October 25, 2019 Procurement Lawyer

News from the Chair

by Linda Maramba

Linda Maramba is Senior Litigation Counsel at Northrop Grumman Corporation and chair of the ABA Section of Public Contract Law.

Happy New Year! As you read this, we will be in the first few months of the new government fiscal year and the new “ABA year.” What perfect timing for federal, state, and local procurement lawyers and practitioners to take stock of professional development and community service “new year’s resolutions!”

As the Chair of the Public Contract Law Section for the 2019–2020 year, I am honored to ensure that the Section delivers a variety of opportunities for you to nurture and grow your professional knowledge, skills, connections, and service to the public procurement com- munity. As an illustration of the opportunities available, here is one snapshot from my own experience with the Section, which may amuse you but also prompt a positive response.

Visualize this: Our group of five Section members from various government agency, corporate in-house law, and law firm practice settings had been on a telecon for close to an hour when, during a pause in our discussion, someone ventured to say, “So, what’s your favorite FAR flow down provision?” Complete silence followed. Stunned silence? I admit that my first thought was, “Did he really just ask us about our favorite Federal Acquisition Regulation provision?” Then I thought, “Well, I’ve always been intrigued by a number of provisions as a matter of debatable socioeconomic policy, but I wouldn’t say that I have a ‘favorite’ provision.” But then my mind raced ahead and I found myself saying, “The Changes clause!” And others on the telecon were speaking all at once, weighing in with their “favorites.” It was a chorus of FAR provisions.

Notably, this impromptu discussion occurred while our group was reviewing the draft manuscript for a new Section publication, The Guide to Service Subcontract Terms and Conditions, Second Edition. This telecon was one of several undertaken as part of a collaborative project by numerous volunteers from the Section’s Subcontracting, Teaming, and Strategic Alliances Committee, which ultimately culminated with release of this new title in July of this year.

And how does this vignette demonstrate what the Section has to offer? Consider this:

  • Learn and share with Section members: Collaborating on this publication provided our members opportunities to focus on some new areas of federal acquisition law and to exchange best practices in more familiar areas.
  • Engage in thoughtful discussion: As practitioners, we often are navigating legal terrain without time to “take in the scenery.” Here, our group had an opportunity to reflect on the legal framework of the FAR, then share our observations with other procurement professionals viewing the same “scenery” through different lenses. We could be shameless about showing we are passionate about our work.
  • Contribute to the community: The final publication now is available as an invaluable resource to the procurement community at large. As it reflects the collective input of multiple contributors, it is a powerful reference tool reflecting practical guidance shared by practitioners with years of experience.

So there it is — the Public Contract Law Section. These very same types of opportunities are available to Section members who choose to engage at any level in any of the Section’s many activities: Committee meetings and networking events, Section educational conferences and Council meetings, webinars, newsletters, publications, and more.

As the new year unfolds, please turn to the Section for unmatched opportunities to learn, share, grow, and contribute as a public procurement professional. And I look forward to hearing from you about your engagement with the Section — as well as your favorite FAR provision!