Murkowski: Alaskan Air Carriers Shouldn’t Be “Held Hostage”
Senator: Pilots, Small Businesses Victims of “Number-Crunching Maze”
After pushing the Department of Interior repeatedly to settle their delinquent debts with a number of Alaskan charter air carriers, Senator Lisa Murkowski today shared the news with Alaskans that tens of thousands of dollars owed to pilots and businesses is on its way:
“Alaskans have a very low threshold for red tape and bureaucracy out of Washington, DC, and it is inexcusable that a number-crunching maze at the Interior Department has left our air carriers and pilots waiting for months to get paid what they are owed. I’ve been urging the Interior Department for months to pay our small air carriers immediately and adjust their accounting procedures on their own time. Our small businesses have been held hostage financially to this inefficient government process, and it’s about time the Interior Department addressed this issue.”
Senator Murkowski is the ranking Republican on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which establishes funding priorities and policy direction to the Department of the Interior and all agencies within it.
HOW WE GOT HERE: A number of Alaskan air carriers have not been paid for transporting government officials around Alaska for research or other government functions. According to the Department of Interior, they have changed their billing process and how funds are disbursed to contractors – adding layers of “chaotic” paperwork and additional steps between service and payment, resulting in months of backlogged payments owed. After lengthy discussions, Interior Department officials informed Senator Murkowski today that they are releasing “emergency” funds to cover these debts and conducting a review of their accounting practices.