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Nicole Owren-Wiest

Partner

nowrenwiest@crowell.com
Phone: +1 202.624.2863
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004-2595

Listed by Chambers USA
in Government Contracts
(2014-Present)


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, and leads the Group's cost accounting practice. With almost 20 years’ experience, Nicole advises contractors of all sizes across numerous industry segments, including many of the top defense government contractors and small businesses preparing to perform their first federal contract, and is a recognized leader in government contract cost accounting and intellectual property rights in government contracts.

Nicole has extensive experience helping companies navigate the government's complex cost and pricing rules—including the FAR Part 31 cost principles, the Cost Accounting Standards (CAS), commercial item and pricing rules, and Truthful Cost or Pricing Data (f/k/a TINA) requirements—and assisting clients to mitigate compliance risk by working with them to develop strategies, policies, procedures, systems, and internal controls to comply with these special rules and the standards for adequate business systems. Nicole also focuses much of her practice on counseling, dispute resolution, and litigation involving government data rights, and helping clients to develop strategies to maximize available protections in their intellectual property. 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 these and other areas.

Nicole regularly represents contractors in alternative dispute resolution and litigation of appeals before the courts and boards of contract appeals, and in connection with requests for equitable adjustment, claims preparation and negotiation, and terminations for convenience and default. She also conducts internal investigations and represents clients in connection with allegations of contractor fraud under the False Claims Act (FCA), violations of law and regulations, overpayments, and other alleged wrongdoing.

As a business-oriented thought leader in practice management, Nicole is a certified Legal Lean Sigma Institute (LLSI) Yellow Belt, and uses the LLSI process and project management tools to continually improve the value proposition the firm delivers to its clients. According to Chambers USA, clients have commended her for being "a true government contracts expert, with a client-oriented style, focus on practical results and sensitivity to business priorities."

Representative Matters

  • Successfully settled six ASBCA appeals concerning disputes arising under six URS Energy & Construction 2010 incurred cost submissions.
  • 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.
  • Successfully represented defense contractor in ASBCA appeal of government claim disallowing certain Independent Research & Development (IR&D) costs and executive compensation costs.
  • 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.
  • Lead counsel in successful defense of Starlite Aviation Group in Air Center Helicopters Inc. v. Starlite Investments Ireland Ltd et al. (N.D. Tex., Case No. 18-599), upholding a temporary injunction issued by the American Arbitration Association that granted Starlite the right to continue performing helicopter services in support of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan.  In seeking to vacate the AAA’s Injunction Order, Plaintiff argued the arbitrator exceeded his powers by granting Starlite relief under an implied-in-fact contract theory, and contemporaneously sought a preliminary injunction preventing Starlite from enforcing the AAA Injunction Order (which the parties briefed on an expedited basis). The Court rejected Plaintiff’s arguments and denied both motions.
  • Represented Valiant in its $135M acquisition of Cubic Global Defense Services, Inc., Valiant’s largest acquisition to date, adding 3,500 employees operating in 10 countries and thereby expanding Valiant’s employee count to more than 5,000 in more than 30 states and 20 countries.  Served as lead counsel responsible for diligence and transaction advice in the following areas: government contracts, labor and employment/benefits, cybersecurity/privacy, export controls, and national security. 
  • Represented DXC during its government contracts diligence of Vencore, Inc., leading to the separation of its US Public Sector business and combination with Vencore, Inc. and KeyPoint Government Solutions to form Perspecta.
  • Represented Supreme Foodservice GmbH in a series of appeals related to Supreme’s SPV contract to provide food, water, and other supplies to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The highlighted matter involves multiple consolidated appeals at the ASBCA involving government and contractor claims valued at over $11 billion. Nicole handled the oral argument of Supreme’s cross-motion for partial summary judgment, which the ASBCA granted in part (ASBCA Nos. 57884 et seq.) on the grounds that certain claims are barred by the Statute of Limitations or released.
  • Represents contractors in connection with government requests for validation and challenges to contractor data rights assertions, including appeals of contracting officer final decisions challenging contactor’s data rights assertions.
  • Successfully defended a major defense contractor in a qui tam action alleging defective pricing, convincing the government to decline to intervene and the relator to dismiss his complaint with prejudice.
  • Successfully defended a major defense contractor in a qui tam action alleging defective pricing and retaliation; convinced the government to decline to intervene and successfully resolved the relator’s retaliation claims.
  • Resolves government cost disallowances and claims asserting penalties for expressly unallowable costs, including complex cost accounting matters relating to compensation, bonuses and incentive pay, severance, pension, independent research and development (IR&D), bid and proposal (B&P), legal and consulting costs, external restructuring and organization, and other costs.
  • Counsels clients on CAS audit and compliance requirements and litigates client appeals of government CAS noncompliance claims.
  • Counsels clients on data rights, licensing and technology agreements, including agreements under Other Transaction Authority (OTAs), proprietary information and non-disclosure agreements, and other intellectual property issues, including patent rights under the Bayh-Dole Act and issues related to subject inventions.
  • Resolves and litigates disputes involving contractor and subcontractor assertions of limited and restricted rights in contractor technical data and computer software, markings, and the scope of the government’s rights in contractor intellectual property.
  • Conducts internal investigations regarding a wide variety of issues and defends clients in U.S. Department of Justice and inspector general investigations.
  • Litigates bid protests at federal agencies, the GAO, and the COFC. Successfully represented clients in protests before the GAO involving billions of dollars and those involving classified procurements.
    • Notable published decisions include: The Boeing Company, B-311344, et al., (co-counsel in successful protest and ultimate award of the $35 billion Air Force tanker contract); and Turner Construction, Inc. v. United States, 94 Fed.Cl. 586 (Fed.Cl.) (co-counsel—overturned GAO decision that had stripped $330 million contract from client, resulting in reinstatement of contract).

