Marshall Doke Jr., a partner in the Dallas office of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP and one of the nation's preeminent government contracts lawyers, testified on Thursday, Feb. 25, before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight.
The hearing was held to assess the need for increased oversight and reform of interagency contracting, which has grown dramatically in recent years.
Mr. Doke was one of two private practice lawyers on the 14-member Federal Acquisition Advisory Panel, established under the Services Acquisition Reform Act.
"The Panel concluded that most of the interagency contracting problems have resulted from an uncoordinated, bottoms-up, statutory and regulatory approach focusing on short-term benefits of reduced procurement lead times instead of as a tool for government-wide strategic sourcing with reduced administrative costs," Mr. Doke told subcommittee members. "The Panel recommended the development of a government-wide policy that requires agencies to address all relevant issues at the point of creation and continuation of these contract vehicles rather than trying to fix them at their point of use."
Mr. Doke cited a March 4, 2009, memo from President Obama stating that spending on government contracts has more than doubled since 2001, reaching more than $500 billion in 2008.
"Merely adding 'sunlight' and transparency to the price premiums being paid would, I believe, have a significant impact in slowing additional growth," Mr. Doke said. He recommended legislation requiring contracting officers report "up the chain" the amounts of these price premiums, which are the amounts the government pays exceeding the price of other acceptable offers based on non-price factors.
Mr. Doke has served as chairman of the American Bar Association's Section of Public Contract Law, president of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Bar Association, president of the Boards of Contract Appeals Bar Association, and was a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Circuit Bar Association.