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Nicole Owren-Wiest is a partner and member of the Steering Committee of Crowell & Moring’s Government Contracts Group in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. Nicole is nationally ranked by Chambers USA in Government Contracts and a recognized leader in two of the most complex areas in government contracting: accounting, cost, and pricing, and intellectual property/data rights. With over 20 years’ experience, Nicole has a broad counseling and dispute-resolution practice and leads the Group’s cost accounting practice, which focuses on helping clients navigate the government’s complex cost and pricing rules, including the FAR Part 31 cost principles, the Cost Accounting Standards (CAS), and Truth in Negotiations Act/Truthful Cost or Pricing Data (defective pricing).

Cards Face Up

Nicole Owren-Wiest and Erin Rankin talk TINA. What is the Truthful Cost or Pricing Data Act, formerly known as the Truth in Negotiations Act? When are contractors and subcontractors required to provide certified cost or pricing data? And what does Nicole’s Cookie Monster coffee mug have to do with it?

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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

In Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. United States, No. 23-629C (Fed. Cl. 2024), 2024 WL 201890, the Court of Federal Claims (COFC) addressed whether government disclosure of a company’s trade secrets and commercial information could create a viable claim for a taking under the Fifth Amendment or for breach of an implied-in-fact contract.  The company, Vanda Pharmaceuticals (Vanda), claimed that the government’s disclosure of its confidential trade secrets—including its trademarked drugs’ dissolution rates—to competitors seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of generic drug alternatives was an unlawful regulatory taking that diminished the value of Vanda’s brand name drugs and infringed upon Vanda’s right to exclude generics from the market.  The government moved to dismiss Vanda’s claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim.  The COFC denied the government’s motion in part, holding as a matter of first impression that Vanda adequately stated a takings claim based on the government’s disclosures but failed to state a claim for breach of an implied-in-fact contract.  The COFC also held that Vanda’s claims involving one generic drug manufacturer were outside the Tucker Act’s six-year statute of limitations and were time barred. Continue Reading Does Government Disclosure of a Company’s Trade Secrets Amount to an Unlawful Taking Under the Fifth Amendment?  

In Aviation Training Consulting, LLC, ASBCA No. 63634 (Jan. 11, 2024), the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) confirmed that a contractor’s properly asserted claim for relief under Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a claim under the Contract Disputes Act (CDA) and denied the Air Force’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.Continue Reading Who CARES? The ASBCA Might.

In JE Dunn Construction Company, ASBCA No. 63183, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (“ASBCA”) issued its first published decision applying the Federal Circuit’s recent holding that the FAR sum-certain requirement for Contract Disputes Act claims is not jurisdictional. The Board held that, because the government did not raise the issue until after a hearing on the merits, the government forfeited its right to challenge the contractor’s satisfaction of the sum-certain requirement.Continue Reading Use It or Lose It: ASBCA Finds That the Government Forfeited its Sum-Certain Defense

The Department of Defense recently issued a long-awaited final rule prohibiting DoD prime contractors from “flowing down” FAR and DFARS clauses in subcontracts for commercial products or services, unless flowdown is specified by regulation. This rule implements language, dating from the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, intended to reduce administrative burdens on DoD contractors and subcontractors by adding a prohibition on extraneous flowdowns at DFARS 252.244-7000 Subcontracts for Commercial Products or Commercial Services.Continue Reading Be Careful What You Wish For: Limited Commercial Subcontract Flowdowns May Increase Administrative Burdens

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