What kind of OFPP leader would Gordon be? Look at his track record

Public statements and reports demonstrate even-handedness, appreciation for debate

Daniel Gordon, President Barack Obama’s apparent choice to lead the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy, is likely to bring to the post a wealth of legal and procurement experience, as well as a reputation for candor and even-handedness, according to procurement observers and Gordon's record.

In his present role as acting general counsel at the Government Accountability Office, Gordon manages 150 attorneys who support GAO’s work, including its acquisition audits and bid-protest function.

Larry Allen, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, who has worked with Gordon on occasion, called him straightforward and professional.

“We’ve not had any issues, but in fact have always found GAO to be quite open in discussing issues of mutual interest, with Mr. Gordon being no exception,” he said.

Some of Gordon's philosophy and likely approach to procurement issues can be found in his public record. For example, in a presentation to the Acquisition Advisory Panel in 2005, Gordon said he believes that bid protests are helpful to agencies. According to the minutes of that meeting, Gordon said that, "bid protests provide a self-policing mechanism that may be more efficient than an audit because they allow the aggrieved party to raise concerns."

Gordon has also taken on the Small Business Administration. In July of this year, he denied SBA's request to review bid protest decisions. He wrote that GAO denied the request because SBA's "newly raised information fails to show that our prior decision contains any errors of fact or law." OMB Director Peter Orszag sided with SBA in that dispute.

Read more of Gordon's public statements and writings here.

Also this year, in a Senate-requested inquiry into whether President George W. Bush’s Defense Department violated ethics rules by encouraging retired military officers to appear as media analysts on news programs and support the buildup to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gordon wrote the report that said GAO found no ethics violations.

The report, released in July 2009, said there was no evidence the Pentagon had attempted to conceal its outreach to the former officers or that it paid them for supporting the administration.

However, by using the retired military officers, “DOD attempted to favorably influence public opinion with respect to the administration’s war policies,” Gordon wrote.

He also advised DOD to “consider whether it needs to have additional policies and procedures in place to protect the integrity of, and public confidence in, its public affairs efforts and to ensure the transparency of its public relations activities.”

Gordon previously served as the managing associate general counsel for GAO’s Procurement Law Division and as assistant general counsel for its Legal Services Division.

Gordon is an active member of the American Bar Association’s Section of Public Contract Law. He is an adjunct professor at George Washington University law school, where he teaches government contracting.

A 1986 graduate of Harvard Law School, Gordon received a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University in 1972 and a master’s from Oxford University in 1974.

Following graduation from Harvard, Gordon served as a clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He then was hired as an associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson law firm, where he worked from 1987 until he joined GAO in 1992.

About the Authors

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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

Reader Comments

Mon, Oct 26, 2009

Dan Gordon was a professor of mine at The George Washington University Law School. Not only were his lessons educational from a legal standpoint, they were also practical from a buisness standpoint. It's nice to see intelligent people appointed to key positions.

Thu, Oct 1, 2009 Michael Lent

Non-scientific soundings from some large companies and a few SESs suggest some disappointment that he's an attorney. The acquisition community still seems to prefer either either one of the many genre of federal acquisition execs or an academic with scant commercial understanding or even a top industry person who is federal policy-fluent. I'd respectfully suggest that, with a few exceptions who are not able to take the job, a household name is not what's needed. This OFPP administrator needs to think differently than his many colleagues. They have built the present troubled system, improved it some, but also let much of it decay, leading to the tide of regulation and loss of trust between customer and supplier. The present issues can't be mainly blamed on the Congress. Perhaps Gordon is a guy who sees how enforcement of existing law, policy, and regs would solve a lot of persistent issues, rather than ramping up "new" ideas when solutions are in plain sight.

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