Feds plan to change Native contracting rules

Anchorage, Alaska (AP) 11-09

Alaska Native corporations will find out soon how the federal government plans to change contracting procedures.

Small Business Administration officials attending the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Anchorage said that the publication of proposed changes would start a 60-day comment period.

SBA attorney John Klein told The Anchorage Daily News that one change will involve how minority-owned firms team with non-minority firms to win federal contracts. He said the changes are meant to prevent abuse in joint ventures.

The proposed changes are coming just months after U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., launched an investigation of Native firms’ contracting privileges. Her investigation found that Native companies landed nearly $24 billion in work over the past eight years, often without competitive bidding.

It’s frustrating that the Native firms are getting criticized now that they are generating revenue from federal contracting, said Maver Carey, president of The Kuskokwim Corp., a village corporation based in Bethel.

Carey said his company has been working with villages in the Kuskokwim region to show them how they can benefit from contracting opportunities. This week, Carey took several SBA officials on a tour of Kalskag, one of the poorest villages in her region.

SBA director of Native American Affairs Clara Pratte said contracting could be an economic boon for Alaska villages, because she noticed only five full-time jobs in Kalskag.