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Investigating 8(a) contracting

A new report on American Indian and Alaska Native companies shows the benefits -- and occasional shortcomings -- of a controversial government contracting program.

Alaska's 13 Native regional corporations and the regulatory framework that governs their financial reporting will be at the center of a probe by the Government Accountability Office, the "investigative arm" of Congress.
Following the kickback scandal involving the U.S. Army Corps and an Alaska Native corporation, Rep. Ed Markey is calling for a Congressional hearing which will, among other things, look at the Alaska Native 8(a) program.
Balancing act: How Alaska Native corporations believe they can achieve a new level of federally-mandated transparency and simultaneously protect their business secrets and the ability to make their own decisions.
Smart moves: While political leaders promise to protect them, small businesses in Alaska are striving to find stable footing amid game-changing rules.
Alaska Natives defended federal contracting preferences, saying the 8(a) program is working and regulatory changes will eliminate the potential for fraud and abuse.
Visits to two Alaska villages illustrate the seeming disparity of benefits derived from Alaska Native corporations.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, foe of federal-contracting exemptions enjoyed by Alaska Native corporations, is open to other ideas for reforming the program.
Revenues of Alaska Native corporations that are major federal contractors have grown much faster than profits and dividends they have paid to Native shareholders.
Cape Fox Corp. was prey to some of the worst abuses in a system that gives Alaska Native corporations access to no-bid government contracts of unlimited size. As federal contracting grew, benefits went to non-Native consultants instead of providing jobs, dividends to Natives.