The Twenty-Eighth Annual Gilbert A. Cuneo Lecture in Government Contract Law [Court of Federal Claims Opinions]

AuthorRalph C. Nash, Jr.
PositionSpecialized in the area of Government Procurement Law
* This is an edited transcript of a lecture delivered by Professor Ralph C. Nash, Jr., to
members of the staff and faculty, their distinguished guests, and officers attending the
60th Judge Advocate Officer Graduate Course at The Judge Advocate General’s School,
Charlottesville, Virginia, on November 18, 2011.
Professor Emeritus of Law of The George Washington University, Washington,
D.C., from which he retired in 1993. The lecturer founded the Government Contracts
Program of the university’s National Law Center in 1960, was the Director of the
Program from 1960 to 1966 and from 1979 to 1984, and continues to be actively involved
in the Program. He was Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Research and Projects, of
the Law Center from 1966 to 1972.
Professor Nash has specialized in the area of Government Procurement Law. He
worked for the Navy Department as a contract negotiator from 1953 to 1959, and for the
American Machines and Foundry Company as Assistant Manager of Contracts and
Counsel during 1959 and 1960.
He graduated magma cum laude with an A.B. degree from Princeton University in
1953, and earned his Juris Doctor degree from the George Washington University Law
School in 1957. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Alpha Delta, and the Order of the
Professor Nash is active as a consultant for government agencies, private
corporations, and law firms on government contract matters. In recent years, he has
served widely as neutral advisor or mediator and arbitrator in alternate dispute resolution
proceedings. He is active in the Public Contracts Section of the American Bar
Association, is a member of the Procurement Round Table, and is a Fellow and serves on
the Board of Advisors of the National Contract Management Association.
During the 1990s, Professor Nash was active in the field of acquisition reform. He
served on the “Section 800 Panel” that recommended revisions to all laws affecting
Department of Defense procurement, the Defense Science Board Task Force on Defense
Acquisition Reform, and the Blue Ribbon Panel of the Federal Aviation Administration.
He is the co-author of a casebook, Federal Procurement Law (3d ed. 1977 (Vol. I)
and 1980 (Vol. II)) with John Cibinic, Jr. He and Professor Cibnic also co-authored five
textbooks: Formation of Government Contracts (4th ed. 2011) (with Chris Yukins),
Administration of Government (4th ed. 2006) (with James Nagle), Cost Reimbursement
Contracting (3d ed. 2004), Government Contract Claims (1981) and Competitive
Negotiation: The Source Selection Process (3d ed. 2011) (with Karen O’Brien-DeBakey),
co-author with Leonard Rawicz of the textbook Patents and Technical Data (1983), the
three volume compendium, Intellectual Property in Government Contracts (5th ed.
2011), and the two-volume, Intellectual Property in Government Contracts (6th ed.
2008); co-author with seven other authors of the textbook Construction Contracting
(1991), co-author with Steven Feldman of Government Contract Changes (3d ed. 2007),
and co-author with Steven L. Schooner, Karen O’Brien and Vernon Edwards of The
Government Contracts Reference Book (3d ed. 2007). He has written several monographs
for The George Washington University Government Contracts Program monograph
series, and has published articles in various law reviews and journals. Since 1987 he has
been co-author of a monthly analytical report on government contract issues, The Nash &
Cibinic Report.
That’s the third edition of formation. The fourth edition just came
out. Steve is teaching using it this fall, and when he got his copy, the first
thing he said to me was, my main issue in using your book this semester
is to not drop it on my foot, because it’s so fat.
Gil Cuneo was a fabulous guy. He actually, in my view, is the one
who professionalized government contracting. When Gil came into the
business out of the government, the practice of government contract law
was there, but it was a pretty unsophisticated practice. This is a long time
ago. And Gil began turning out really high quality documents; I think
really the first person that did that.
When I set up the program in 1960 and began to give a—I started out
with a two-week course in ‘61. I had five outsiders and, of course, Gil
was one of those five. One of the great things that happened to me at the
end of his life was that he and I were down here together. If he died in
‘76, it must’ve been ‘74 or 5, somewhere along in there. I don’t know
how many of you remember, but by that time, he was in a wheelchair. He
was having a hard time getting around. But we did get a chance to go to
dinner that night and it was a wonderful way—of course, I didn’t know
he was going to die in the next year or two—but it was a wonderful way
1 The Gilbert A. Cuneo Chair of Government Contract Law was dedicated on January 9,
1984. Gilbert A. Cuneo attended St. Vincent College, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and
Harvard Law School. He received an honorary LL.D. from St. Vincent College in 1973.
After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1937, he was engaged in the private
practice of law in New York City until entering military service in October 1942. From
August 1944 to March 1946, he was a member of the faculty of The Judge Advocate
General’s School, where he taught the legal and accounting phase of government contract
negotiation, termination, and renegotiation, and wrote a substantial part of the text
entitled Government Contracts and Readjustment, published by The Judge Advocate
General’s School.
Mr. Cuneo served as an administrative judge with the War Department Board of
Contract Appeals and its successor, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, from
1946 to 1958, at which time he entered private practice in Washington, D.C.. He served
as Chairman of the Section of Public Contract Law of the American Bar Association in
1968–1969. Mr. Cuneo was an Honorary Life Member of the National Board of
Advisors, and a recipient of numerous MCMA awards and citations. A pioneer in his
field, Mr. Cuneo wrote and lectured extensively on all aspects of government contract
law for thirty years. As a commentator on developments in the field of government
contract law and as a premier litigator, he shaped much of the present law of government
contracts and was considered the “dean” of the Government Contract Bar until his death
in April 1978.

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