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The U.S. procurement market is one of the largest in the world, and the procurement law which guides that market, a regulatory regime which is both complex and mature, offers important lessons for other procurement systems around the world. This article provides a modest introduction to U.S. procurement law – especially federal procurement law, which generally is more extensively developed than state or local procurement law – and suggests possible lessons learned that may be useful for other systems. The article proceeds in several parts. The article reviews the history of the federal procurement system, which can be traced to the Revolutionary War, and the separate contract administration regime that the federal government has developed. The article discusses access to the market and the leading procurement methods, with a special emphasis on the multilateral competitive negotiations which had, by the end of the twentieth century, become a mainstay of complex federal procurements. The article reviews the leading contract types in U.S. procurement, and explains the strategic advantage that the United States gains through an effective cost-reimbursement contracting system. Finally, the article discusses bid challenges (called “bid protests” in the United States) by disappointed bidders, and reviews other anti-corruption strategies used in the U.S. system.

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GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2017-75; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-75

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