The Native American Contractors Association (NACA), along with several other NACA Members, traveled to the National 8(a) Annual Conference in Orlando on February 9-10, 2016. The Conference brought together important speakers, topics, and several SBA 8(a) Business Development Program participants from around the country. National 8(a) President, Ron Perry, took time during the Conference to meet with NACA Executive Director, Mike Anderson, and other NACA Members to discuss the importance of Native 8(a) Contractors and how NACA and National 8(a) can work together in the future. The conference proved to be a valuable experience as it provided opportunities for NACA to advocate on important issues with federal agencies and build a growing partnership with National 8(a).
Highlights from the Conference:
- Kenyatta Wesley, Acting Director, Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Small Business Programs, provided insight into several 8(a) issues affecting NACA’s members.
- NACA Policy Priority Relevance: NACA will continue to engage with his office on the issues its Members face daily. One of those issues is the loss of contracts set aside to 8(a), which Mr. Wesley explained from a DOD/taxpayer perspective. NACA will be working with Mr. Wesley’s office to provide education on the impact this has to Native Contracting, that depends largely on 8(a) set asides, and the adverse impacts when those contracts are bundled.
- NACA Policy Priority Relevance: The Dynalantic vs. US Department of Defense issue was raised during a one-on-one discussion with Mr. Wesley. NACA asked that the modeling and simulation NAICS be made available as an 8(a) set aside for small businesses per the settlement agreement. Kenyatta acknowledged that he had responded “no” to NACA’s formal request, and stated the DOD was working with SBA on resolving this. NACA will be following up with the Small Business Administration (SBA) on this issue.
- NACA Advocacy in Action: During the General Session, NACA acknowledged and thanked Mr. Kenyatta for DOD’s efforts in the Rothe vs. Department of Defense et al case which challenges the constitutionality of the 8(a) program. NACA informed the audience that it had filed an Amicus Brief, joining with several Native Associations and Tribal Nations, to support DOD’s position. NACA’s announcement was met with a round of applause from the audience.
- NACA leadership met with Jackie Robinson-Burnette, Associate Administrator at SBA, responsible for oversight of the 8(a) program.
- NACA Policy Priority: Ms. Robinson-Brunette directly addressed one of NACA’s policy priorities during her meeting with the NACA Executive Director. She discussed SBA benefits reporting, which is listed as a Regulatory Policy Priority on NACA’s website. Ms. Robinson-Burnette was receptive to the concerns NACA wanted to bring forward. NACA will be monitoring this Policy Priority closely, anticipating the release of the new form.
- NACA Advocacy in Action: Ms. Robinson-Burnette also provided an update on the SBA program, highlighting attempts to improve processes that have historically taken extensive time to complete — like 8(a) applications and annual reports. Her focus is on customer service – which the General Session loudly applauded.
- NACA Advocacy in Action: Ms. Robinson-Burnette will participate in a Roundtable discussion at the NACA Outreach Summit, March 9-10.
NACA will be attending the National 8a Conference again in June at Anchorage. NACA is working with National 8a for the possibility of an added opportunity that NACA would sponsor at no cost to National 8a. NACA will bring Guy Timberlake of the American Small Business Coalition, to Anchorage with the NACA-administered MBDA Business Center to provide seminars on how 8a’s can bolster their competitive intelligence skills and improve their probability of winning contact awards. NACA is very excited about the partnership it is building with National 8(a) and working together in the future.