Editorial: Questioning Alaska Native contracts

"Several Alaska Native firms have used generous federal contracting preferences to become prosperous multimillion-dollar enterprises. Some years, the total amount of federal contract payments to Native firms tops $1 billion. Of the 10 biggest Alaska-owned companies in Alaska Business Monthly's 2006 survey, seven were Alaska Native corporations. Federal contracts help those companies pay dividends to their Native shareholders and support charitable causes, often in economically distressed areas of the state.

Clearly, the federal bidding preferences are a good deal for the Native companies, their shareholders and their communities. It's not clear, however, that the American taxpayer is getting a good deal in return.

Case in point: a $475 million, nine-year border security contract, awarded without competitive bidding, to a subsidiary of the Native corporation in the village of Chenega Bay (population 69).

The Native American Contractors Association says "The Native 8(a) program is a rare Federal economic program that works."

As the stunning economic success of some Native corporations has shown, it works for the companies getting the contracts. Whether it works for the people who are paying the bills is a different question.

BOTTOM LINE: No wonder Congress is scrutinizing the federal contracting preferences for Alaska Native corporations."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Contract questions (The Anchorage Daily News 11/28)

Relevant Links:
Chenega Technology Services - http://www.chenegatechnology.com
Chenega Corporation - http://www.chenega.com

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