Mr. Dawson served as the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) (ASA(CW)) from December 1985 until May 1987. He was responsible for the activities of the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program, overseas national building programs, and the Panama Canal Commission activities. In this post, Mr. Dawson led a successful effort to enact the first Water Resources Development Act in 16 years which adopted the cost-sharing principals of his predecessors. He also led a significant reform of the Corps' complex regulatory program.
Prior to serving as the ASA(CW), Mr. Dawson was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works). From 1987 until 1989, Mr. Dawson served as Associate Director for Natural Resources, Science, and Technology, Office of Management and Budget. In this position, he was responsible for approximately one-fourth of the annual domestic budget and program policy of the United States, including the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Energy, NASA, Environmental Protection Agency, Tennessee Valley Authority, the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Program, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Smithsonian Institution, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the National Gallery of Art. As the Associate Director, Mr. Dawson brought to this job an unusual perspective, having previously served as Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) overseeing the program of the Army Corps of Engineers and having spent nearly a decade on Capitol Hill as a staff member on both sides of the political aisle.
Mr. Dawson left public service in January 1989, joined the Washington, D. C. government relations firm of Cassidy and Associates, where he served as Vice Chairman and headed a division which concentrated on Water Resources Development, Regulatory, Environmental and other infrastructure issues. On January 8, 1998, Mr. Dawson announced his departure from Cassidy and Associates to form his own government relations firm, Dawson & Associates, Inc.