indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Indian Law Online Master Degree
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Defense rider targets Alaska Native contracting
Monday, April 25, 2005

A rider tucked into the $81 billion defense appropriations bill approved by the Senate last week could limit the number of sole-source contracts for Alaska Native corporations and Indian-owned businesses.

In recent years, Alaska Native corporations have won billion-dollar contracts for defense and military work. Under a program meant to benefit minority and disadvantaged businesses, the contracts are awarded without opening them up to competitive bidding.

The program has drawn scrutiny in recent years among Democrats, labor unions and non-Indian businesses. But challenges to the sole-source contracting policy have been rejected in the courts.

Critics are now turning their eyes to Congress. Just last month, the leaders of a key House committee launched an investigation into Native contracting. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Virginia) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California) of the House Government Reform Committee say they are concerned that most of the work is being done not by Native corporations but by non-Indian subcontractors.

Sen. Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) has joined the effort, inserting a paragraph into the defense bill that targets this practice. Without mentioning Native corporations by name, the rider redefines the meaning of "prime contract" to include not just the corporations but their subcontractors. The change will impact how the government meets its overall minority contracting goals.

As written, the rider only applies to contracts awarded by the Department of Energy. Most of the large-dollar contracts won by Native corporations have come from the Department of Defense.

The House version of the bill doesn't include the language either. A joint House-Senate conference committee is meeting to hammer out the differences between the two versions.

Nevertheless, the Native American Contractors Association, a Washington, D.C.-based alliance of Native corporations, said it was worried about the rider. "NACA is concerned potential legislative actions may diminish current programs and negate the historical progress and positive effects of previous initiatives," the group said in a statement.

The scrutiny so far appears limited to Alaska Native corporations, some of which maintain close ties with powerful Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). It was Stevens who rewrote the Small Business Act to create the minority contracting program and exempt the corporations from limits on the size and dollar-value of the contracts.

But some Indian advocates fear tribal- and Indian-owned businesses in the lower 48 are at risk. In a recent Indian Country Today editorial, Pete Homer, the president of the National Indian Business Association, called the Congressional inquiry an "attack" on Indian economic development.

"The issue of any 'special' federal contracting incentives for American Indians and Alaska Natives continues to be one of a lack of education for the general public, non-Native business owners and, to a large extent, Congress," Homer said. "Tribes are not a minority group, but sovereign nations that have a unique relationship with the federal government that is defined and protected by constitutional law -- the legal basis for federal programs for Indians."

This rationale was upheld in a case that originated from Domenici's home state. A $170 million defense contract awarded to two Alaska Native corporations came under fire but the courts said the Stevens program was legal. The U.S. Supreme Court later rejected an appeal of the case

The decision hasn't stopped criticism of the program. Last year, two Alaska Native corporations won sole-source defense contracts worth up to $500 million after they partnered with large non-Native companies that would have had to otherwise compete for the work or may have not been eligible for the work on their own.

Despite the focus on sole-source contracts, Native firms have been able to secure work through competitive bidding. In 2002, a Chugach subsidiary won a $2.5 billion contract -- to be shared with two partners -- for public works, engineering, aviation and marine-support services at a missile testing facility in the South Pacific.

The language in the Senate version of the appropriations bill reads as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY SMALL BUSINESS CONTRACTS

SEC. 6023. Section 15(g) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. Sec. 644), is amended by adding the following new paragraph:

`(3) For purposes of this section, the term `prime contract' shall, with respect to the Department of Energy, mean prime contracts awarded by the Department of Energy, and subcontracts awarded by Department of Energy management and operating contractors, management and integration contractors, major facilities management contractors, and contractors that have entered into similar contracts for management of a departmental facility. Contracting goals established for the Department of Energy under this section shall be set at a level not greater than the applicable Government-wide goal.'.

Section 15g is important because it defines the goals of government contracting to "small business concerns owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and small business concerns owned and controlled by women." By counting contractors and subcontractors as required by the Domenici rider, the goals for minority contracting would be met quicker.

