Civil Penalties

Civil penalties may be assessed against any museum that fails to comply with the requirements of NAGPRA. A museum means any institution or State or local government agency (including any institution of higher learning) that has possession of, or control over, human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony and receives Federal funds. [43 CFR 10.2(a)(3)]

Who can allege a failture to comply?
Any person can allege a failure.

How do I report a failure to comply with NAGPRA?
Allegations must be in writing, and should identify the failure to comply and provide supporting facts. Documentation should include evidence that the museum has possession or control of Native American cultural items, receives Federal funds, and has failed to comply with specific provisions of the Act.

What will occur after my allegation is received?
The NAGPRA Enforcement Coordinator will acknowledge receipt of the allegation to the complainant and coordinate an investigation of the facts involved.

What happens after the investigation is complete?
The Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks will notify the museum of the results of the investigation, with a copy sent to the complainant. The Assistant Secretary may determine that the museum has failed to comply with NAGPRA or that the evidence does not support the allegation.

What if my museum is out of compliance?
Any museum that believes its compliance with NAGPRA is in question may contact the Manager of the National NAGPRA Program to request technical assistance to ensure the museum meets its statutory and regulatory responsibilities. While subsequent compliance will not affect an investigation of any allegation that the museum previously failed to comply, such efforts to mitigate the violation may be taken into account by the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks in determining the penalty amount or whether a civil penalty is an appropriate remedy.

What options are available to a museum that receives a written notice of failure to comply?
A museum that receives a notice of failure to comply may:

1. Request informal discussions. The request for informal discussions should be made to the Enforcement Coordinator in the National NAGPRA Program in writing, and must be received within 45 days of the museum’s receipt of the written notice of failure to comply. Informal resolutions arrived at by the museum and the Enforcement Coordinator are subject to approval from the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks as a final disposition of the matter.

2. Request an administrative hearing on the determination of failure to comply.

3. Take no action and await the notice of assessment of a civil penalty.


What options are available to a museum that is assessed a civil penalty?
The Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks determines if a penalty will be assessed after completing informal discussions or when the period for requesting a hearing expires. If a penalty will be assessed, the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks determines the penalty amount and sends the notice of assessment to the museum.

A museum that receives a notice of assessment has one of four choices

1. The museum may accept the proposed penalty and pay the penalty as assessed.

2. The museum may request informal discussions with the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

3. The museum may file a petition for relief to the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

4. The museum may request an administrative hearing on the amount of the penalty.


What is informal discussion and who do I contact?
Informal discussion after a notice of failure to comply or notice of assessment is generally between the museum officials and a representative for the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. Before a failure to comply occurs museums can contact the National NAGPRA Program for technical assistance.

Last updated: September 24, 2019

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