal. Nearly a third of the transferred staffers were Native American, Talking Points Memo reported.