A federal agency is proposing big changes to the controversial contracting program for minorities that spurred massive growth among Alaska Native corporations over the past decade.
The agency, the federal Small Business Administration, on Wednesday published a 31-page proposed rule comprising many changes to its contracting program for minority-owned, disadvantaged businesses, including Alaska Native firms.
Among the changes that could resonate in Alaska:
• The agency could early-terminate Alaska Native firms from the contracting program if they grow over a certain size. Right now, the firms' size matters only when they join the program.
• Alaska Native and tribal firms would be unable to continue their contracting privileges in a certain line of business — after those privileges expire — simply by creating a new company.
• Alaska Native and tribal firms would not be allowed to subcontract work to their large, non-Native partners. Also, the Native firms would have to do at least 40 percent of the work in those partnerships.
• Alaska Native firms would have to start reporting to the SBA annually how their contracting is benefiting their shareholders.
But the SBA isn't proposing to dismantle the biggest magnet for criticism in its contracting program: The provision that allows Alaska Native and tribal firms to obtain federal contracts without limit on the dollar amount and without competition.
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