Get the Bill:
H.R.1268

House Government Reform Committee Letters:
To General Accountability Office | To Defense, Homeland Security and State Departments

Relevant Links:
Native American Contractors Association - http://www.nativeamericancontractors.org

Related Stories:
Opinion: Congressional probe will hurt Indian business (03/21)
Alaska Native corporation contracts under scrutiny (03/07)
Non-Native companies benefit from Native contracting (08/13)
Alaska Native subsidiary wins defense contract (06/29)
Alaska Native subsidiary awarded NASA contract (06/25)
Native firm leases Stevens building for $6M (12/18)
Supreme Court rejects appeal of Native preference case (12/16)
Court rejects union claim against Native contract (06/09)
Native corp close to $2.5B contract (09/09)
Alaska Native deal criticized (6/14)
Native Corp. survives bankruptcy (5/30)

Copyright 2000-2005 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribes walk out of contract support cost meeting (8/29)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne Tribe spends $2.4M on property (8/29)
Mike Johanns: Retracing steps of great Ponca Chief Standing Bear (8/29)
Steven Newcomb: Racist mascot a sign of deeper problems in US (8/29)
Lauren Jones: Affordable Care Act benefits Native Americans too (8/29)
Gila River Indian Community to see $77.6M from Cobell buy-back (8/29)
Energy boom linked to rise in human trafficking in Indian Country (8/29)
Navajo man heads up Native American Homelessness Task Force (8/29)
9th Circuit hears case over Yakama Nation tobacco manufacturer (8/29)
WAER: ICWA matters handled in 'kangaroo courts' in South Dakota (8/29)
MPR: Red Lake Nation opposes liquor license near dry reservation (8/29)
Tule River Tribe helps remove marijuana operation on reservation (8/29)
Omaha Tribe signs agreement with EPA to improve utility services (8/29)
Las Vegas Paiute Tribe rejected 'gift' from NFL team's foundation (8/29)
KPLU: Spokane Tribe maintains close ties with baseball franchise (8/29)
Opinion: HUD loan program a small step to boost Indian housing (8/29)
DNA study finds distinct population of Native people in Arctic area (8/29)
Tribes closely watching Big Lagoon Rancheria casino land dispute (8/29)
Tohono O'odham Nation to build off-reservation casino in phases (8/29)
State questions Forest County Powatatomi Tribe's slot machines (8/29)
Quapaw Tribe eyes local support for commercial casino in Kansas (8/29)
Native Sun News: Police officers who shot Indian teen get medals (8/28)
Cara Cowan Watts: Laying the groundwork for college scholarship (8/28)
Rudolph Ryser: Indigenous nations need leverage to bring change (8/28)
DOI extends $100M in Cobell buy-back offers on two reservations (8/28)
Cobell buy-backs could return over 38K acres to tribe in Montana (8/28)
Five-year-old Navajo boy sent home from school for his long hair (8/28)
Three charged with murder for death of Mississippi Choctaw man (8/28)
Lummi Nation seeks cooperation after ruling in treaty rights case (8/28)
Artist Gregg Deal takes on Indian mascots for performance piece (8/28)
Sports announcer won't use Washington NFL team's name on air (8/28)
Recruiter from Spokane Tribe's college selected for Peirone Prize (8/28)
California tribes support release of water to benefit salmon runs (8/28)
Southern Ute Tribe invests $2B in big energy production system (8/28)
County hires lobbying firm to oppose federal recognition reforms (8/28)
Tohono O'odham Nation breaks ground for off-reservation casino (8/28)
Cherokee Nation starts construction on casino at Indian allotment (8/28)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe responds to opponents in casino suit (8/28)
Jamul Band continues work on $360M casino after victory in court (8/28)
Editorial: Forest County Potawatomi Tribe ups ante in casino feud (8/28)
Ho-Chunk Nation launches outreach effort amid casino expansion (8/28)
Nebraska Supreme Court hears arguments over gaming initiative (8/28)
Tim Giago: Greedy lawyers and government ruin Cobell settlement (8/27)
Native Sun News: Facility in Montana set to house Indian inmates (8/27)
Gerald Gipp: National strategy needed to reform Indian education (8/27)
9th Circuit won't stop repatriation of Kumeyaay Nation ancestors (8/27)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation puts youth to work for summer (8/27)
Gabe Galanda: Academia won't tackle tribal disenrollment issue (8/27)
Misty Lynn Ellingburg: 'Four Winds' is a literary magazine for us (8/27)
Declination rates for Indian Country crime steady for third year (8/27)
DOJ awards grants to address violence in Bakken energy region (8/27)
Another pipeline spills saltwater on reservation in North Dakota (8/27)
Navajo voters oust incumbent president Ben Shelly in primary (8/27)
Once rival factions of Chukchansi Tribe agree to 2015 election (8/27)
Three brothers on the ballot for Passamaquoddy Tribe election (8/27)
Daily Beast: Border Patrol runs free on Tohono O'odham Nation (8/27)
KTOO: Cook Inlet Tribe turns to video game to represent culture (8/27)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.