As an Alaska Native Corporation, Ahtna is involved with many facets of government contracting, especially within the Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development Program. Many of our companies are either still active in the 8(a) program or have successfully graduated out of it.
Today and throughout our history of involvement with goverment contracting, our companies have maintained an exceptional safety record; employed a highly trained and experienced workforce; consistently delivered high performance no matter the business activity; and excelled at many types of projects, including large construction and environmental, design-build and engineering, training services, and facilities management.
Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development Program
How the program works
The U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development Program is intended to benefit the client as well as the contractor through mechanisms that ensure quality performance. Prior to acceptance into the program, the contractor is subjected to a rigorous review of its ownership, daily management, operations, experience and financial status. Only those contractors that can document disadvantaged business status and demonstrate the viability of the organization are accepted into the program. Once accepted, the contractor is required to provide the SBA with a detailed business plan that must be updated annually.
Upon acceptance, each contractor is assigned North American Industrial Code System based on the personnel. Performance of the 8(a) contracts is then limited to those NAICS codes. As a company gains experience and expertise, it may request additional codes from the SBA based on documentation of this experience.
The 8(a) program is designed to benefit both client and contractor by assisting small, disadvantaged businesses and by providing:
- The ability to pursue sole-source procurements
- Limited-competition opportunities in the government arena
- Assurance that bonding, insurance and other legal requirements will be met
Though sole-source contracts, businesses are given an opportunity to enter the arena of government contracting and gain the experience necessary to compete in the full and open market. Competitive bidding on limited opportunities allows 8(a) contractors to gain valuable experience in various market arenas.
As an Alaska Native corporation (ANC), Ahtna and its subsidiaries are eligible to receive sole-source contracts greater than $3 million dollars. Per 13 CFR 124.506(b), ANCs are exempt from competitive threshold limitations.
The 8(a) program offers many additional advantages to government project managers, as well. By allowing for sole-source acquisition, even on major projects, it streamlines the competitive-acquisition process. It allows project managers the discretion to define a scope of work and to hand pick the contractor to perform the work.
One of the goals of the 8(a) program is to allow non-8(a) contractors to expand their scope of services. Therefore, the 8(a) contractor is permitted, with approval of the SBA, to subcontract a portion of this work to other qualified firms.
While subcontracting is restricted to maintain the integrity of the program as an opportunity for disadvantaged businesses, subcontracting limits can be as high as 85 percent.
Contractors develop valuable relationships, while the client benefits from a qualified, experienced, well-rounded team.
Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development Program status
- Ahtna Design-Build, Inc. (ADB)
- Ahtna Environmental, Inc. (AEI)
- Ahtna Facility Services, Inc. (AFSI)
- AKHI, LLC
- Ahtna Professional Services, Inc (APSI)
The Indian Incentive Program
The Buy Indian Act
The Indian Incentive Program, which originates from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Buy Indian Act, provides a unique opportunity for prime contractors to receive a 5 percent bonus payment on work subcontracted to Ahtna subsidiaries.
The Indian Incentive Program provides for the payment of 5 percent of the amount subcontracted to an Indian organization or Indian-owned economic enterprise when authorized under the terms of the contract.
DoD contracts with contractors, regardless of company size, that contain the FAR clause 52.226-1 (Utilization of the Indian Organization and Indian-Owned Economics Enterprises) and are eligible for incentive payments under the FY 1999 program. These contracts require contractors to use their best efforts to find Indian organizations and Indian-owned economic enterprises and provide the maximum practicable opportunity to participate in subcontracts awarded to the fullest extent consistent with efficient performance of the contract(s).
Contracting officers, subject to the terms and conditions of the contract, shall authorize an incentive payment of 5 percent of the Indian organizations or Indian-owned economic enterprises.
The FY 1999 Appropriations Act makes $8 million of the amount appropriated for accounts in Title III available for incentive payment to prime contractors.
Prime contractors (regardless of size) submit for incentive payments to DoD contracting officers.
