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Doyon prepares candidate report cards for Fairbanks mayoral race

September 15th, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


Doyon_report_card(from Doyon.com)  In preparation for the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) mayoral election on October 6, Doyon recently distributed a questionnaire to the six mayoral candidates and prepared a report card based on all candidates’ responses to questions on topics including taxes, the economy, education, villages issues, and Alaska Native business involvement in FNSB discussions and decisions. The report card, which is part of Doyon’s Get Out the Native Vote initiative, is intended to educate voters on the issues and candidates, and encourage voters to “voice their choice” in the election next month. For the full report card, including candidates’ comments, click here to download.

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News heats up prior to Hearing

July 15th, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


From local news in Anchorage, Alaska to “Roll Call” in Washington D.C., the media is talking about the upcoming Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. Tex Hall writes “McCaskill Hearing an Opportunity to Educate on American History” on Roll Call. Also, an interesting Editorial by Washington Technology.

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Hearing scheduled for 2:30 pm ET tomorrow

July 15th, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


Contracting Preferences for Alaska Native Corporations

committee_banner

Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight

Thursday, July 16, 2009

02:30 PM

Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 342

The preference given Alaska Native Corporations in federal procurement was intended to provide economic opportunities for impoverished Alaskan communities. But it has become a vehicle for avoiding competition and passing work through to large, non-Native contractors. In 2006, GAO called the provisions an “open checkbook.” The hearing will examine new findings from federal auditors and explore potential abuses in the award, management, and oversight of these contract vehicles. FOR WITNESS LIST, CLICK CONTINUE. CONTINUE »

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“Native 8(a) Works” is in DC for Hearing

July 14th, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


native8aworks_logoOn Thursday, July 16, the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight will hold a hearing on Alaska’s Native corporations (ANC) and the SBA 8(a) program.  Chair of the Committee, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri began investigating ANCs earlier in the year.  On June 23, her committee released a preliminary analysis of publicly-available data about contracts awarded to ANCs from 2000 through 2008.

Today, a coalition of entities representing “Native Business” was in Washington D.C. in support of the Native SBA 8(a) program.  The group is called “Native 8(a) Works” and includes four Alaska Native Corporations as members.  These inlcude Afognak Native Corp., Chenega Corp., Chugach Alaska Corp. and NANA. CONTINUE »

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Senator Begich speaks about ANC SBA 8(a) program

July 7th, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


sen_claire2senbegichAccording to a good article by Tim Bradner of the Alaska Journal of Commerce, Senator Mark Begich has “been invited to participate in the session in the Senate Subcommittee on Contract Oversight, lead by Sen. Claire McCaskill. The senate hearing on Alaska Native Corporations is planned for July 16th.

“The 8(a) corporations have done a good job in responding to questions from the committee, and Sen. McCaskill has given them more time to provide information, which was done at our request,” Begich said.

To aid the committee’s inquiry, Begich said the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research is compiling historical data on personal incomes and poverty levels in several small villages that have also become major players in 8(a) contracting to compare local economic conditions before and after corporations began federal contracting work.

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Don Young pulls “Prohibition on No-Bid Contracts” language from Stimulus Bill

February 17th, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


Don YoungAccording to the Congressman’s news release “The Senate version of H.R. 1 (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.) included a provision that appeared to prohibit the use of programs administered by the SBA that are designed for procurement through minority-owned business enterprises, women-owned businesses, Veteran and Service Disabled Veteran programs, HUBZone and Small Business Administration 8(a) programs.  Rep. Young worked with Members on the other side of the aisle to make the case for these programs, and was able to get the provision pulled from the bill.

“I was approached by members of the Alaskan Federation of Native with concerns about this provision,” said Rep. Young.  “I told them that no matter if I supported this bill or not, I would make sure they were not hurt by it.  These programs are a success and are working just as Congress intended.

“These programs” include the successful ANC SBA 8(a) program.  Here is the actual provision removed.

