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Erin Rankin is a partner in the Government Contracts Group and is experienced in resolving government contract disputes with a particular focus on cost allowability, cost accounting issues, and DCAA audit findings. Erin also advises clients on all aspects of FAR and DFARS compliance in connection with the administration, performance, and closing out of government contracts. Erin has extensive experience representing government contractors before the Boards of Contract Appeals, defending companies against False Claims Act allegations, conducting internal investigations, and advocating for clients in mandatory disclosures and suspension and debarment proceedings.

What’s the Point?

To set the groundwork for future episodes, Nicole Owren-Wiest and Erin Rankin talk fundamentals: What is the purpose behind the often counter-intuitive and complex government contracts cost and pricing rules? What are the various price analysis techniques available to the world’s largest buyer of goods and services? “It All Adds Up” is

Our Two Cents

In this second inaugural episode of It All Adds Up, Nicole Owren-Wiest and Erin Rankin riff on why they care so much about government contracts cost and pricing – and why you should, too. “It All Adds Up” is Crowell & Moring’s podcast covering the latest government contract accounting, cost, and pricing

In Strategic Technology Institute, Inc. v. Sec’y of Def., 91 F.4th 1140 (Fed. Cir. 2024), the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision by the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA), which held that the government’s 2018 claim was not time-barred by the Contract Dispute Act’s (CDA) six-year statute of limitations.  The ASBCA found that the government’s claim did not begin to accrue until 2014, the date the government received the contractor’s indirect cost rate proposals for fiscal year (FY) 2008 and FY 2009. Continue Reading Start the Clock: Government’s Indirect Cost Rate Claim Accrued upon Submission of Indirect Cost Rate Proposal

On remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in ECC International Constructors, LLC, ASBCA Nos. 59586, 59643, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals concluded that, by waiting until after a hearing on the merits and six years after the appeal was filed, the government forfeited its right to challenge the contractor’s satisfaction of the FAR’s sum-certain requirement for Contract Disputes Act claims.Continue Reading Wait Too Long and You Might Miss Sum-Thing: ASBCA Again Underscores that Failure to Timely Raise Sum-Certain Defense Can Result in Forfeiture Under New Federal Circuit Precedent

Cost Accounting and the False Claims Act

In this episode, Jason Crawford, Agustin Orozco, and Erin Rankin look back at one of the more noteworthy settlements of 2023—the $377M settlement by Booz Allen Hamilton to resolve allegations arising out of the company’s purported non-compliance with Cost Accounting Standards. “Let’s Talk FCA” is Crowell & Moring’s

On December 20, 2023, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (Board) denied the government’s motion to dismiss a prime contractor’s pandemic-related claims filed on behalf of its subcontractors.  The Board rejected the government’s arguments that the claims failed to state any claims for relief that could be granted, were barred by the affirmative defense of sovereign acts, and failed to provide separate sums certain for purported sub-claims.   Continue Reading ASBCA Allows Subcontractors’ Pandemic-Related Claims to Move Forward

In ECC Int’l Constructors Inc. v. Army, No. 2021-2323 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 22, 2023), the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned longstanding precedent by holding that the requirement to state a “sum certain” in a claim submitted under the Contract Disputes Act (CDA) is not a jurisdictional requirement.  The Court based its decision on recent Supreme Court guidance to “treat a procedural requirement as jurisdictional only if Congress ‘clearly states’ that it is.”  The Court parsed the CDA and found that Congress never used the words “sum certain,” evidencing that Congress did not intend the requirement to be jurisdictional.  This is important because jurisdictional requirements can be raised at any time—even years after the claim was filed and a full hearing on the merits was held—and result in dismissal of the case.  The Court explained that the “sum certain” is “nonetheless a mandatory rule that claimants must follow.” Continue Reading Sum-Thing Is Missing from the Contract Disputes Act: Federal Circuit Holds that “Sum Certain” Requirement is Non-Jurisdictional

In Voxtel, Inc., ASBCA No. 60129 (March 9, 2023), the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) issued a decision that presents a primer on the resolution of indirect cost rate disputes.  The ASBCA granted the contractor’s appeal in part, finding that its claimed executive compensation and independent research and development (IR&D) costs were allowable, but that certain rental costs related to the “fit-up” of a leased facility were unallowable.

The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) performed “adequacy” and “nomenclature” reviews of Voxtel’s indirect cost rate proposals (or incurred cost proposals, “ICPs”) for fiscal years 2007 to 2009, but did not conduct audits.  The Contracting Officer (CO) then issued a final decision unilaterally setting indirect rates and finding that the ICPs included unallowable executive compensation, IR&D, and rental costs.  The contractor appealed. Continue Reading If At First You Don’t Succeed: Contractor Successfully Challenges Disallowed IR&D and Compensation Costs

In Triple Canopy, Inc., ASBCA Nos. 61415, et al. (March 23, 2023), the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) resolved a long-running dispute in favor of the contractor over reimbursement of fees imposed by the Afghan government on large security firms operating in the country. The ASBCA found the fees were akin to after-imposed taxes, reimbursable by the U.S. government, and not penalties for illegal conduct. 

Triple Canopy had six fixed-price contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to provide private security services to military bases in Afghanistan. These contracts, awarded between March 2009 and September 2010, required Triple Canopy to comply with local laws. The contracts also included FAR 52.229-6, Taxes-Foreign Fixed Price Contracts, which states that the contract price shall be increased by the amount of any after-imposed tax the contractor is required to pay. In March 2011, the Afghan government issued a directive limiting the number of employees of any private security company to 500, imposing a fee for each employee over the cap. Triple Canopy was assessed a fee in March 2011, with the right to appeal, and that same month, the DoD issued a memo to the Afghan government requesting that Triple Canopy be exempted from the 500-employee limit. Triple Canopy appealed the assessment, which the Afghan government reduced, and Triple Canopy paid the reduced amount in July 2011. Triple Canopy submitted claims to the Contracting Officer (CO) for reimbursement of the fees, and then appealed to the ASBCA on the basis of the CO’s deemed denials. The ASBCA initially found Triple Canopy’s claims were barred by the Contract Dispute Act’s six-year statute of limitations and denied the appeals, which the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded in Triple Canopy, Inc. v. Sec’y of Air Force, 14 F.4th 1332 (Fed. Cir. 2021). Continue Reading Third Time’s A Charm: Government Must Reimburse Triple Canopy for Afghan Taxes

On March 22, 2023, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued a final rule amending the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) to allow a procuring contracting officer (PCO) to delegate the authority to the contract administration office (CAO) to negotiate and settle direct costs questioned in an indirect cost rate proposal audit.  After the delegation