Column: Alaska Natives abuse minority contracting

Ed. Note: Harry C. Alford is the President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

"For each program designed to implement Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (affirmative action), there are attempts to front or commit fraud and abuse of such programs. Usually a front operation has a Black acting as if he has majority ownership and management when the real operators are behind the scenes and very much Caucasian. Most of this activity happens at the local level as the penalties for committing federal fraud are certain and hard; 3-5 years in federal prison is not out of the ordinary.

However, with the coming of high-powered, very slick lobbying firms in Washington, D.C. a new era has come to be. The 8a program, which is the best federal affirmative action program in existence, has now been infiltrated. Congress, the Congressional Black Caucus included, has allowed lobbyists to get some of their high-powered Caucasian clients into the 8a program by representing themselves as Alaska Native corporations. That's right, ANC's have 8a benefits and they don't have to actually be Alaskan Natives. They don't have to be small or disadvantaged, either. In fact, most ANC's are businesses approaching a billion dollars in annual revenue. They sit back in the offices of their D.C. lobbyist and "cherry pick" federal contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars or even $1 billion-plus. Remember, these dollars are credited as minority dollars and, in effect, are taken from the pools set aside for real minorities such as Blacks, Hispanics, etc.

Keep in mind that real Native Americans still have to apply to get into the 8a program and meet stringent certification. They have to show that they live as American Indians such as on a reservation or culturally live as an Apache, Cherokee, etc. But the ANC's only have to have a subsidiary of their corporation show a paper relationship with some tribe in Alaska such as giving a small portion of the net profits to help the tribe. It is less than pennies on the dollar. What the lobbyists have created with the ANC program is a genuine license to steal federal contracts from bona fide and qualified minority businesses. They are not minority and they are not small (free to have large contracts as opposed to legitimate 8a firms)."

Get the Story:
Harry C. Alford: Taking Advantage of the Disadvantaged (The Louisiana Weekly 11/13)

GAO Report "Contract Management: Increased Use of Alaska Native Corporations� Special 8(a) Provisions Calls for Tailored Oversight":
Abstract | Highlights | Full Report

Relevant Links:
Native American Contractors Association - http://www.nativeamericancontractors.org
House Committee on Government Reform - http://reform.house.gov

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