Several of Alaska's most prominent Native corporations are breaking away from their peers by proposing a limit on the size of their contracts with the federal government.
The reformers say major changes are critical. The explosive growth of Native contracting has attracted such intense criticism and serious allegations of abuse -- especially in Washington, D.C. -- that it is in mortal danger, executives of the three companies said.
"To reform it is to save it," said Margie Brown, chief executive of Cook Inlet Region Inc.
Alaska Native firms have become dominant players in the U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) program, designed decades ago to boost the participation of small, disadvantaged firms in the multibillion-dollar industry of federal contracting.
But the growth of Native contracting has overwhelmed regulators' ability to provide adequate oversight, and some Native firms and their non-Native subcontractors have been violating the rules, according to recent federal audits.
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