Impact of 11th Circuit’s Sovereign Immunity Waiver Decision on Tribally-Owned Businesses in SBA’s 8(a) Program

On May 1, 2024, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a sweeping decision impacting sovereign immunity for tribally-owned government contractors. The first-of-its-kind appellate decision concludes that by participating in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8(a) Business Development Program (8(a) Program), tribally-owned entities waive sovereign immunity as to virtually all—if not all—claims connected in any way to the entity’s 8(a) Program participation, regardless of the tenuous nature of the connection. Tribally-owned government contractors should adjust their . . . Read More

Financial Capital, Human Capital Will Be at a Premium in Indian Country in 2023

PilieroMazza ’s Nichole Atallah , a partner in the Firm’s Labor & Employment Group , is featured in the article below “Financial Capital, Human Capital Will Be at a Premium in Indian Country in 2023,” originally published in the Summer 2023 edition of NC Magazine. Nichole is joined by Karla Bylund, owner of Soaring Bird Solutions. Attending RES2023? Come visit Nichole and her partner Sarah Nash at Exhibit Booth 702, where they’ll be available to address your most pressing legal concerns around labor and employment laws. Economic development is . . . Read More

SBA Awards $1.1 Million to Support Native American-Owned Small Businesses

Isabella Casillas Guzman of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced on December 15, 2021, that SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs awarded $1.1 million in grants and contracts to seven entities which will provide business development services, management, and technical assistance to Native American-owned small businesses across the country.  This monetary investment is a step in the right direction to help native-owned, small-business government contractors gain access to contracting opportunities.   Ms. Guzman stated that “[n]ative-owned small businesses are vital to our shared economic . . . Read More

OHA Upholds SBA Denial of Admission to 8(a) Program for Failure to Demonstrate Status as Recognized Indian Tribe

In a noteworthy decision this February, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) upheld SBA’s determination denying GTEC Industries, Inc. (GTECI) entry into the 8(a) Business Development Program as a tribally owned entity. [1] For businesses seeking 8(a) program certification, this decision highlights the importance of demonstrating eligibility by a preponderance of the evidence. GTECI’s 8(a) application has a lengthy history. GTECI first applied to the 8(a) program in May 2017 and was denied in May 2018 . . . Read More

HHS Issues Proposed Regulations Governing Buy Indian Act Procurement Procedures

Late last year, the Indian Health Service (IHS) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued proposed regulations that would, if made final, govern IHS’s use of set-asides under the Buy Indian Act (Act). IHS’s current regulations give little guidance on how set-asides under the Act should be made. If the proposed regulations go into effect, officials at IHS will have a better roadmap for setting aside procurements under the Act. Below are key eligibility and procedural updates . . . Read More

Congress Expands Buy Indian Act Procurement Authority: 7 Key Changes Native American Businesses Should Watch

A law passed by Congress at the end of 2020 seeks to expand contracting opportunities under the Buy Indian Act (Act). Through the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act of 2020, Congress amended the Act to expand the scope of the authority of the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make acquisitions subject to preferences for Indian labor and Indian industry under the Act. It is unclear how DOI or HHS will . . . Read More

The First 100 Days: President Biden Signs Memo on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships

Last week, President Biden signed a Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships . In the memorandum, President Biden says “It is a priority of my Administration to make respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, commitment to fulfilling Federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, and regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal Nations cornerstones of Federal Indian policy.” The memo also reaffirms Executive Order 13175 , which “charges all executive departments and agencies with engaging in regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal officials in the development of . . . Read More

BIA to Establish Procedures for Federally Recognizing Alaskan Tribes

On January 2, 2020, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) issued a proposed rule to create a new 25 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 82 that would establish procedures for a non-federally recognized Alaska Native entity to be acknowledged as an Indian tribe by the federal government. This regulation is the first to establish a process for Alaska Native entities to be federally recognized as a tribe since the Alaska Amendment of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) was enacted in 1936. . . . Read More

The Implications of SBA’s Proposed Rule Changes for Tribally Owned 8(a) Businesses

The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently published a proposed rule that would merge its mentor-protégé programs and amend many of its rules governing the 8(a) program. Our Firm’s Managing Partner, Pamela Mazza , recently explained the rule’s significant implications for the government contracting community. In particular, SBA’s proposed rule would make a number of changes to the 8(a) program and regulations applicable to tribally owned 8(a) businesses. Pam and her partner Peter Ford will be attending a tribal consultation meeting in Oklahoma City on January 16, . . . Read More

Key Ruling on Native American Sovereign Immunity Stands—for Now

The Fourth Circuit case Williams v. Big Picture Loans [1]  is being hailed as a major victory for Native American sovereign immunity rights. For entities owned by Native American tribes, the case stands as an important ruling for determining arm-of-the-tribe sovereign immunity. The case may be appealed to the Supreme Court. Background The Lac Vieux Desert Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (the Tribe) formed two business entities under tribal law: Big Picture Loans, LLC, to serve as an independent lending entity . . . Read More