Fed. Contracting Case Bad News for Nonprofits

Fed. Contracting Case Bad News for Nonprofits

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Although the National Council of Nonprofits and the Urban Institute released powerful reports on challenges of contracting and payments for nonprofit recipients of governmental grants and contracts, no one should be surprised that the revelations didn’t lead to epiphanies in attitudes and behavior on the parts of federal agencies.

Running the gamut of federal courts right now is a case pitting the federal government against the Shoshone-Paiute tribes living on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation that covers parts of Nevada and Idaho. The federal government had agreed to compensate the tribes for running a hospital on the reservation, but reneged. The tribes sued, won twice in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the federal government is still fighting not to pay. In fact, the Obama administration has asked Congress to approve a plan for permanently limiting how much Native American tribes could be compensated for specific costs associated with government contracts.

This is no isolated issue. The precedential implications are obvious to the federal contractors and other tribes that have joined with the Shoshone-Paiutes to press the federal government to pay up rather than negotiating partial payments. According to the Washington Post, hundreds of tribes say that they are owed some $2 billion collectively. Representing 229 tribes with more than $350 million in unpaid claims, Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) warns that the federal government’s attitude “should put some fear into the small, medium and large contractors.”

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Nonprofit Quarterly
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