New BIA policy to implement 1910 law

The BIA has announced a new policy to improve the implementation of the Buy Indian Act of 1910.

The new policy comes in response to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report, released in July 2015, that criticized the federal government’s enforcement of the Buy Indian Act.

The act authorized certain federal procurement contracts to be set aside for preferential awards to Indian economic enterprises (IEEs) for all procurement contracts issued by the BIA, the Bureau of Indian Education, the office of the Interior Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service.

In 2013, regulations were issued that defined IEEs as those companies which are at least 51 percent Indian-owned.

While the BIA and IHS have obtained services and supplies from IEEs under the Act since 1965, the GAO found that Buy Indian procurements have comprised only a small percentage of BIA and IHS annual contract obligations—the result of limited knowledge and implementation of the set-aside in regional or area offices where contracts are often awarded.

New policy highlights
To address the concerns raised by the GAO, the BIA’s new policy:

Directs that all BIA, BIE, Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians and AS-IA acquisitions be subject to the Buy Indian Act policy whenever ‘authorized and practicable’—including acquisitions for supplies, administrative and custodial services, and some construction contracts.

Indicates when deviations from the policy may be authorized.

Requires quarterly reporting on Buy Indian Act acquisitions to better monitor deviations and challenges.

It is expected that this policy will expand contracting opportunities for IEEs. Those interested in contracting should monitor the Federal Business Opportunities website to identify opportunities where there is a Buy Indian set-aside.

(Note: This article was provided by Warm Springs Ventures business and marketing.)