PROHIBITION ON NO-BID CONTRACTS AND EARMARKS

Sec. 1608. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to make any payment in connection with a contract unless the contract is awarded using competitive procedures in accordance with the requirements of section 303 of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (41 U.S.C. 253), section 2304 of title 10, United States Code, and the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be awarded by grant or cooperative agreement unless the process used to award such grant or cooperative agreement uses competitive procedures to select the grantee or award recipient.

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Alaska Native Corporations may lose advocate in Senator Stevens

October 29th, 2008 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


The New York Times



October 30, 2008

Facing a Loss in Alaska

The Alaska Native corporations have had Senator Ted Stevens to thank nearly every step of the way.

In 1971, a few years after he was first elected to the Senate, Mr. Stevens helped write the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Also known as the “Billion Dollar Deal,” the act established more than 200 corporations to manage almost 45 million acres and gave $962 million to Alaska Natives in return for their ceding of all aboriginal land rights.

When the Alaska Native corporations struggled in their early years as they tried to turn people who had survived on fishing and hunting into business managers and to teach thousands of villagers to call themselves shareholders, Senator Stevens was there, too.

He helped corporations with financial difficulties by persuading Congress to approve a provision in the 1986 Tax Reform Act allowing the corporations to sell their accumulated tax losses to profitable companies seeking tax write-offs.

That same year, Senator Stevens introduced legislation that allowed Alaska Native corporations to participate in a Small Business Administration 8(a) contracting program, a provision that has proven lucrative to many of them.

And just a month ago, in the wake of questions that some of the corporations were misusing the contracting program, he successfully pushed Congress to remove a provision from the 2009 Defense Authorization Act that would have limited their access.

After his conviction on Monday on charges he violated federal ethics laws by failing to report tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and services he had received from friends, Senator Stevens’s future in Congress is uncertain.

But Louis A. Thompson, 72, who has run one of the corporations, Kavilco Inc., for 36 years, said the companies had grown into sophisticated operations that could stand on their own. “Senator Stevens was very helpful early on and not just to Alaska Native corporations, to all Alaskans,” he said. “But times have changed.”

Indeed, the Alaska Native corporations have made strides since the early days, when they built seafood plants before negotiating for fish deliveries and constructed hotels in remote villages that had never seen tourists. Today, they consistently rank among state’s largest businesses. The small-business 8(a) contracting program has been important to that success.

As of May, 187 Alaska Native-owned companies were participating in the 8(a) program, according to a report by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General. From 2000 to 2006, Alaska Native corporations won nearly $13 billion in federal contracts.

Maver E. Carey, 41, the leader of one of those corporations, sees the federal contracts as the future of her business. And other small corporations are looking to her to help them navigate the complicated and expensive path to federal business.

Her enterprise, the Kuskokwim Corporation, represents Aniak and nine other remote Alaska communities. Its responsibilities cover a geographic area larger than New England, but without cellphone towers, major road systems or many jobs. “In Kalskag, one of our largest villages, there are 80 homes and 40 of them don’t have running water,” Ms. Carey said.

Kuskokwim’s 2,903 shareholders want regular corporate dividends, and many also seek educational and employment opportunities from the corporation.

Kuskokwim was founded in 1977 when 10 village corporations decided that they did not have the staff or resources to build businesses alone. The merged entity formed a headquarters in Anchorage and eked out dividends primarily through investments in Alaska real estate and a conservative portfolio of stocks and bonds.

Ms. Carey, whose maternal grandparents are Yupik Eskimo and Athabascan Indian, turned to Kuskokwim in 1994 after earning a college degree, working for an engineering firm and being laid off. “My village corporation offered me $9 an hour and I took it thinking I’d continue to look for a real job,” she said. By 2003, after she had worked in every corporate department, the board asked her to become the chief executive.

She pushed diversification, with a goal of building Kuskokwim’s shareholder equity to $100 million by 2015. Last year, it topped $18 million, up from $14 million in 2006. In 2005, the company started TKC Development Inc. to focus on federal contracting. TKC subsidiaries have won work from the United States Navy and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Last year, Ms. Carey started an Alaska Native village corporation association. Her inspiration came from conversations with other chief executives facing challenges similar to her own. A membership drive under way has registered about 50 Native corporation executives.

