FCW Insider

Blog archive

FCW Insider: Alaska native contracting deserves more scrutiny

Perhaps — just perhaps — the problems with Alaska native set-aside contracting might be fully exposed.


In today's Washington Post, Robert O'Harrow Jr. reports on a case in which Food and Drug Administration officials used an Alaska-based company to funnel public relations work to Washington, D.C.-based Qorvis Communications.


Under existing laws, agencies can award contracts to Alaska Native Corporations without competition. Most such firms are too small to handle large contracts on their own without the help of a large subcontractor. But ideally, the Alaskan firm would handle a substantial amount of the work.


The Post story is just one example of how the program is frequently abused, with the Alaskan company serving as a front for the subcontractor. In the past several years, the Government Accountability Office has investigated such reports (read one such report from 2006) and Congress has held several hearings (read an FCW story from the same time period).


But these investigations have never gained traction. They generate a lot of headlines for a couple days, and then people lose interest.


O'Harrow might have changed the dynamics by documenting how the various players openly plotted to use the Alaskan firm to send work to Qorvis.


A sample grab:


"While the deal was being formulated last October, James Dunn, a private consultant who had dealings with ANI, sent the following e-mail to a Qorvis executive, who forwarded it to an FDA official: 'ANI will gladly serve as a prime for Qorvis on the FDA deal, knowing that the agency would intend to direct them to you as a subcontractor to perform all the work.'"


James Dunn is no stranger to FCW's pages. In 2002, Dunn left GTSI to become chief operating officer of Eyak, an 8(a) company owned by Alaska natives in the village of Cordova, Alaska (read the full story). He is now with Red Team Consulting.

An FDA consultant who appears to have been the primary engineer behind the deal described it as "a matter of efficiency."


According to O'Harrow's article, a congressional committee is promising to look into the matter. Perhaps this time, Congress will see the issue through.


What do you think? Post a comment on this blog or send a letter to the editor.

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Oct 02, 2008 at 12:17 PM


Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.