The Government Contracts practice group at Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger consists of a team of experienced lawyers representing clients in all manner of government procurement matters. Our work centers on contracting activities of the federal government, but we also have familiarity with state and local government procurement. We pride ourselves on working efficiently and effectively to advance our clients' business objectives regarding the provision of goods and services to government entities.
The members of our Government Contracts practice group have previous experience working, variously, in procurement for federal agencies, in the specialized courts and boards dealing with government contracts cases, in law enforcement agencies, in private industry and in the field of government contracts in private legal practice.
The firm's government contracts practice traces back to the firm's origins in the mid-1960s, when Gene Zuckert (former Secretary of the Air Force) left government service and resumed private practice. The practice now involves all facets of government contracts, and several members of our group devote their time exclusively to government contracts matters.
We provide clients with advice on how to obtain federal and other contracts. We assist in negotiating contract awards. We represent clients in bid protests. We work with clients on contract administration and audit issues. We engage in contract litigation and arbitration. We provide clients with legislative advice and assistance, including contacts with members of Congress and the staffs of pertinent congressional committees and contacts with federal agency officials.
We count among our clients certain very large national and international corporations. We also represent many smaller firms. We work with both prime contractors and subcontractors. Our client list includes manufacturers, suppliers and service contractors. Some are companies engaged exclusively in government contracts work, but others only occasionally perform government contracts.
Our services for clients include keeping them abreast of current developments in government contract law that may affect their business interests. This includes advising clients with respect to important legislative, regulatory and case law developments. We provide all of our clients with timely memoranda discussing significant developments of general interest such as new procurement laws enacted by Congress, changes to and interpretations of the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and current case law decisions.
The major areas of government contracts practiced by attorneys at the firm include the following:
We have substantial experience dealing with the intersection of bankruptcy and government contracts. We have advised government contracts clients contemplating or otherwise facing bankruptcy proceedings regarding the implications of such proceedings for their government contracts. We have acted as counsel to debtors-in-possession with respect to government contracts claims and issues. We have acted as special counsel to bankruptcy trustees in matters relating to government contracts. We have represented subcontractors faced with the bankruptcy of prime contractors.
We have represented clients in bid protests, participating in proceedings before the Government Accountability Office and various federal government procuring agencies, such as the FAA’s Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition. We advise clients filing protests as well as clients who have been awarded contracts and then must defend against protests filed by disappointed bidders.
Contract Administration And Audit Issues; Alternative Dispute Resolution
Much of our government contracts experience involves working with clients to resolve the many issues that arise during performance of a federal contract. Among other matters, these include identification of compensatory contract changes, interpretation of FAR requirements, applicability of CAS standards, and audits by the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Our goal is always to resolve performance issues satisfactorily before they ripen into formal disputes.
Similarly, our philosophy is to explore administrative resolution of government contract disputes before resorting to litigation. To this end, we have prepared and successfully negotiated numerous equitable adjustment requests and Contract Disputes Act claims on behalf of clients. We also recommend alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods in appropriate situations, such as the use of arbitration, mediation and mini-trials.
Our experience teaches that many contract performance problems can be avoided by education and training of contractor personnel. To this end, we have prepared in-house training programs for clients, including presentations for companies with little or no experience with government contracts.
Contract Negotiation and Award
We regularly work with clients seeking to obtain government contract awards. We have broad experience with the Federal Acquisition Regulations and the Cost Accounting Standards.
Our advice covers fixed-price, cost-reimbursement and time-and-materials contracts, including the multiple award schedules and commercial item contracts increasingly used by Federal agencies.
We have also worked extensively in the area of sole source contracts. We advise clients on a range of contract formation issues, including cost and pricing issues raised by the Truth In Negotiations Act.
We have represented clients confronted with both terminations for convenience and terminations for default under government contracts.
We work with clients regarding the export of U.S. goods and technology to foreign governments and private concerns. Our work has involved obtaining export licenses from the State Department's Office of Defense Trade Controls for items on the U.S. Munitions List, as well as licenses from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Export Administration for articles subject to the Commodity Control List, including dual use items.
Fraudulent Practice Allegations and Internal Investigations
With the heavy federal emphasis on ferreting out fraud, waste and abuse in government contracts, we play three significant roles for our clients: educational, investigative, and advisory. We develop corporate compliance and crime prevention manuals and present compliance training programs for government contractors, and we work closely with our clients to explain the labyrinth of applicable federal statutes and regulations. These include the False Claims Act, the False Statements Act, the Truth in Negotiations Act and the Anti-Kickback Act. We conduct internal reviews and investigations for clients, some triggered by questions raised internally, and some prompted by external complaints or investigations.
We represent clients in connection with government investigations, in response to threatened civil and/or criminal enforcement actions, and with respect to suspension and debarment proceedings.
Intellectual Property Rights
The ownership and use of technical data and computer software that may be created or delivered in connection with government contracts often present a conflict between the government's interests and those of contractors. As a result, we have considerable familiarity with the concepts of patents, copyrights, trademarks and licenses under government contracts.
Much of our work has involved international government contracting. This entails representing U.S. clients with contracts awarded or administered by U.S. federal agencies abroad, and representing foreign firms contracting with various U.S. Government agencies. Among the issues frequently encountered in international contracting, we often provide guidance to clients regarding compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Labor And Employment Matters
We regularly advise our clients with government contracts on labor and employment issues unique to federal contracting, including questions arising under the Service Contract Act and the Davis-Bacon Act. We also have worked with clients on labor issues involving the interplay between federal and state law.
Litigation and Arbitration
We engage in litigation and arbitration proceedings for our government contract clients. We regularly practice before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, agency boards of contract appeals and federal district and appellate courts. Before initiating litigation on behalf of any client, we bring to bear this varied experience in advising as to the best forum for the particular case.
We are acutely aware of the costs and inefficiencies attendant to lawsuits today in the courts of the United States, and we also recognize that litigation can place tremendous demands upon the time and energy of the parties.
Our attorneys are committed to exploring the most cost-effective means of achieving our client's goals. To that end, in appropriate situations we recommend arbitration of disputes. We often represent clients in arbitration proceedings under the rules of the American Arbitration Association, but also under a variety of international procedures including those of the International Chamber of Commerce. We make active use of alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation and mini-trials.
Small Business Matters
We have worked with clients on a variety of small business matters. This entails familiarity with small business determinations and certifications, small business set-asides and small disadvantaged business programs. We also represent clients in size protests. In applicable situations, we pursue reimbursement from federal agencies for litigation costs incurred by small business clients under the Equal Access to Justice Act.