March 01, 2017 Public Contract Law Journal

The Developoment of Modern Government Contract Law: A Personal Perspective

Review by Michael W. Mutek

Michael W. Mutek (mmutek@steptoe.com) is senior counsel in the Washington, D.C., office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP and Past Chair of the Section on Public Contract Law.

C. Stanley Dees
Wolters Kluwer (2016)
225 Pages, soft cover
$95.00

Background

Only an experienced government contract law lawyer whose practice has spanned the development of government contract law since the 1960s and who has been afforded the opportunity to address major issues could attempt the ambitious task of writing this book. C. Stanley Dees fits that profile well. The Development of Modern Government Contract Law: A Personal Perspective is an important addition to the resources available to government contract lawyers and provides an understanding of the development of some key areas of government contracting.

This book is more than an interesting and enlightening read; it provides incredible insight into the cases, events, and reasons behind the development of modern government contract law — both key government contracting issues and the way that government contract law is practiced. Although Mr. Dees states that his book “is not a conventional history or a chronicle of all events during this period,” his book does give the reader a wonderful sense of the rich history of government contracting in modern times.

Stanley Dees arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1962 as a summer clerk for Cummings & Sellers and returned the following year to the same firm, which was then called Sellers, Connor & Cuneo. That was but two years prior to the creation of the Section of Public Contract Law; one important reference point is that it was a time of increasing interest in government contracting. The Section’s creation was a direct result of the American Bar Association’s recognition of the growing importance of this area of the law. That importance arose from the convergence of several factors, including the space race and growing concern over the cost of contracts, which was receiving both press and congressional attention and resulted, among other things, in the Truth in Negotiations Act and efforts such as the total package procurement concept.

Mr. Dees addresses the involvement of the Section of Public Contract Law in these developments. Chapter 9, Structural Reform: Legislative Changes 1978–84, discusses key legislation, including the Contract Disputes Act and the Competition in Contracting Act, and analyzes the role played by the Section and the organized bar in shaping the legislation. As a past chair and an active member of the Section throughout its existence, Stanley Dees has first-hand knowledge of the importance of this role.

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