Their goal is to be as successful as the Afognak Native Corporation, one of Alaska’s largest businesses. Afognak is owned by 700 shareholders descended from the Alutiiq people of the Kodiak Archipelago. In 2006, its profits reached $18.8 million on revenue of $537.9 million, the latest figures available. That year, each shareholder received a dividend payment of $21,688. Afognak employs 5,000 people globally, and about 50 of them are shareholders.

Afognak is now run by a non-native chief executive with significant government experience. It won the first of its major contracts in 2000, when it secured a deal to operate Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. In recent years, it has won a contract to build a brigade combat team complex worth more than $100 million at Fort Bragg, N.C., and another worth more than $50 million to renovate the United States Embassy in São Paulo.

Still, there have been questions about the 8(a) contracts that have gone to Afognak and other Alaska Native companies. A 2006 study by the federal Government Accountability Office called for better S.B.A. supervision of Alaska Native corporations that hold 8(a) contracts. The agency’s inspector general is currently conducting an audit of S.B.A. oversight of 10 to 15 of the largest Alaska Native corporations engaged in federal contracting.

In August, it found that two companies, Goldbelt Raven L.L.C., owned by Goldbelt Inc. of Juneau, and APM L.L.C., a subsidiary of the Cape Fox Corporation of Ketchikan, violated terms of the contracting program by entering into agreements that resulted in millions of dollars in 8(a) revenues being paid to companies owned by non-native managers. The administration suspended them from the program and moved to end their eligibility. Both companies are appealing the move, according to officials representing Goldbelt and APM.

Steve Colt, the interim director at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at University of Alaska, who has studied Alaska Native corporations, said that many of the corporations struggled to stay afloat in their first two decades of operations and that Mr. Stevens and the rest of the Alaska delegation worked hard to keep them in business.

“If you look at the historical record, there were lots of incidents of Stevens being very helpful to Alaska Native corporations,” Mr. Colt said. “But I suspect that the number of assists has decreased over time.” He predicted that whoever holds the United States Senate seat for Alaska in the future will fight for legislation that protects Alaska Native corporations because they now have a major impact on the state’s economy.

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Julie Kitka defends success of SBA 8(a) program; asks ADN to retract editorial

October 16th, 2008 Posted By: Morgan Howard 2 Comments


Economy, Native businesses succeed together

An editorial in the Anchorage Daily News on Oct. 7 (“No-Bid Preferences”) irresponsibly indicts Alaska Natives for the alleged impropriety of two companies associated with a recent and isolated Food & Drug administration government contract.  It also illustrates a fundamental misunderstanding of our history, the work of our business leaders and employees, our contribution to our country and the greater Alaska economy.

The U.S. Congress settled the land claims of Alaska Natives on Dec.18, 1971. The settlement was the largest, most complex Indian land settlement in the history of the United States. In addition to retaining 44 million acres of our original homeland, the Congress authorized Alaska Natives to organize and set up corporations to hold our land and resources. Our Native people were each issued 100 shares of stock in the newly formed Native corporations. We became shareholders and had to learn quickly what that meant and what the corporate structure was all about.

It is 37 years since the initial settlement and we have gained an incredible amount of experience with the corporate structure, with economic decision-making and competing in our rapidly changing capitalistic society. Over the years, we have made mistakes and we have learned. Now, many of our Native corporations are very successful. We have Alaska Native people at the helms of these economic engines. We are proud to contribute to both the Alaska and U.S. economy in significant ways.
The Anchorage Daily News editorial on government contracting was a huge disappointment to us. First of all, it tarred and feathered us all. It did not distinguish between our companies who are working hard and delivering real value and savings to the U.S. government — following the rules and exceeding government standards and expectations — and those few who may have made a mistake and must be accountable for their actions.

