Bob Little has more than 30 years of experience in all facets of federal contracting and recently joined Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman as a partner in the Federal Contracting Group, a move that strengthens the firm’s practice. Bob worked at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command before coming to Cohen Seglias. We recently sat down with Bob and asked him a few questions related to his experience and views of the federal contracting industry.
Q: How did you become interested in working for the Federal government?
A: I grew up in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, and from an early age, wanted to fly military aircraft. There was only one way to do that – to work for the Federal government. After fulfilling that “dream” with a tour as an Army Aviator in Vietnam, I clerked during law school for the Chief Counsel, at NASA’s Langley Research Center and saw the role of the federal acquisition attorney as something that appealed to me. My first job as an attorney was with the Government Accountability Office writing bid protest decisions of the Comptroller General.
Q: Why did you decide to leave a government job for one in the private sector?
A: From my perspective, the more apt question is why did I seek and accept this job that happens to be in the private sector. As I contemplated my immanent retirement, I happened to be speaking to Mike Payne on another matter. Having faced Mike and Joe Hackenbracht in some fairly intense litigation, and having developed a real respect for their advocacy on behalf of their clients, I was pleased when Mike mentioned the possibility of joining the firm. Everything I’ve experienced so far has merely underscored what a good idea it was.
Q: What challenges do you think this new career move will bring?
A: Hopefully none that I haven’t seen before.
Q: What perspective do you bring to your new role, having worked on the other side of the table?
A:I’ve always thought that good lawyering required seeing the validity, if not necessarily agreeing with the legal correctness, of everyone’s perspective. I think my role is not new; just the immediate audience is new.
Q: What has been your biggest career achievement so far?
A: Having a Congresswoman request that a Rear Admiral not listen to my advice in matters involving the use of U.S.-flag vessels and having him listen anyway.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in your new position?
A: Making new friends and keeping old friends.
Q: What are a few hot-button issues currently facing federal contractors?
A: The business of doing government business will become even more decentralized simply because the information age allows it to. For example, you would think that with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) having been around for as long as it has that there would now be one settled governmental way to do everything, but just the opposite seems to be true. Commercial item contracts can be tailored in ways never imagined 25 years ago, and there’s virtually no guidance. Keeping clients informed on the vicissitudes of the ever-changing acquisition process down to the post, camp and station level is going to be very difficult. I once had a student tell me that trying to use the FAR is like trying to find “knowledge” in the dictionary by looking under “n”. Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t know which dictionary to use.
Q: Where do you think the highest areas of growth in federal contracting will be in the next couple years?
A: Infrastructure – all aspects of it.
Bob can be reached at 215.564.1700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.