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Sen. McCaskill seeks information about Alaska Native contracts

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) campaigns in the Native village of Napaskiak. Photo from Facebook

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) is once again raising questions about Alaska Native corporations that do business with the federal government.

McCaskill asked the Small Business Administration for information about federal contracts awarded to Alaska Native corporations between March 2011 and the present. She wants to know how communities in Alaska are benefiting from the 8(a) program.

"In 2009, I held a hearing that highlighted my concerns about ANCs' participation in the 8(a) program, including a lack of oversight by SBA, the use of ANCs to circumvent the federal contracting process, and that the benefits were not reaching disadvantaged Alaskan natives," McCaskill wrote in the June 30 letter.

The letter prompted a rebuke from Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who sits on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. He accused McCaskill of singling out Alaska Native corporations because they have been successful.

“I’m afraid my colleague, Sen. McCaskill — through her narrow lens as a ‘government oversight and efficiencies guru’ — has trouble understanding Alaska history, even with my repeated attempts to reason with her,” Begich said in a statement, according to news reports.

In 2011, the SBA finalized rules that require tribes and Native contractors to submit reports "identifying how its 8(a) participation has benefited the Tribal or native members and/or the Tribal, native or other community," according to a notice that was published in the Federal Register at the time.

Additionally, Congress added Section 811 to the fiscal year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act to require higher-level approvals for sole-source contracts above $20 million. Kevin Allis, the executive director of the Native American Contractors Association, said the change has led to a 60 percent drop in those types of contracts for tribes and Alaska Natives.

Get the Story:
Begich, McCaskill battle again over 8(a) contract preferences (The Alaska Dispatch 7/2)
Mark Begich: Claire McCaskill doesn’t understand (Politico 7/2)
Begich Slams McCaskill in Feud Over Alaska Native Corporations (Roll Call 7/2)
Democrat Begich personally attacks Democrat McCaskill over ‘misguided efforts’ (The Washington Post 7/3)
U.S. Senator still after ANC contracting advantages (Alaska Public Radio Network 7/3)

Federal Register Notice:
Small Business Size Regulations; 8(a) Business Development/Small Disadvantaged Business Status Determinations (February 11, 2011)

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Democrats hoping to capture Alaska Native vote in Senate race (6/30)