Thirty-year veteran of procurement law and policy served in Executive Office of the President and Department of Defense; spent two years as acting OFPP Administrator; "steady hand on the wheel," according to Federal Computer Week; brings peerless knowledge of government procurement issues
WASHINGTON, DC (September 9, 2008) – Venable LLP announced that Robert Burton, the nation's top career federal procurement official, has joined the firm as a partner in its Government Contracts Group.
Mr. Burton comes to Venable after serving as Deputy Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), the highest ranking career official in that office, for the last seven years. He also spent two years as the Acting Administrator over the course of his tenure.
As Deputy Administrator during the Bush Administration, Mr. Burton was responsible for the government's acquisition policy and procurement guidance to all Executive Branch agencies. His office was charged with developing policy affecting more than $400 billion in annual federal spending - a figure that doubled during Mr. Burton's time in office due to the Iraq War and other major events.
Mr. Burton was instrumental on a number of fronts, including preparing the Administration's policy positions and testimony on proposed acquisition legislation; working with House and Senate committees on the development of acquisition reform legislation; and serving as a principal spokesperson for government-wide acquisition policy issues and initiatives. He delivered more than 100 keynote speeches on procurement topics at leading government and industry gatherings.
In 2005, following a scandal that resulted in a criminal conviction of the former Administrator, Federal Computer Week called for Mr. Burton to be named to the politically-appointed position as head of the Office - a rare endorsement for a career civil servant. Federal Computer Week, which named Mr. Burton the top "2007 Power Player in Procurement," called Mr. Burton the "steady hand on the wheel," and someone who has gone "above and beyond to make a difference."
Mr. Burton already had an accomplished procurement career when he was tapped to join the OFPP in 2001. He had spent the previous twenty years as a high-ranking acquisition attorney with the Department of Defense. At the Defense Contract Management Agency, he advised on the acquisition of major DoD weapon systems, programs and contracts valued at more than $900 billion. He served as general counsel for DoD's Defense Energy Support Center as well as associate general counsel for the Defense Logistics Agency, the DoD component responsible for purchasing most of the general supplies and services used by American armed forces personnel worldwide. He also provided legal and policy counsel on contract management issues, helping manage a staff of over 100 acquisition attorneys globally.
"Rob Burton is one of a kind in the world of government acquisition," said Thomas Madden, who chairs Venable's Government Contracts practice. "There is hardly anyone with his level of experience and stature in the acquisition community.
"Rob has an intimate knowledge of the nuts and bolts of federal procurement - from knowing the chief acquisition officers in every federal agency to the top staffers in both the House and Senate, as well as those individuals working on key procurement panels and task forces," Mr. Madden added. "He has an in-depth familiarity with the public policy aspects of procurement, which have become highly charged in recent years due to a number of high-profile investigations and contractor challenges. And, he has served in senior positions at the Department of Defense with responsibility for reviewing contractor ethics and compliance programs."
"Indeed, Rob's abilities and integrity were such that the people who most closely follow the field were calling for his promotion. We are very glad to welcome Rob to the firm - our contractor work is greatly enhanced by his arrival," Mr. Madden added.
Venable's Government Contracts Group, one of the largest in the country, helps government contractors navigate the often complex and heavily rule-driven procurement process. The firm represents companies that conduct business across the entire spectrum of the federal government, from the largest defense manufacturers and system integrators to small, minority-owned companies performing research and development or services contracts.
Venable promotes an integrated approach to assisting government contractors, bringing in attorneys from 17 legal disciplines. The firm has also established a strong record in representing government contractors in mergers and acquisitions, closing 15 deals with a market value over $1 billion in 2007 alone. Venable was also one of the very first law firms to develop a multi-disciplinary Homeland Security practice in 2002.
"I was naturally aware of Venable as I considered making a move to the private sector," Mr. Burton said. "The firm has long been one of the top legal and policy players on contractor issues. I had known some of the firm's attorneys from serving with them on ABA committees. Venable is generally well-known in the acquisition community as having an one of the most outstanding government contracts practices, as well as a top-flight legislative and government affairs group. The combination of those two important practices provided a very strong incentive to add my experience into the mix."
"Contractor and procurement issues will continue to occupy center stage in any new administration, especially as the federal government grapples with funding challenges and competing policy priorities during the next several years," he added. "I am looking forward to helping Venable's diverse contracting clients work through their own issues on federal procurement matters."
Mr. Burton received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and a B.A. from the College of William and Mary. He was also a Senior Executive Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
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