Murkowski Fights For Alaska Native 8(a)s

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As some on Capitol Hill single out and challenge Alaska Native Corporations’ participation in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program, Senator Lisa Murkowski lashed back in a hearing of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “My colleagues want to measure the Indian 8(a) program with a spreadsheet, but bean counters can’t measure self-sufficiency or innovation.”

The Alaska Native Corporations are exempted from a contract cap and automatically classified as “disadvantaged,” a label criticized during the hearing based on income data.  “When some of my colleagues are dismissive about Alaska Natives being categorized ‘disadvantaged,’” Murkowski observed, “they must realize we’re talking about a population, many times, without a road system or water supply system and not just a lump average income statistic.”

The Small Business Administration made a number of revisions to 8(a) programs last month – at the request of ANCs, Native American and Hawaiian groups – tightening many of the reporting requirements and raising the accountability standards.

“The 8(a) reforms have just been put into place, with a new standard for stronger business practices. What the Alaska Native Corporations and the 8(a) community deserve now isn’t a DC crackdown, but time for the improvements to take root.”

 Panelists included Alaska Federation of Natives President Julie Kitka, National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Johnson-Pata, Coeur d’Alene Tribe Chief James Allen and representatives from the Small Business Administration.