Pressure On Native 8-A programs
S.B.A. Makes Changes to 8-A programs As Some in D.C. Try To Eliminate Them
A new development in Washington may be affecting Alaska natives and the state's business community. For decades Alaska native corporations have had their geographic isolation tempered by a special preference for government contracts.
And after years of complaints about special treatment, the small business administration yesterday made changes to the program. Local native officials say the reforms are a step in the right direction.
The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation's Vice President of External Affairs Tara Sweeney told KTVA today, "We support having meaningful reforms that don't dismantle important Federal Indian policy like the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act."
Those reforms are designed to increase the transparency in the bid process and better track how the profits for those multi-billion dollar corporations are used to help the native people.
And while the reforms are enough for Alaska native corporations, some politicians in D.C. want to take it a step further and eliminate the 8-A preference all together. And that's something Alaska lawmakers say could end up freezing up federal dollars."
Two days ago Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson, proposed to eliminate the preferences for Alaska Native corporations in the program.
Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has a companion bill in the senate.
Proponents of the 8-a program say if it passes it would be a big economic blow to the state's rural residents.
Congressman Don Young's Communications Director, Meredith Kenny says, " We feel like Congressman Thompson is overreaching and overstepping his bounds is what it is. This is a program that works and this is a program that helps our people and if he has issues with this program then he should come and talk to us before he decides to introduce legislation on something he doesn't possibly fully understand."