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Call him Mr. Fix-it. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Joseph West stands out for his ability to help companies avoid being suspended or debarred from government contracts. Working in perhaps the most sensitive area of procurement law, West, 55, declines to discuss the specifics of his cases. “When you do this kind of work dealing with suspensions or debarments or internal investigations, your biggest successes are things no one ever finds out about,” he says. But press accounts and company statements reveal some of his handiwork. For example, West acknowledges that he represented the Sprint Corp. “in a significant matter before the General Services Administration relating to the FTS 2001 contract” for long-distance telephone service. According to articles in The Washington Post and elsewhere, Sprint found itself in hot water in 2003 for overbilling the government by more than $2 million. The GSA inspector general recommended debarring the company. But after paying more than $5 million to settle a qui tam suit, Sprint announced in October 2003 that the GSA would allow it to continue to seek new government contracts. Debra Diener, now a senior adviser to the commissioner and deputy commissioner of the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Management Service, came to know West as opposing counsel on another confidential matter. During the one and a half years that the matter took to resolve, she came to respect him. “Joe is a very smart and tough opponent,” says Diener, who at the time was chief counsel of the Financial Management Service. “But one of the key things about him is that I could take him at his word. The way in which he conducted himself was at the highest professional level.” West knows what it is like to be on the government’s side. From 1994 to 1997, he represented the U.S. Navy in the massive � and still ongoing � dispute over the default termination of government contracts for the A-12 Avenger aircraft. Although Justice Department lawyers took the lead in the case, the Navy authorized a substantial involvement by its outside counsel. West oversaw a team of 20 lawyers working full time on the case for several years. “Representing the government like this gave me increased insight into how decisions are made,” he says. He also worked with DOJ lawyers in defending the U.S. Postal Service’s award of a $6.36 billion contract to Federal Express to carry express and priority mail. Emery Worldwide Airlines unsuccessfully protested the award in 2001. Wyeth (formerly American Home Products) tapped West for assistance in working with the Department of Health and Human Services on issues related to potential liability in supplying smallpox vaccinations. In 2002, the Associated Press reported that President George W. Bush quietly issued an executive order indemnifying Wyeth and Aventis Pasteur. West has also handled a number of construction cases. One notable dispute involved a $100 million Veterans Administration hospital in Seattle built by the M.A. Mortenson Co. West secured the first-ever monetary sanctions in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims against the government for failing to comply with discovery. West, who holds an undergraduate degree in civil engineering, spent four years as an officer in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps. His first taste of government contracts came when he was the public works officer assigned to the U.S. Naval Security Station in Washington, D.C. Then he enrolled in law school at George Washington University, graduating in 1977. He worked full time for the last two years as contract claims administrator for the regional Metro system. “By the time I graduated,” recalls West, “I’d done real, live government contracts work.” And he knew it was the field for him. West went into private practice in the D.C. office of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, and was part of the mass migration that created Crowell & Moring in 1979. After a second stint at Jones Day, West joined Arnold & Porter, where he was a partner from 1993 to May 2004, when he moved to the D.C. office of Gibson, Dunn.

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