H.R. 7986, entitled the Native Chamorro Equity Act, was introduced in the 116th Congress by Congressman Michael San Nicolas to create a means to identify qualified Native Chamorro companies as 8(a) firms eligible for federal set-aside, sole-source, and general contracts.
A set-aside contract is a contract in which only certain contractors may compete, whereas a sole-source award is a contract awarded without competition. In FY 2019, 8(a) firms were awarded $30.3 billion in federal contracts, including $9.5 billion in 8(a) set-aside awards and $9.3 billion in 8(a) sole-source awards.
The Minority Small Business and Capital Ownership Development Program, commonly known as 8(a) Program, is limited to eligible businesses unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged groups to include recognized Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations, and Alaska Native Corporations. Congress intended that profit made through 8(a) program advantages were to be used to principally benefit the indigenous groups.
Native Hawaiian Organizations, for example, have established educational, job training, and leadership programs that strengthen cultural and historical identities and improve social opportunities for Native Hawaiians across the nation. The 8(a) Program also provides preferential awards to individual-owned Minority, Women, and Veteran businesses, which could further benefit from Native ratings if eligible.
“Expanding Guam 8(a) eligibility specifically for recognized Native Chamorro firms will help new and existing businesses compete for federal contracts that otherwise may have been awarded to firms with their own non-Chamorro Native preferences,” Congressman San Nicolas said in a news release. “Alaskan Native Corporations have been directly 8(a) recognized since 1992, Native Hawaiian Organizations since 1988; here at home and across America, Native Chamorros deserve the equal opportunity afforded to other Native peoples in America,” Congressman San Nicolas continued.
“With the introduction of H.R. 7986 we will provide equal access for our people for Native consideration in federal contracts, help them become more competitive for billions of dollars in 8(a) contracting opportunities, and direct more money into supporting native programs on Guam,” San Nicolas added. “The time has come for us to embrace federal opportunities for the Chamorro people, especially when such opportunities have been afforded to other indigenous people in America for decades,” San Nicolas concludes.
(Delegate Michael San Nicolas News Release)