Background - Practices (Details)

National Laboratories


Crowell & Moring attorneys are highly experienced in working with and assisting contractors who manage and operate the Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories with a wide variety of issues. Our team is led by Gail Zirkelbach, a government contracts and investigations partner with over 30 years of experience representing government contractors, including DOE Management & Operating (M&O) contractors. Crowell understands the complexities unique to M&O contracts and we counsel national laboratory operators on a range of issues, including: contract negotiation with both the Government and subcontractors; subcontractor disputes; internal and government agency investigations; transitions of M&O contractors; compliance with the unique DOE statutes and regulations; cost allowability issues; award fee issues; and other government contracting issues. Ms. Zirkelbach and the Crowell team are assisted by corporate partners who have extensive experience in drafting and negotiating teaming agreements and the establishment of a variety of corporate entities, including joint ventures, and IP/cybersecurity partners who have extensive experience assisting M&O contractors navigate the complex IP intellectual property and cyber requirements inherent in operating a national laboratory. In addition, we rely on tax, environmental and labor attorneys to provide specific assistance as issues develop.

In addition, our vast experience with the nuts and bolts of government contracting allows us to advise DOE contractors on a variety of important issues that affect all government contractors, including data rights and intellectual property, cost accounting, cybersecurity, export control, small business requirements, and public sector compliance issues. Our extensive experience in government contracts dispute resolution, including claims, terminations, prime/sub disputes, bid protests and procurement fraud litigation, uniquely positions the Crowell team to assist operators of national laboratories in preventing or resolving such disputes.

Moreover, when an M&O contractor becomes embroiled in civil litigation, Crowell is able to both represent the contractor in the litigation and with DOE with respect to the conduct of that litigation.

Crowell is also well positioned to assist operators of national laboratories in pre-award activities, such as solicitation reviews and proposal preparation, and post-award activities including bid protests, and in navigating the complex transitions to between M&O contractors. