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From Post-it notes to telecommunications services to airplanes, the government buys it all � and Carl Vacketta helps make it happen. The Piper Rudnick partner specializes in the General Services Administration’s Multiple Award Schedules Program, the system by which most commercially available products are sold to the federal government. This year, the government will spend about $40 billion on such purchases. “I’m a detail person,” says Vacketta. “I like learning about the technology involved in the various things Uncle Sam is buying.” Vacketta, 63, focuses his practice on counseling and transactional work, referring litigation to other members of Piper’s 18-lawyer government contracts group, which Vacketta chairs. For their skills as litigators and counselors, partners Gregory Smith and Richard Rector also win high praise from clients. In his 38 years of practice, Vacketta has handled multimillion-dollar cost claims from major shipbuilders, vetted the General Motors Corp.’s purchases of Electronic Data Systems and Hughes Aircraft, and counseled companies facing suspension or debarment from government contracts. David Kuckelman, general counsel of Smiths Aerospace, praises Vacketta for his “tremendous amount of expertise and knowledge,” and turns to him for pre-award counseling and issues related to contract performance and claims. “He just knows as much about government contracts as anyone in the world,” says Kuckelman. Richard Kuyath, in-house counsel at the 3M Co., says, “Carl’s helped me to find ways as a commercial company to do business with the government.” 3M holds thousands of contracts, most of them small, to supply about 20 federal agencies with everything from Post-it notes to face masks to window coatings. Not all of Vacketta’s clients sell goods. In 2003, he helped Monster.com land a 10-year, $62 million contract to redesign and run the job-search Web site for the Office of Personnel Management. He has also represented MCI Inc. (then WorldCom Inc.) as an intervenor in a bid protest filed by the Sprint Communications Co. and Global Crossing Telecommunications. The telecom rivals argued that after WorldCom’s $3 billion accounting improprieties came to light, the company’s contract with the Department of Defense to provide the Defense Research Engineering Network’s infrastructure should be canceled. In an October 2002 decision, the General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) allowed the company to retain the contract. Vacketta received his law degree from the University of Illinois in 1965 and went to work briefly as a tax attorney for future client General Motors. A member of the Reserve Officers Training Corp, he was called to active duty in 1966 and spent two years teaching procurement law at Fort Lee in Virginia. After he was discharged, Vacketta joined Sellers, Conner & Cuneo (now McKenna Long & Aldridge) and later headed the D.C. office of the now-defunct Pettit & Martin. When the Pettit firm voted to close its doors in 1995, Vacketta was one of more than 20 lawyers who jumped to Piper’s D.C. office. For 32 years, Vacketta has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center � many of his former students are now prominent members of the government contracts bar. In addition, for the past 10 years he has been editor in chief of the American Bar Association’s Public Contract Law Journal � a must-read for practitioners in the field. He also serves on the board of directors of the Capital Area Food Bank. “I like the breadth of what I do,” Vacketta says. “I find the issues fascinating.”

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