Federal Eye: Congress Set to Focus More on Alaska Firms

The number of government contracts awarded to Alaska Native Corporations skyrocketed 1,386 percent between 2000 and 2008, according to a new federal audit, even though they account for only a small portion of companies participating in a Small Business Administration program designed for small, minority-owned businesses.

The latest audit mirrors similar investigations by the Senate panel, other inspectors general and the Government Accountability Office, which in 2006 called the provisions enjoyed by Alaska-based firms an “open checkbook."

A Senate subcommittee on government contracting will hold a hearing on the issue tomorrow, following last week's release of the audit by the SBA's inspector general, part of an ongoing investigation of ANCs.

“I think we’re on to something, because there is teeth-gnashing and screeching going on that I think is potentially out of proportion to what we’ve announced, in terms of the topic of the hearing," said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who chairs the subcommittee on contracting oversight.

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