A sneak peek at likely OFPP administrator nominee's point of view

Gordon's public record reveals his thoughts on procurement issues

Daniel Gordon, expected to be President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, isn't talking to reporters right now. But the writings and public statements he has created in his position as acting general counsel at the Government Accountability Office and in previous roles reveal some of his ideas and provide clues to the kind of administrator he would be.

On bid protests:

Gordon agrees that frivolous bid protests can bog down the contracting process. But he said it would be worse if dissatisfied bidders don’t protest at all because they thought it would be a waste of time and money. 

“More troubling is the phenomenon where disappointed bidders are deterred from protesting by fear that the contracting agency will retaliate against protesting vendors in competitions for further contracts. Concern that disappointed bidders may be unwilling to protest weighs in favor of providing due process and ensuring that the protest forum is seen to be fair and to be willing and able to provide meaningful relief, and that protesters will not be subject to retaliation.”

“Bid protests play a central fundamental role in protecting the integrity of the procurement system. Neglecting, or crippling, an effective protest system will lead to a loss of transparency, and the shared experience of many procurement systems is that when transparency is decreased, corruption and related problems increase.”

From the paper titled “Constructing a Bid Protest Process: Choices Every Procurement Challenge System Must Make.” Published in 2006 by the George Washington University Law School.

Large procurements generate an increasing number of protests because in many cases of multiple-award contracts, companies who don't get a spot on a vehicle fear they will be shut out of contract opportunities for years, Gordon said. "But another reason for the increase in the number of protests is there is more money available at the Defense Department and at the Homeland Security Department. And when you have more contracts, there are more protests," he said.

Daniel Gordon, “Agencies’ consolidation efforts face rising tide of protests,” GCN.com, Jan. 7, 2005.

On organizational conflicts of interest:

“The consolidation within the industries serving the U.S. government, particularly in the information technology and defense industries, has caused OCIs to be a more common problem. This goes beyond having fewer contractors who produce a particular good or service; the contractors that remain are producing a wider range of goods and services than they did previously, and it is this change that is increasing the risk of OCIs.”

“The government is entering into contracts that include the firms giving the government advice on which hardware or software to buy.”

“The factors leading to OCIs are unlikely to disappear: the consolidation within the industrial sectors selling to the government, mergers and acquisitions leading to the presence of multifaceted corporations selling a wide range of goods and services to the government, the reliance on umbrella contracts, and public/private competitions. At least in the federal procurement system, OCIs look like a ‘growth area’ for public procurement practitioners, and one that bears watching.”

From the paper titled “Organizational Conflicts of Interest: A Growing Integrity Challenge.” Published in 2005 by the George Washington University Law School.

On assisted acquisition services:

“The growing use of umbrella contracts has arguably given rise to another, somewhat novel, kind of OCI. Agency employees who are making the decision about whether particular goods or services are within the scope of a particular umbrella contract may face something of an OCI of their own. In at least some agencies, the agency receives a percentage of the revenue spent under the contracts they administer, and the desire to enhance the agency’s revenue stream can create what looks like an OCI, which could affect the agency’s objectivity in making determinations about the scope of the contract.”

“Agencies’ receipt of these commissions or fees (sometimes called ‘industrial funding fees’) can, at least arguably, be said to create OCIs for government agencies.”

From the paper titled “Organizational Conflicts of Interest: A Growing Integrity Challenge.” Published in 2005 by the George Washington University Law School.

On stakeholders:

“These decisions, however, are more likely to lead to good, politically acceptable, public procurement systems when government leaders and policy makers thoughtfully and carefully weigh the competing stakeholder interests and overall public procurement system goals.”

Daniel Gordon, Steve Schooner and Jessica Clark, “Public Procurement Systems: Unpacking Stakeholder Aspirations And Expectations.” Published in 2008 by the George Washington University Law School.

On small business set-asides:

“Our decision held that the plain meaning of the [Historically Underutilized Business Zone] statute creates a mandatory preference for HUBZone small-business concerns when the enumerated conditions of the statute are met.”

Daniel Gordon, in a decision regarding “Small Business Administration — Reconsideration.” Issued July 6, 2009, by the Government Accountability Office.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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