ACET Board addresses the SBA 8(a) Certification for Tribes and Tribal Citizens

posted Feb 7, 2020, 1:14 PM by John Norwood


Title: Calling on the Small Business Administration to Clarify and Affirm Eligibility Requirements for the 8(a) Program as Pertaining to American Indians

WHEREAS, the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes (ACET) represents the interests of indigenous Tribes that have continuously existed since prior to the colonial era of the eastern and southern seaboard of the continental United States, which share a common history of pre-colonial, colonial, and federal governmental contact, including, but not limited to, colonial treaties, colonial era reservations or designated “Indian towns,” enrollment in federal and closely associated Indian mission boarding schools, or listing as tribal communities in federal records, reports, or studies prior to 1960; and

WHEREAS, Articles 3, 4, 5 and 23 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) affirm that American Indian tribes and their citizens have an inherent right to develop their economic wellbeing, create and strengthen economic institutions that support self-determination and self-governance; and

WHEREAS, the United State Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) Business Development Program (CFR Title 13: PART 124) supports the ability of tribes and tribal citizens to establish and strengthen both tribally owned and individually owned American Indian enterprises and provides set-aside and sole-source contracting opportunities with federal agencies; and

WHEREAS, eligibility to participate in the SBA 8(a) program includes business entities that are majority owned by economically disadvantaged minorities, with special provisions including American Indian tribes or tribal citizens meeting the program’s definition of “Indian,”  which is an American Indian citizen of, or tribe that is an “… Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community of Indians, including any ANC, which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians, or is recognized as such by the State in which the tribe, band, nation, group, or community resides” (CFR Title 13: PART 124 Subpart A—8(a) Business Development, Provisions of General Applicability, §124.3); and

WHEREAS, tribal governments and their individual citizens have benefited from SBA 8(a) program participation, meeting the purposes of the program; and

WHEREAS, there have been some reports alleging a lack of proper program compliance regarding admission to the 8(a) program by business entities which may not meet the criteria for federal or state recognition of the tribal or individual American Indian owner, allowing for potential abuse of the program; and

WHEREAS, while ACET supports any and all efforts to ensure proper oversight and prevention of abuse by verifying official tribal status with the federal government or the government of a state, there is a concern that response to potential abuse not disadvantage or create any hardship for those eligible to participate in the program according to the current regulations; and

WHEREAS, unlike other economically disadvantaged minority owned businesses, individually owned American Indian businesses are only eligible to become 8(a) certified if the ownership is by a tribal citizen of a tribe that is recognized by the federal government or the government of a state; and

WHEREAS, ACET membership includes both federally recognized tribes and state recognized tribes, and is dedicated to protecting the inherent rights and dignity of all indigenous nations, supporting the furtherance of the SBA 8(a) program is crucial to the economic empowerment and self-determination of the tribes and individual tribal citizens that participate;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that ACET affirms calls for the federal government, through Congressional study or agency action, to address any issues of abuse of, and ensure compliance with, the SBA 8(a) program regulations; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that ACET affirms that any clarification of the SBA 8(a) program regulations does not diminish or disadvantage any tribe or individual deemed eligible under the current regulations.

BE IT RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of ACET until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.