Friday, April 21, 2006

Army Won't Renew Alaska Native Firms' Military Security Contracts

Read the full story in today's (April 21st) Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Synopsis: The Department of the Army announced that it will not renew their military security contracts with two Alaska Native corporations, Chenega Integrated Solutions and Alutiiq Security and Technology, upon their expiration in October 2006. This decision was triggered by a GAO report (GAO Report No. GAO-06-284) issued on April 3rd, recommending that the military stop issuing sole-source contracts to Native corporations and open the contracts to open bidding. The Native corporations would be eligible to bid just like any other prospective contractors.

The GAO report also listed several performance problems, but did not reference specific contractors or incidents. However, on April 5th, the Tacoma News-Tribune reported that 89 guards were hired at two bases even though they had criminal records, including assaults and felonies (the bases and contractors were not specified). Both contracts are worth $100 million. Chenega provides security services for three Alaska bases, Fort Richardson, Fort Greely, and Fort Wainwright. Alutiiq does not have any Alaskan contracts. A Chenega spokesman claims the reference to performance problems misrepresents their company. Both companies expressed their interest in bidding to renew contracts.

Analysis: The practice of awarding sole-source no-bid contracts to Alaska Native Corporations has come under increasing fire in recent weeks. So far, there is no evidence of a link between this decision and yesterday's announcement by the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council to challenge U.S. sovereignty over Alaska before the U.N. Human Rights Commission this July. However, based on one of the stated objectives of the Council's appeal, to increase their land holdings throughout the state, I would not be surprised if there was eventual linkage. The Council's intended action increasingly looks like it's driven by economics.

Related stories:

Anchorage Daily News report dated April 12th

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