GAO’s Attorneys - A Special Breed of Watchdog

Posted on June 11, 2015
In today’s WatchBlog, some of our attorneys in our Office of General Counsel (OGC) share what they do on a day-to-day basis and what makes GAO a great place to be an attorney. What do you do in a typical day? Monica (Senior Attorney): I provide legal support to GAO’s body of work in the cutting-edge issue areas of health IT and privacy. In the morning, I might finish a review of a congressional testimony and then assist a team with outlining the structure of a legally intensive section of a draft report. During lunch, I usually drop in to see my 2 kids who are enrolled in our on-site daycare. In the afternoon, I might prepare for one of the internal classes I teach, and then help a team with the regulatory framework governing a subject in their report or testimony. Cherie (Senior Attorney): I work in the area of bid protests and spend a substantial amount of my day analyzing bid protest issues and writing decisions resolving bid protests. Additionally, I shepherd bid protests through the protest process at GAO, including issuing protective orders, ruling on dismissal requests, and making redactions to protected decisions to prepare them for public release. I also occasionally have the opportunity to preside over bid protest hearings and to give presentations or speak on panels to educate contracting officials, attorneys, or others about government contracting and the GAO bid protest process. I feel extremely fortunate to have one of the most interesting and influential jobs in the realm of government contracting. John (Assistant General Counsel): I don’t have many typical days! Most days, however, I might: review draft reports, talk with other attorneys in my group about the status of legal issues for their assigned reports, assign new work based on congressional requests and mandates in committee reports or law, meet with congressional clients to discuss the status of current work and concerns about potential future work, and meet with other OGC managers to discuss my group’s work. 20150604 OGC Blog Post Shoot-1 What do you enjoy about working at GAO? Omari (Senior Attorney): We do work that ultimately benefits the Congress and the American people. I spend much of my time working on appropriations law decisions. The Comptroller General’s decisions in this area support an important constitutional principle: ensuring that Congress maintains control over the use of public money. I also work with bright, dedicated people who, like me, do their best to further the agency’s mission. Lincoln (Senior Attorney): GAO is an extraordinarily collegial and supportive place to work. I represent the agency in administrative and federal cases, and I provide advice and counsel to managers on issues with the potential for litigation. I have significant responsibility in every case I am assigned. It is gratifying to help my manager clients make sound decisions that are consistent with the many personnel laws, rules, and regulations governing federal employment. How have you built a career in OGC? Sandra (Senior Attorney): I started my legal career in private practice. What really attracted me to GAO was the ability to work on timely health care policy and legal matters from an independent vantage point. I feel incredibly supported as a senior attorney and know my managers are committed to helping me grow here. OGC also encourages attorneys to spread their wings and experience new areas of law. This is something I really appreciate, particularly after being in private practice where there is significant pressure to specialize very early on in your legal career. Edda (Managing Associate General Counsel): I came to GAO in the summer of 1987 for the Summer Associate Program. I was assigned interesting work and given opportunities to expand my experience. I met and established relationships with colleagues and supervisors that continue today. After that experience, I knew GAO was the right place for me and I came to work here full time after graduation. I worked for several OGC teams over the years, learning new areas of law and establishing relationships. I also have volunteered for OGC and GAO-wide initiatives. For me, the key to building a career in OGC has been to be open to new experiences and learning, making the most of every assignment and opportunity and developing a strong network of professional and collegial relationships in GAO.