Photograph of Nicole Owren-Wiest

Nicole Owren-Wiest


Listed by Chambers USA
in Government Contracts

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).

While she is an accomplished litigator with significant Contract Disputes Act experience, Nicole’s main strength lies in her ability to combine thoughtful legal analysis with real-world practical advice. Nicole is focused on efficiency, extremely responsive, and brings an aggressive but practical, “big picture” approach to solving her clients’ problems and resolving disputes. Clients have commended Nicole for her client-oriented style and sensitivity to business priorities, including “seeing beyond our immediate needs to help us address issues before they become risks or concerns,” and for her ability to “combine scholarly legal analysis with such practical, solution-focused insight.” As such, clients routinely turn to Nicole to resolve DCAA and DCMA audit findings and cost accounting/pricing and data rights disputes (pre- and post-contracting officer’s final decision), and when faced with high-stakes, bet-the-company compliance matters and litigation.

In addition to her cost accounting and data rights expertise, her practice includes claims, False Claims Act investigations and litigation, and other compliance matters. Nicole also regularly speaks at government and industry events around the country, and provides on-site training to legal and executive teams on a range of topics.

Recent Representative Matters

  • Ongoing representation of multiple contractors in appeals before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) involving government claims for alleged non-compliance with the Cost Accounting Standards (including CAS 401, 402, 403, 418, and 420, and collectively seeking over $2 billion).
  • Ongoing representation of several defense contractors in connection with pension segment closing adjustments under CAS 413.
  • Ongoing representation of multiple defense contractors in pre- and post-COFD claims involving allowability of costs under FAR Part 31, and in connection with pre-COFD CAS disputes.
  • Ongoing representation of multiple defense contractors before the ASBCA in disputes regarding the government's rights in contractor technical data and computer software.
  • Successful, zero-dollar resolution of a pre-COFD $52 million government claim under a special “price reopener” clause.
  • Successfully represented major defense contractor in ASBCA appeal of $24 million government defective pricing claim.
  • Successfully represented major defense contractor in ASBCA appeal of alleged violation of CAS 414.
  • Successful resolution of contracting officer final determinations asserting violations of CAS 410 and CAS 418 against a major defense contractor.
  • Obtained dismissal of government claim for executive compensation costs in Appeals of J.F. Taylor, Inc., ASBCA No. 56105, 56322, in which the Board found the DCAA executive compensation review method fatally flawed statistically, and denied the government’s motion for reconsideration.  Since the decision, Nicole has successfully resolved numerous executive compensation claims pre- and post-contracting officer’s final decision without litigation.
  • Obtained pre-discovery summary judgment for Sparton DeLeon Springs based on the Contract Disputes Act’s statute of limitations in an appeal before the ASBCA (No. 60416) of a government claim demanding repayment of direct costs (ASBCA No. 60416). The Board rejected the Government’s argument that its right to audit under the Allowable Cost and Payment clause effectively tolls the CDA’s six-year statute of limitations, and denied the government's motion for reconsideration.


  • Listed by Chambers USA as one of “Americas Leading Lawyers for Business” in Government Contracts (2014-2021), and specifically recognized in the “Cost Dispute Spotlight” (2021) for her skills in the area of cost accounting, and “Americas Leading Lawyers for Business - Up and Coming” (2011-2013)
  • Acritas Star, Acritas Stars Independently Rated Lawyers (2019, 2021)
  • Named by The Legal 500 US as a “recommended lawyer” in Government Contracts (2015-2017)


  • Minnesota State University, B.S.
  • Willamette University College of Law, J.D.


