VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL COUNSEL
GENERAL DYNAMICS MISSION SYSTEMS
Devon Engel is Vice President and General Counsel of General Dynamics Mission Systems, which is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia. With approximately 13,000 employees worldwide, Mission Systems connects users and protects their communications and information across land, sea, air, space and cyber domains. The company develops, builds, hardens, secures, tests and integrates complex communications systems, networks and products and provides the highest level of support solutions. Its customers span across global defense, civilian and commercial markets.
Devon earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. He earned his law degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he graduated with honors and was a member of the Law Review.
After working as a research assistant for Professors Nash and Cibinic at GW Law, Devon started his career at Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C., where he specialized in government contract law. In 1996, Devon moved to Scottsdale to work in-house for Motorola’s military electronics business. Devon played a significant role in the sale of that business to General Dynamics in 2001 which is now part of General Dynamics Mission Systems. Devon has been active in the government contract legal community throughout his career and has published numerous articles and lectured frequently on government contract and other legal topics.
ExecutiveBiz: What legal barriers do you see as ones that can be changed to facilitate more collaboration between contractors and the government?
Devon Engel: If we limit this discussion to legal issues, I believe the primary barrier is self-created and overcome by initiative and effort. There is very little preventing contractor and government lawyers from working together. It just takes some initiative.
With few exceptions, when our lawyers have reached out to their government counterparts (or vice versa) we have achieved excellent results. Whether it be reaching out to DCMA lawyers early to deal with a cost or novation issue, DoD program legal counsel to address a data rights issue or brewing dispute, or OSD counsel to discuss an ethics question, we typically achieve more efficient resolutions and more satisfactory results for both sides.
Of course one of the keys to successfully working together is being a straight shooter and having a good reputation. The government contracts legal community is relatively small. If you don’t know a lawyer you are dealing with on a matter, it is not hard to find someone who does. Perhaps that is one of the reasons our bar enjoys a high level of civility. With that advantage, the key to successful collaboration is simply taking the first step to connect.