President Donald Trump's efforts to involve himself in the federal contracting process through Twitter are unprecedented, and could inadvertently drive up costs or touch off lawsuits if he doesn't soon take a more hands-off approach, attorneys said.
Presidents using their "bully pulpit" — a term coined by President Theodore Roosevelt — to promote their agendas is nothing new, attorneys noted. But Trump's use of Twitter to cajole, criticize and otherwise attempt to influence companies takes the practice to a different level, they said.
And his rhetoric may prove to be counterproductive to his aims of slashing government spending and increasing jobs in the U.S. It's likely to have a depressive effect on the industry, McCarter & English LLP government contracts practice group leader Franklin Turner claimed.
"I don't think he fully comprehends the chilling effect that [his tweets] actually have on the supplier base," Franklin said. "If you're a company ... are you going to want to enter into negotiations to supply things to the government, knowing that you have a head of state that is somewhat prone to volatility through his mobile phone?"
The F-35 program alone relies on around 1,250 U.S.-based suppliers and employs about 146,000 workers in the U.S. down the supply chain, Turner noted. And acquisition programs of the size and complexity of the F-35 program — a program estimated to cost around $380 billion — are years if not decades in the planning, attorneys said.
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