Opinion: Contracts help Alaska Native people
"I believe it when Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) says her inquiry into the Alaska Native Corporations' (ANC) federal procurement preference is nothing personal.

As a former state auditor, the senator has a natural inclination to make sure Americans get the best value possible for their tax dollars. We applaud her efforts and fully support her quest for increased oversight.

That said, it was pretty obvious that the senator's mind was made up when she gaveled to order her Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight last Thursday. From her opening statement on, she indicated that she wants to significantly change the special provisions Congress gave the ANCs under the Small Business Administration's 8(a) program.

She appears ready to gut the one Native American program that actually works as Congress intended. Federal contracts provide critical socioeconomic benefits to Native Americans while delivering quality work at competitive rates to meet the demanding needs of the U.S. government in a timely manner.

Why Sen. McCaskill is focused on the tiny sliver of work the ANCs receive is a perplexing question. As she states on her website: "Claire believes that one way to reduce government spending is to target government contractors. Government contracting is a trillion dollar industry, but it has received little oversight in the past."

That's admirable, but the ANCs represent barely a full percentage decimal point on the overall scale of government contracting, and by all accounts, we're doing a good job. As Sen. Mark Begich testified: "This is one of the most successful programs this government has ever done.""

Get the Story:
Helvi Sandvik: Contracting lifts impoverished peoples (The Anchorage Daily News 7/23)

Committee Testimony:
Contracting Preferences for Alaska Native Corporations (July 16, 2009)

Committee Notice:

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