Recognition

  • Listed by Chambers USA as one of “Americas Leading Lawyers for Business” in Government Contracts (2014-2020), particularly recognized for her skills in the area of cost accounting, and “Americas Leading Lawyers for Business - Up and Coming” (2011-2013)
  • Named by The Legal 500 US as a “recommended lawyer” in Government Contracts (2015-2017)
  • Acritas Star, Acritas Stars Independently Rated Lawyers (2019)

Education

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

Affiliations

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-Present)
  • 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-Present), 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

Board of Directors, Mary Leonard Law Society (1998-2000)
National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), Procurement Division

  • Contract Finance Committee
  • Procurement Planning Committee

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

View More

"Cost and Pricing Trends - What's New with Oversight at DCAA and DCMA", 25th Annual Government Contracting Virtual Conference (October 27, 2020). Presenter: Nicole Owren-Wiest.
Speech/Presentation
"Accounting, Cost, and Pricing," OOPS 20/20 - Setting Your Sights (October 20, 2020). Presenters: Nicole Owren-Wiest, Skye Mathieson, Catherine O. Shames, and Sean K. Griffin.
Speech/Presentation
"Costs and Pricing: No Contract is Really Final," Government Contracts "101" - Back to Basics Webinar (September 23, 2020). Presenters: Nicole Owren-Wiest, Skye Mathieson, and Charles Baek.
Speech/Presentation
"COVID-19 Claims and Requests for Equitable Adjustment Q&A Webinar — 'Tick Tock – Submitting COVID-19 Related Claims and REAs as the Government Fiscal Year Draws to a Close'" Crowell & Moring Webinar (September 17, 2020). Presenters: Stephen J. McBrady, Nicole Owren-Wiest, Skye Mathieson, and Michelle D. Coleman.
Speech/Presentation
"“Show Us the Money (Trail)”: Estimated Subcontract Costs Disallowed for Lack of Proof," Government Contracts Bullet Points (September 2, 2020). Contacts: Stephen J. McBrady, Nicole Owren-Wiest, Skye Mathieson, Sean K. Griffin
Client Alert / Newsletter
"Fastest 5 Minutes: Section 3610 News and Regulatory Developments (August 26)," Podcast: Fastest 5 Minutes in Government Contracts (August 26, 2020). Contacts: Peter Eyre, Nicole Owren-Wiest
Client Alert / Newsletter
"Stop in the Name of Fraud?: After-the-Fact Fraud Allegation Does Not Divest ASBCA of Jurisdiction," Government Contracts Bullet Points (August 21, 2020). Contacts: Stephen J. McBrady, Nicole Owren-Wiest, Michelle D. Coleman, Skye Mathieson, John Nakoneczny
Client Alert / Newsletter
"New DoD Guidance Clarifies, and Restricts, Recovery under § 3610," Government Contracts Bullet Points (August 20, 2020). Contacts: Nicole Owren-Wiest, J. Chris Haile, Skye Mathieson, Alexandra Barbee-Garrett
Client Alert / Newsletter
"Federal Circuit Affirms Jurisdiction Over Claim Challenging Legality of FAR Provision," Government Contracts Bullet Points (August 12, 2020). Contacts: Nicole Owren-Wiest, Alan W. H. Gourley, Skye Mathieson, Sean K. Griffin
Client Alert / Newsletter
"Independent Public Accountants," Government Contracts Bullet Points (August 5, 2020). Contact: Nicole Owren-Wiest
Client Alert / Newsletter

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Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with more than 500 lawyers representing clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory, and transactional matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity. The firm has offices in Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, London, Brussels, and Shanghai.

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