Contractor’s request should contain:
- Cite the use of FAR Clause 52.226-1 in DoD contract number
- Copies of pertinent pages of the subcontract
- Copies of contractor’s invoices
- Total payment of subcontract and calculation for 5 percent rebate
- Subcontractor’s status as an Indian-owned economic enterprise
Process for Applying
- Review and verify documents received
- Forward request and verification summary for incentive payment to DoD SADBU Office
- Provide point of contact in supporting offices with an address, telephone number and email address of the person who will receive funding
- Provide email address and telephone number of DoD contracting officer
- Number of DoD contracting officer
- For more information about the Indian Incentive Program, contact the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization in Washington, D.C. at: (202) 565-8124
Public Law 93-638
Indian self-determination contracting
Section 102 of the Amended Act directs the secretary, upon the request of any Indian tribe by tribal resolution, to enter into a self-determination contract with a tribal organization to plan, conduct and administer programs or portions thereof, including construction programs. What’s important to understand is that the relationship of “638” contracting is government-to-government. Indian self-determination contracts are, in general, not procurement contracts.
Once a resolution and self-determination contract is presented, the secretary has 90 days in which to approve the proposed contract. A disapproval must be made within 60 days and must be based on one or more of the following findings:
- The service or function to be contracted is unsatisfactory
- There is inadequate protection of trust resources
- The project or function cannot be completed or maintained as proposed in the contract
When the secretary declines to enter into a self-determination contract, the secretary must:
- Provide written reasons for rejection
- Provide technical assistance to overcome the objections
- Provide a hearing on the record with appeal procedures according to the rules to be developed later by the secretary
The following, Section 103, authorizes the secretary to contract with or make grants or cooperative agreements to Indian tribes upon request. The authorized purposes for these contracts, grants and cooperative agreements include:
- Strengthening or improving tribal government, which includes planning, financial management, personnel management, development, construction, maintenance or preservation of facilities
- Planning, training and evaluation activities to improve the capacity of a tribe to contract and manage activities
- Land acquisitions in connection with the activities described above
- This section also includes a mandatory technical assistance requirement
When a technical assistance request is made, the secretary must provide the services on a no-cost basis unless there are no federal appropriations. The secretary is required to provide technical assistance to:
- Develop any new self-determination contract
- Help a tribe assume responsibility for any complete or partial program authorized by Section 102(a)(1) of the amended Indian Self-Determination Act
- Modify a proposed self-determination contract previously rejected by the secretary
- Technical assistance grants are also available to tribes, who, in turn, seek assistance from other tribal organizations operating mature “638” contracts
The next section of importance for our purpose is Section 105 of the amended act. Section 105 specifically excludes all self-determination contracts except construction contracts from the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act and the Federal Acquisition Act. Because a construction contract is still regarded as a procurement contract, the Federal Acquisition Regulations apply, in part, to these contracts.
To determine the extent of the applicable regulations, the interim internal regulations of BIA must be consulted. Section 271.51(b) of those regulations states that the commissioner of BIA may waive any federal contracting laws, executive orders, regulations, rules and other administrative requirements which he determines are not appropriate for the purposes of the contract involved or are inconsistent with the act (see attached regulations).
Section 271.5(c) of the BIA regulations directs that the contracts will be negotiated on a non-competitive basis without advertising when the contracts are requested by a tribal governing body.
Public Law 93-638 provides a contracting process by which an Indian Tribe or Native corporation can obtain government-contracting opportunities without the necessity of a competitive bid process. The result of the amended act is to create a “partnering” relationship between the agency and the Indian tribe.
The United States Congress, as well as the courts have given the act’s provisions broad interpretation. This has enabled the agencies and tribes to identify and engage in creative and innovative methods of expanding Native contracting opportunities.
Health and Safety
Ahtna is committed to a safe and productive work environment. Our occupational illness and injury rates are well below the current national average despite extreme inclement weather and remote operations.
Our site health and safety plans ensure hazards are identified and mitigated, specific site-safety reviews are continuously conducted, and daily safety and work plans are held.
Our specialists bring many years of regulatory compliance experience in all facets of environmental engineering, construction, waste-management and other types of safety-related experience in both government and private-sector arenas.
Quality Assurance/Quality Control
Ahtna has implemented a corporate quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) program designed to oversee every aspect of project development from document preparation through construction.
The program incorporates:
- Peer review
- Testing methodology
- Data review
- Routine calibration of instruments
- Implementation of a three-phase inspection program
- Maintenance checks and logs
Our success is evidenced by Ahtna’s Award of Recognition from the U.S. Navy for “excellent work habits and ethics” for the hazardous and solid-waste removal and disposal project in Adak, Alaska.