BSNC supports Section 811 correction in 2020 National Defense Authorization Act

BSNC commends the work of U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and his colleagues in voting to pass the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill authorizes $738 billion in critical defense spending and includes numerous provisions and amendments introduced by Sullivan, many of which directly impact Alaska and Alaska Native Corporations.

“This bill focuses our military on the 2018 National Defense Strategy’s push to address great power competition with Russia and China, particularly in the Arctic, undoes a long-standing, discriminatory provision that targeted Native businesses competing for large DOD contracts, and provides support for Alaska’s military priorities.” said Senator Sullivan.

This year’s NDAA includes a number of Arctic-related provisions including:

• Strategic Arctic Port Designation: Requires the Secretary of Defense to study potential sites for Naval Arctic infrastructure and gives the authorization to designate a site or sites for a Strategic Arctic Port. As the importance of the region grows, ensuring U.S. Naval access and presence in the Arctic is critical. This designation aims to create the strategic imperative for the United States to invest in a deep-water port or ports along Alaska’s coast that can accommodate our national security needs.
• Russian and Chinese Arctic Military Activities: Requires a report on Arctic military activities by the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.
• Arctic Mass Casualty Planning: Requires the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a plan for carrying out mass-casualty disaster response in the Arctic. The provision will help prevent challenges, such as those encountered by the Norwegian government earlier this year as it attempted to rescue 1,373 passengers from the cruise ship Viking Sky.

The bill also requires the Department of Defense to remove overly burdensome restrictions that apply to Native 8(a) contractors. The restrictions, first enacted as Section 811 in late 2009 within the Fiscal Year 2010 NDAA, applied only to Native 8(a) contractors. Section 823, championed by Senator Dan Sullivan, eases discriminatory restrictions on businesses owned by tribes, Native Hawaiians and Alaska Native people, including Alaska Native Corporations. The identical provision was added to the NDAA in the House by Congressman Don Young and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).

“I am thankful that the Alaska Delegation understands the profound positive impact that Alaska Native Corporations have on the state of Alaska’s economy in addition to delivering benefits to our shareholders and descendants,” said BSNC President & CEO Gail R. Schubert. “Section 811, which was enacted with no notice or discussion, resulted in a strong bias against Native contractors, thus adversely affecting revenue generation. Revenues generated from our government contracting efforts provide critical resources for delivering important shareholder benefits such as distributions, Elder dividends, scholarships, bereavement assistance and workforce development opportunities for shareholders and descendants. BSNC thanks Congressman Young and Senator Sullivan for looking out for Alaska and championing a remedy to this discriminatory provision.”

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was greatly enhanced by changes to the SBA 8(a) program, which were made possible by the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. Disadvantaged small businesses, such as ANCs, would not be able to compete with large government contractors without the business development tools provided by the 8(a) Program.

The success of ANCSA will be significantly enhanced by the correction of Section 811. BSNC looks forward to continuing to serve its federal and commercial customers by providing optimal, reliable services to achieve mission success, which will ultimately benefit our region, our country and shareholders.

Read more about the 2020 NDAA at: https://www.sullivan.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/bipartisan-defense-bill-heads-to-the-presidents-desk-with-sullivans-support

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