Fixing 8(a) Abuses
By Albert K. White
October 29, 2008
There was an editorial in the Opinion section of the Ketchikan
Daily News recently on Fixing 8(a) Abuses. This article was republished
from the Anchorage Daily News on 0ctober 7, 2008. The republished
article frustrated me because it goes back to spreading only
one side of the information building up opinions that are biased
to the issues reported.
The commentary went on to say that the federal programs that
give special no-bid preferences to Alaska Native Corporation
(ANC) is over generous, and that several Native corporations
have used the bidding preference to win federal contracts totaling
over $1 billion. The editorial also went on to alert how the
program is abused by focusing on an ANC that won a no-bid set
aside with no experience. This ANC created a joint venture with
the company that had experience; which the contractor had preferred.
The article also explained how this 8(a) government program is
a gravy train for Natives Americans and is pushing aside the
mom and pop minority-owned businesses. In the end, the piece
concluded that there is no good public policy in this government
program and needs to be reformed by capping the amount of contracts
Alaskan Native corporations are allowed to receive.
Here is my response to the Fixing 8(a) Abuses article:
The article reports over generous government procurements totaled
over $1 billion, what the article doesn't tell you is that the
government has budgeted to spend over $1 trillion; ANC's affect
no more than 1% of that budget. The reason ANC's have not penetrated
more than 1% of government spending and may never see more than
5% is because of the goliath companies with unlimited lobbyist
resources that work to keep big business big.
The article also reported that an ANC with no experience partnered
with a firm that has experience, which the contractor preferred.
There is really no other way to even get started and survive
in this program without some kind of Joint Venture or Mentor
Protégé agreement to build the experience needed
to feed on the crumbs of the wealthy conglomerates that will
always control the industries to which the government spends
its budget on. As long as the agreement is legal and follows
all SBA regulations partnerships are critical to gaining the
experience in the various industries available.
One of the worst comments this editor could have made was that,
"it is a gravy train that runs for years, allowing Native
firms to push aside mom and pop minority-owned businesses and
force experienced potential competitors to sign up with Native
partners." The Government Accountability Office (GAO) who
answers to congress did a study that proved otherwise to this
statement, if the editor read this report he would not have made
such a fictitious comment. The GAO reported that ANC s affect
no more than 1% of the government budget and benefit Native and
non-natives. Non-natives benefited right beside Natives working
white and blue collar jobs. It was also concluded that profits
seen were spent in rural and non-rural communities increasing
revenue for local businesses through expenditures from dividends
The final statement made by the editor of the article about reform
and capping the program was an uninformed opinion. There is a
reason congress allowed no ceiling for ANC s and a cap for Individual
minority owners. ANC s support hundreds if not thousands of minority
shareholders in Alaska, whereas an individual represents their
self all over the Nation. A mom and pop minority owned business
still has every opportunity to go after their $3 to $5 million
dollar contract opportunities, whereas an ANC focuses on larger
contracts that will support their respective shareholder body.
ANC s have been working hard to try to penetrate the 8(a) s program
opportunities to support rural and non-rural communities but
have only realized a little over 1% of the over $1 trillion spent
by congress. This small amount that is realized has helped with
growing the economy all over Alaska and will soon realize more
government jobs in Alaska.
Studies have been done and legislation continues to be presented
and voted down. Obviously the last failed attempt for reform
infuriated a response of predisposed opinion. I'm tired of the
rhetoric journalists, who continue to spew labeled as an opinion,
their prejudiced view with no fair and balanced commentary to
follow, for this reason I responded.
I currently work for one of these so called "Gravy Train"
subsidiaries. I have been struggling along with our subsidiary
for the last two years to gain the required experience necessary
to be approved as an 8(a) company. Once this happens we will
be able to have a competitive advantage to capture contracts
bringing jobs to Saxman injecting money into Saxman, Ketchikan,
and Ketchikan Gateway Borough's economy.
Even with this so called competitive advantage that some would
love to see disappear, our affect will only be in one minor area
affecting a fraction of the over $1 trillion the government intends
to spend in the coming year.
Even crumbs these days are
too much for minorities to have!
Albert K. White
About: "Past Vice-Mayor
City of Saxman, Vice-President Saxman I.R.A., Current Chairman
Cape Fox Corporation. "
Received October 27, 2008 -
Published October 29, 2008
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