The Indian Health Service has released a proposed rule that will strengthen requirements for IHS to set aside contracts for businesses owned by tribal companies. The new rule should result in increased opportunities for native-owned businesses by bringing Buy Indian Act purchasing preferences in line with other purchasing policies such as the small business Rule of Two, and it’s about time, as this purchasing preference has been law for 110 years with little clarity on how agencies would enforce it.Continue reading
Buy Indian Act set-asides might increase following the Department of the Interior’s recent release of a Buy Indian Act National Policy Memorandum.
In the January 2016 Memorandum, the DOI establishes a policy of maximizing the use of the Buy Indian Act and increasing the number of Buy Indian Act set-asides. The Buy Indian Act Memorandum comes in the wake of a GAO Report issued last summer, which criticized the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service for their implementation of the Buy Indian Act.
In 1910, William Howard Taft lived in the White House, the Chicago Cubs were just two years removed from back-to-back World Series titles, and Arizona had yet to be admitted to the Union. That summer, Congress passed the Buy Indian Act, a statute authorizing a special federal contracting program for Indian-owned businesses.
Since then, it has been mostly downhill. It took the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) 103 years to issue regulations implementing the Act’s contracting preferences. Now that the regulations are finally in place, the Buy Indian Act program is suffering from lack of effective oversight and implementation. In fact, a recent GAO report found that the BIA and the Indian Health Service could not even clearly articulate whether Buy Indian Act set-aside contracts take priority over other set-asides.
If the Buy Indian Act is ever to live up to its potential, significant changes are needed.
After doubling up the Week In Review last Friday, we are back to our regular one-per-week format. Today, SmallGovCon Week In Review features stories about the GAO’s hard-hitting report on the Buy Indian program, a lengthy prison sentence for bribery of a VA official, the beginning of the fourth quarter “spending season,” and much more.
The implementation of the Buy Indian Act set-aside program suffers from inconsistencies and uncertainties–including the fundamental question of whether Buy Indian Act set-asides are to be prioritized over other set-aside contracts.
In a recent report on the Buy Indian Act, the GAO uncovered a disturbing lack of effective oversight and implementation, and made several recommendations to enable the government to maximize the effectiveness of the Buy Indian Act.