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
Previous: GAO: Radiation Detectors Not Worth It | Next: SAIC, Other Contractors Allegedly Conspired on $3.2 Billion Deal

Comments

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Folks,

What evereyone is missing here is that those contracts are not going to the corporate "greed pot" in NYC.

These funds are providing needed benefits to native Alaskan.

If the critics actually went to the rural parts of Alaska and see what good these contracts are actually doing they would see this in a different light.

Apparently, everyone forgets that the taxpayers got a lot of land in Alaska from the native Alaskans on the cheap but now they don't want to complete this program of supporting the state.

But then again we have seen this before if poliical "theater" can be obtained at someone's expense, why should a politician or a journalist care about poverty and real solutions for Americans.

Isn't easier to blame those sole source " other folks" during a time of economic downturns than face the facts?

Didn't they do this after WWI somewhere or was it Salem?

Posted by: jfn2 | June 30, 2009 9:56 AM

More of the same from Corporate America. It's disheartening to see such profit-seeking behavior, especially in pristine Alaska.

The least we can do is cast a vote on the sleaziest corporations of 2009 (trust me, it's cathartic):

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2215/t/8981/signUp.jsp?key=4268&tag=CHOS09ref-comment

Posted by: press2 | June 30, 2009 2:23 PM

To commenter "jfn2" on June 30: Let the Lord have mercy on American taxpayers if the excessively large ANC contracts and other Big spending in AK (with its noxious politics) are considered anyone's solution to "poverty." That's nuts. Yup, our nation still owes Native Americans and Aleuts some compensation, as all of the gazillions already spent may not be enough. The millions per person is staggering, though. But where does it go? Why is there not more trickle-down in AK or the reservations? Who is driving the Big Mercedes? The ANC contracts are not charity, although some may think it is an entitlement. Also note that many Big Businesses, such as the major firms in security and log. management, are eager subcontractors to the ANCs. Finally, the ANCs' procurement preference, though a legitimate story, is very old news in the fed acquisition arena, the place where time stands still. It is truly an inherently governmental phenom.

Posted by: axolotl | June 30, 2009 8:30 PM

This seems to be an alarming increase in procurements. Don't scream bias here,for any state including the lower 48, certain checks and balances need to be set in motion. That percentage of escalation is mind boggling...justified or not, it certainly screams "look at this!"

Governor Palin should be leading the march in her beloved state of Alaska towards monitoring the extreme awards and/or streamlining the appropriations,at the very least and most self-serving reasons,to increase her credibility and good standing among the constituency, preparing herself for her supposed run for President (lol) in 2012.

That accomplishment could help support her claim as a well informed leader with a well executed political leadership record in Alaska. Something solid to stand on.

While the governors of the lower 48 work together to better our country and their respective states, Palin chooses to put herself in the media limelight by a ridiculous "challenge" to a foot race against President Obama. Come on, people! This is folly at a time when we need serious action. She is all Show and no Know.

Who CARES if she is easy on the eyes? When did that become a requisite for the Presidency? I'll take Hilary's intellect and expertise along with her acerbic nature ANY DAY over Palin. BEAUTY IS AS BEAUTY DOES.

Apparently, in Palin's arena, 'folks' this is REAL politics, you betcha.

Posted by: rjs_donal | July 2, 2009 12:08 PM

I've worked alongside a whole bunch of "Alaska Native Contractors." And I've yet to meet an actual Alaska Native. I'd be shocked if as much as 0.1% of the money we pour into those contracts EVER made it within sight of a Native Alaskan reservation.

These ANC pass-through deals are the ultimate "no bid" contracts, with no discernible benefit to the people they were meant to help (but lots of benefit to the usual Beltway Bandit suspects). It's about time this much-abused contract mechanism got some exposure in the press.

Posted by: DupontJay | July 2, 2009 5:19 PM

As the owner of a small business i find it very difficult to compete against Multi billion dollar small businesses for federal work.
If the ANC's were doing work in Alaska and hiring native alaskan's i would feel better about this, but, I've seen the ANC's up close and personal. Aside from a thin skin of Directors in Alaska, the ANC's are 100% white americans and large business subcontractors.

Posted by: patb | July 2, 2009 6:01 PM

SET ASIDE CONTRACTS:
THERE IS NOTHING NEW ABOUT THIS. WHEN CONGRESS PASSES LEGISLATION THEY ALWAYS LEAVE ROOM FOR GREED.
WHEN THE MINORITY SET ASIDES WERE LEGISTATED TO BENEFIT MINORITY AND WOMEN CONTRACTORS, WHITE CONTRACTORS WHO WOULD NOT HIRE MINORITY NOR WOMEN CONTRACTORS CAME OUT OF THE WOODWORK.

THE NEW CONTRACTORS DID NOT HAVE START UP MONEY NOR EQUIPMENT TO GET THE CONTRACTS. IN COMES THE HELPFUL GUYS WHO, PARTNERED WITH THE MINORITY CONTRACTORS BY MAKING THEM SUB-CONTRACTORS. THIS ALLOWED THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY THE PRIMARY CONTRACTOR. THE MINORITY SUB-CONTRACTORS DID NOT KNOW WHAT THE PRIMARY CONTRACTOR WAS BILLING.
IN ADDITION, THE PRIMARY OR MAJORITY CONTRACTOR IN MANY CASES MADE THE MINORITY CONTRACTOR WAIT MONTHS FOR THEIR PAY WHILE IT SAT IN THE INTEREST BEARING ACCOUNT OF THE PRIMARY CONTRACTOR.

THOSE INDIANS ARE PROBABLY STILL WAITING FOR THEIR MONEY. THEY MIGHT EVEN GET BLAMED FOR PROJECTS THEY KNOW LITTLE ABOUT.

CONGRESS WILL STILL PROTECT ITS OWN. NO ONE EXCEPT THE INDIANS WILL GET FINED OR LOOSE THEIR RIGHT TO RECEIVE GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS.

I WILL BE GLAD WHEN GOVERNMENT WORKS FOR ALL OF THE PEOPLE.

Posted by: sm98yth | July 6, 2009 9:59 AM

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