Alaska Native Firms Favor Sec. 811 Memos from DOD

The Army, Navy and Air Force are are reported to have agreed to follow reinterpreted guidelines in implementing a law that is believed to have hindered sole-source contracts above $22 million to Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) in the 8(a) Business Development Program..

The effort is the latest by Sen. Daniel Sullivan, R-AK, and other supporters to soften the impact of Sec. 811 of the fiscal 2010 national defense authorization law.  Under Sec. 811, federal agencies wishing to award sole source contracts of $22 million or more to ANCs in the 8(a) program must obtain a Justification and Approval signed by an authorized agency official.

In practice, ANCs considered the justification and approval process overly burdensome. Many contracting officers did not pursue such approvals, resulting in fewer high-value sole-source contracts for ANCs.

However, Sullivan and others have pressed to overturn Sec. 811 or at least reduce its impact. In response, heads of DOD’s military services recently agreed to modify their interpretation of Sec. 811 regulations, the Anchorage Daily News reported, based on several DOD internal memos Sullivan’s office shared with the newspaper.

Carl H. Marrs, chief executive of the Old Harbor Native Corp., an Alaska Native Village Corp., testified about Sec. 811 at a recent field hearing of the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee in Anchorage, AK.  Marrs said the DOD’s recent guidance clarifies that Sect. 811 “is not intended to be a ‘de facto’ bar on sole-source 8(a) program contracts to qualified ANCs.”

The DOD guidance also clarifies that the levels of approval for the J&A and contract award are commensurate with the dollar value of the contract, as is done under the Competition in Contracting Act, Marrs said.

He thanked Sullivan and other lawmakers for their efforts. “For too long this (Sec. 811) provision limiting the size of sole source awards to ANCs has had a very negative chilling effect on ANC contracting,” Marrs said.

~from Set-Aside Alert, July 6 2018