As the U.S. House of Representatives continues to debate the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Alaskan Congressman Don Young today successfully included an amendment to the bill that will help reduce bureaucratic red tape with regards to Native American 8(a) contracting.
Rep. Young's amendment seeks to correct harms caused by Section 811 of the FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act, that since enacted, has adversely affected Alaska Native Corporations that participate in the Small Business Administration's 8(a) program. Section 811 requires that any 8(a) Native American sole-source contract, in excess of $20 million, go through an overly burdensome approval process. This heightened scrutiny, not required for any other contractors, has had a chilling effect for contracts. A recent GAO report showed a 60% decline in revenue from these contracts. This has resulted in a loss of jobs, reduced benefits to Native Americans and has led to unintended discrimination against Native community owned firms.
"Since Senator Stevens left the Senate, Native contractors have been under constant attack. Section 811 was snuck into the 2010 NDAA negotiations by the Senate, and ever since then I have repeatedly heard about the damage this Act has caused our Native contractors. My amendment makes it crystal clear that Section 811 should not, and cannot, be used as a barrier to prevent Native corporations to get contracts."
"In addition to the clarifying language, I have secured the commitment from my friend, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon (R-CA), to join me in providing continued oversight of federal agency implementation of Section 811."
After the amendment was passed, Congressmen Young and McKeon engaged in a colloquy regarding Section 811, discussing the effects Section 811 has had on Native American and Alaska Native 8(a) contracting, and their commitment to resolving the issue.
Congressman Young's amendment clarifies that the heightened Justification and Approval of 8(a) contracts a delegable authority. The implementation by federal agencies of the heightened J&A has been inconsistent and contrary to Congressional intent. Some agencies have been treating the J&A as one to be approved by a "head of agency." This is overly burdensome, and has had a chilling effect on contracts that would have gone through the small business program to Native contractors.