Top development lawyers on a 'grand bargain' for US aid procurement

Crowley Logistics in Miami, Florida is one of three U.S. Agency for International Development shipping and logistics facilities in the nation. Photo by: Lance Cheung / CC BY

WASHINGTON — For the U.S. government, investments in global development require a range of tough choices. How to spend scarce foreign assistance dollars — and with whom — is one of the toughest.

Procurement can be a thorny issue inside an industry built on partnership and cooperation. Questions about who should receive government funding, and what form that funding should take, still tend to pit different constituencies within the U.S. development community against each other.

For-profit contractors, not surprisingly, argue the U.S. Agency for International Development should channel more of its funding through contracts. Not-for-profit nongovernmental organizations tend to favor grants. How the balance between those two primary funding vehicles is struck is an issue under constant negotiation — and not infrequently, litigation.

Robert Nichols, a founder of Nichols Liu LLP, has argued many of those cases, and he thinks it is time for U.S. development organizations to make sure they really understand what the laws that govern U.S. federal procurement actually say.

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About the author

  • Igoe michael 1

    Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.