Alaska Native Corporations Under Scrutiny
Some long overdue scrutiny of ANCs is about to get intense.
Some of you may have seen some trend data recently. It came from the office of Sen.Claire McCaskill in anticipation of a hearing on July 16. Some of the salient points included in a statement her office released:
- "Between 2000 and 2008, contract awards to Alaska Native Corporations increased by $4.6 billion, from $508.4 million to $5.2 billion."
- "In percentage terms, ANC contract spending increased 915 percent
from 2000 to 2008, an average increase of 33.6 percent per year."
- "In total, ANCs received $23.8 billion in federal contracts between 2000 and 2008."
You may recall that ANCs occupy a very special place in the federal
procurement universe. Formed with the idea of settling native Alaska
claims against the federal government -- and helping Native Alaskans to
pull themselves out of poverty -- the firms qualify for extraordinary
set asides that transcend just about all others.
They're considered "small businesses" but there's no limit on the
size of contracts they can receive without competition. They can
operate anywhere, so many of them have operations in Washington and
across the rest of the lower 48. They often subcontract work on
intelligence, technology etc. to traditional Beltway companies. Critics
say they're used in effect as pass throughs.
It all adds up to a lot of questions about whether taxpayers are
getting what they pay for -- and whether all that money is really
helping the people who need it in Alaska.
From the McCaskill press release:
"This information shows that federal government contracts to ANCs
have increased dramatically and that ANCs have received a
disproportionate share of small business loans. The preliminary
analysis also indicates many ANCs are not based in Alaska and most of
the work awarded to ANCs, which primarily contract through the
Department of Defense, is not performed in Alaska at all."
By Robert O'Harrow |
June 29, 2009; 12:32 PM ET