Watchdog attorney is likely choice to run procurement policy shop

The Obama administration has selected a leader from the government oversight community to head its procurement policy shop, Government Executive has learned.

Several well-connected procurement sources confirmed on Tuesday that Daniel Gordon, deputy general counsel of the Government Accountability Office, will be nominated as administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget within the week, possibly as early as Wednesday.

The nomination was first reported on Tuesday by Federal News Radio. OMB officials did not respond to a request for comment about Gordon.

Sources said Chief Performance Officer and OMB Deputy Director of Management Jeffrey Zients offered Gordon the position -- which he reportedly did not campaign for -- several weeks ago. Gordon accepted and has recently completed the rigorous vetting process associated with all administration nominees.

He is a unique pick to serve as the government's top acquisition official. Unlike previous candidates, who tended to be academics or procurement attorneys with private sector experience, Gordon has spent the past 17 years at GAO.

He started at the watchdog agency in 1992 as a senior attorney in the procurement law division, adjudicating bid protest decisions between companies that fail to win a contract and the awarding agency. In 1995, Gordon was promoted to assistant general counsel of GAO's legal services division, which provides legal guidance and assistance to Congress.

Gordon returned to the procurement law division in 1997 as its deputy chief; three years later he was running the unit as managing associate general counsel. For the past three-plus years, he has served as the agency's deputy general counsel, supporting reviews of high-profile matters before Congress and addressing legal issues federal agencies face.

Sources described Gordon as incredibly intelligent, straightforward and eager for a reasoned debate. And while his background is in oversight, industry officials who have known him for years stress that he is not ideological.

"Dan is substantive and fair, but no one will pull the wool over his eyes -- contractor or government," said Angela Styles, who was President George W. Bush's first OFPP administrator and is now a partner in the law firm of Crowell & Moring's government contracts group. "Both personally and professionally, he is about as solid as they come."

In addition to his position at the GAO, Gordon also teaches a course called "Formation-Government Contracts" at The George Washington University Law School, where he serves as an adjunct professor.

Prior to his time in government, Gordon was an associate at the corporate law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson and also clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Gordon has degrees from Brandeis, Oxford and Harvard universities.

If he is confirmed, Gordon will have a busy agenda, advocating for the overworked and undersized acquisition community and implementing the administration's recent contracting policy memos. He will be tasked with ensuring that agencies find a combined 7 percent savings in their contracting spending during the next two fiscal years and that they cut by 10 percent their sole-source, cost-reimbursement, and time and materials contracts.

OFPP has been without a permanent leader since Paul A. Denett resigned as administrator in September 2008.

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