U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) plans to introduce a bill this week eliminating the advantage of Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) in obtaining billions of dollars worth in federal contracts through the Small Business Administration 8(a) program, reports the Associated Press.
McCaskill’s proposal to cap the no-limit grants through the SBA program, designed to help small, disadvantaged firms, would sever the unprecedented edge enjoyed by ANCs since 1986 – benefits pushed through Congress at the urging on then-Alaskan Sen. Ted Stevens.
McCaskill Spokeswoman Maria Speiser said the corporations would still be able to receive no-bid contracts with caps in place: $5.5 million for goods and $3.5 million for services. Larger contracts would require competition.
Under McCaskill's regulations, Native corporations would need to meet the same qualifications as other program participants, such as designation as socially disadvantaged business enterprises. Business size would also undergo tighter scrutiny (McCaskill thinks some Native corporations are too large to qualify as small businesses).
McCaskill, a former auditor, has alleged Native shareholders only receivie a small percentage of the companies' profits. Supporting her accusation, a several months-long investigative series by The Washington Post exposed years of allegations of SBA-contract abuse by tribal businesses and ANCs, highlighting the millions of taxpayer dollars funneled to non-native executives and companies.
“Two groups of people are getting screwed by the [SBA] program,” McCaskill told The Washington Post, “many Alaska natives who are not getting their fair share, and the American taxpayers.”