Government , Business

ONES subsidiary legislation passes 7-5 vote

Pending Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear’s signature, the Osage Nation will have a single 8(a) umbrella company once more.

By a 7-5 count on the final day of the Hun-Kah Session, the Osage Nation Congress approved ONCR 20-06, which would make Osage Nation Environmental Services, LLC a subsidiary of Osage LLC effective April 30.

The former obtained 8(a) certification from the Small Business Administration in November, thus opening the door for federal contracting opportunities. The latter was already certified.  

“Instead of having two parent companies … we will have one parent company and all of our subsidiary companies with 8(a) companies will be underneath it,” Congresswoman Maria Whitehorn said.

“This is a cost-saving measure for the nation.”

Voting in favor of the resolution were Shannon Edwards, Alice Goodfox, Brandy Lemon, Eli Potts, Angela Pratt, Paula Stabler and its sponsor, Whitehorn.

ONES will not be bringing additional funds with it, as a resolution appropriating $37,500 from the retained revenue fund to the company was voted down on the session’s final day. The resolution was originally written for $150,000, but with the tribe’s primary revenue stream interrupted by COVID-19, the request was reduced before receiving a final up or down vote.

“We don’t have a promise of when that revenue will get here,” Whitehorn said. “We have appropriated every dollar out of the retained revenue fund. It will replenish eventually, but we don’t know when.”

Prior to the final vote, leadership from both ONES and Osage LLC told Congress’ Commerce, Gaming and Land Committee that they had concerns about the potential union. Although they both acknowledged that it could work in the long term, the lack of face-to-face discussions between their two boards prior to the Hun-Kah Session was a red flag.

“We have created a long-term asset for the nation,” ONES Chairman Eddy Red Eagle Jr. said at the April 2 committee meeting. “We have now a good, loyal customer base. We are getting good representation out in the market, brand identity, recognition and we definitely have a talented workforce.

“What we have not had is a conversation with Osage LLC eye-to-eye or face-to-face. We have only heard in passing elements about Osage LLC, empty board positions, no infrastructure staff, deficient audits … and a board member announcing retirement into the public.”

The leadership of Osage LLC also hesitated due to financial concerns. Since the first of the year, the company’s leadership has unearthed multiple contracts that were signed without board approval.

During the April 2 Commerce, Gaming and Land Committee meeting, Osage LLC Chairman Frank Freeman confirmed he is working with the Office of the Attorney General to determine whether those previously unknown contracts are in violation of any Osage Nation laws.

Efforts are underway to determine those contracts’ full impact on Osage LLC’s revenue flow, but in the short term, Osage LLC has limited cash on hand to assume any debts or expenses brought over by ONES.

“We are not opposed to it coming in as a subsidiary as long as it’s not a consolidation,” Freeman said at the committee’s April 21 meeting. “We just do not have resources to cover debt.”