A recent Loose Lips column (7/24) suggested that the D.C. control board was motivated by cronyism when it awarded a contract to Arnold & Porter to draft some of the regulatory reform regulations. In fact, the control board bent over backward to spread the legal work around to make sure no firm could claim that it had a lock on the control board’s business.

As consultants for the control board, the Holland & Knight/GW/Nathan Associates team drafted the blueprint for getting rid of red tape in the District government in several areas, including land use, business and professional licenses, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation, street vending, and parking. We built on the work of Doug Patton and the Business Regulatory Reform Commission he chaired.

The control board divided our recommendations into nine tasks for the purposes of drafting regulations. It awarded three tasks to Holland & Knight, four tasks to Arnold & Porter, and two tasks to Wilkes, Artis on the basis of competitive bids. While Holland & Knight certainly did not benefit from the control board’s decision to spread out the work, I have no question that the decision was motivated by the desire to benefit the city, rather than a desire to reward a law firm at which the control board’s general counsel once worked.

The regulatory reform work itself is proceeding at lightning speed. The consultants have turned in draft regulations, which should soon be available for public comment. Camille Barnett and the control board are buying new computers for the city and hiring new managers to implement the management reform recommendations. Within a year, the District of Columbia will be competitive with any city in the country in the efficiency with which it regulates business. The control board deserves credit for leading the city in regulatory reform.

Holland & Knight