Congress authorized and required us to use corporations to implement our settlement. And Congress authorized Alaska Natives to participate in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Businesses Development Program. The purpose of the U.S. national Indian policy in the 8(a) program was to allow our businesses to participate in the work the government was contracting out to the private sector. It was to allow our Native shareholders to benefit from our successful completion of government work, which met strict standards. If we were not successful in delivering quality work on time, within budget and within appropriate standards to the government, we would not be successful in competing for other work. This 8(a) government contracting is not a handout.

In many ways, Alaska Native corporations cannot be compared to any other business in America. The U.S. Congress created a vast experiment in 1971 and its success and failures have never been fully documented.  When I talk to respected individuals around the world, they are amazed by what has happened with our land claims. For example, Hernando de Soto, a world renowned Peruvian economist told us this: “Alaska Natives are living proof that life is not a roll of the dice, harsh and brutal.  Government can set in place policies and structures to allow people to help themselves”. When de Soto told us this I was amazed — someone saw what was happening in Alaska. He saw how hard the Alaska Native community was working to make our land settlement a success; he saw how we have shaped the corporate structure with our own values and culture; and saw that we are a contributing member of society.

The 8(a) program is allowing Native Americans, including Alaska Natives, to help ourselves and contribute here in Alaska and across the country. Unlike other 8(a) businesses that are individually owned, Alaska Native corporations are charged with the monumental task of lifting entire communities — representing hundreds, and often thousands of disadvantaged individuals. Therefore, placing caps on awards Alaska Native corporations receive through the 8(a) program or eliminating our corporations’ ability to create subsidiaries with the 8(a) program would suffocate the ability of our corporations to build capacity and expertise which is needed to compete in the global economy and greatly reduce the dividends, scholarships and our efforts to lift our people out of poverty. It would turn the clock back on the very people our government reached out to help.

As with industry, Alaska Native corporations that do not follow the rules and regulations of the 8(a) program must be disciplined individually — not collectively.  The Anchorage Daily News’ advocacy for collective punishment of all our corporations would condemn the entire Alaska Native population to further reliance on the American taxpayer, rather than furthering the cause of self-determination and economic independence.

Alaska Native businesses support 20 percent of Alaska’s population. In 2006, they generated a combined payroll of $695.25 million to over 15,000 Alaska employees, over $1.11 billion in payroll to almost 40,000 employees worldwide, and paid over $60 million in federal taxes. Progress has been made, but much more must be done. Dramatic economic disparity between Alaska Natives and other Americans still exists and must be overcome. Disparities continue in education, in health and life expectancy, even infant mortality. The Alaska Native leadership is committed to doing everything we can to eliminate the disparity in life opportunities and create a chance for every child to have a healthy and productive future.

It is unfair and irresponsible for your paper to call for sweeping changes to a government initiative which is working. On behalf of the Alaska Native leadership, we ask the Anchorage Daily News to retract their editorial and provide us an opportunity to meet to discuss your concerns.
Julie Kitka is president of the Alaska Federation of Natives

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Calista Corporation’s contract suspended due to Washington Post investigation

October 4th, 2008 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


FDA Takes End Run to Award Contract to PR Firm

By Robert O’Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 2, 2008; A01

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had an image problem. For months last year the agency had been pummeled by Congress for poor inspections of tainted vegetables, drugs and other products.

FDA leaders decided to hire a contractor for a public relations campaign that would “create and foster a lasting positive public image of the agency for the American public,” according to agency documents.

A competition, as prescribed by government policy, was not held to get the lowest bid for the $300,000 contract. Instead, FDA officials came up with a plan to ensure the work would go to a Washington public relations firm with ties to the FDA official arranging the deal, according to an examination by The Washington Post.

The plan used a circuitous route around the standard government contracting procedures. The contract was awarded in July to Alaska Newspapers Inc., a firm owned by an Alaska Native corporation that does not have to compete for federal work because it qualifies for special set-asides. The idea was for ANI to hand over the work to Qorvis Communications, the Washington firm, documents show. CONTINUE »

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