Admitted to practice: District of Columbia, Washington, U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Ninth and Federal Circuits, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, U.S. Court of Federal Claims

Professional Activities and Memberships

American Bar Association (ABA), Section of Public Contract Law

  • Section Nominating Committee (2016-2017)
  • Publications Board (2016-2019)
  • Former Co-Chair (2008-2012), Vice-Chair (2012-Present), Accounting, Cost and Pricing Committee
  • Former Co-Chair (2013-2016), Vice-Chair (Present), Research & Development and Intellectual Property Committee
  • Member, Commercial Products and Services Committee
  • Editor-in-Chief (2011-2019), Senior Editor (2010-2011) and Associate Editor (2007-2010), The Procurement Lawyer
  • Co-Chair, San Francisco Annual Program (2013)

American Bar Association, Litigation Section
Federal Circuit Bar Association

  • Vice Chair, Government Contracts and Construction Law Committee

National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), Procurement Division

  • Contract Finance Committee

U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Procurement Council (2013-Present)

View More

Legal 500 United States Ranks Crowell & Moring in Eight Practice Areas in 2022 Guide (June 15, 2022)
Firm News / Announcement
Chambers USA 2022 Ranks 70 Crowell & Moring Lawyers and 37 Practice Areas Among Best in U.S. (June 1, 2022)
Firm News / Announcement
"“Drum” Roll: ASBCA Sides with the Government in Denying COVID-19 Related Costs to Contractor," Government Contracts Bullet Points (May 23, 2022). Contacts: Stephen J. McBrady, Nicole Owren-Wiest, Skye Mathieson, Michelle D. Coleman, John Nakoneczny
Client Alert / Newsletter
"“Thank you . . . for trusting us!” Commercial Software Licensor Has a Valid Claim for Copyright Infringement Under 28 U.S.C. § 1498 for Government’s Over-Installation of Copies," (May 19, 2022). Contacts: Nicole Owren-Wiest, John E. McCarthy Jr., Jonathan M. Baker, William H. Frankel, Michael E. Samuels
Client Alert / Newsletter
"Follow the Money: Contractor Cannot Recover Corporate Affiliate’s Costs for Tax Assessments," Government Contracts Bullet Points (April 13, 2022). Contacts: Nicole Owren-Wiest, Erin Rankin, Matthew D. Lewis
Client Alert / Newsletter
"Just the (Same) Facts, Ma’am: ASBCA has Jurisdiction to Hear Contractor’s Different Theories of Recovery Based on the Same Set of Operative Facts," Government Contracts Bullet Points (April 5, 2022). Contacts: Nicole Owren-Wiest, Erin Rankin, Catherine O. Shames
Client Alert / Newsletter
"President Biden’s Executive Order Mandates Project Labor Agreements for All “Large-Scale” Federal Construction Projects," Labor & Employment Law Alert - US (February 8, 2022). Contacts: Peter Eyre, Thomas P. Gies, Kris D. Meade, Nicole Owren-Wiest, Eric Su, Jessica S. Nam
Client Alert / Newsletter
"Software License Alone Does Not Provide CDA Jurisdiction at CBCA," Government Contracts Bullet Points (January 26, 2022). Contacts: Stephen J. McBrady, Alan W. H. Gourley, Nicole Owren-Wiest, John E. McCarthy Jr., Jonathan M. Baker, Christopher D. Garcia, John Nakoneczny
Client Alert / Newsletter
"To Be, or Not to Be: The ASBCA Holds that a Cost is Not “Incurred” Without a Legal Obligation to Pay," Government Contracts Bullet Points (January 18, 2022). Contacts: Nicole Owren-Wiest, Erin Rankin, Amanda H. McDowell
Client Alert / Newsletter
"Federal Circuit Vacates COFC Decision Entitling Contractor to Damages for Breach of Implied Warranty Because the Contractor Did Not Present the Claim to the CO," Government Contracts Bullet Points (January 7, 2022). Contacts: Stephen J. McBrady, Nicole Owren-Wiest, Michelle D. Coleman, Erin Rankin, Eric Herendeen
Client Alert / Newsletter

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Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with offices in the United States, Europe, MENA, and Asia that represents clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory and policy, and transactional and corporate matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation and government-facing matters, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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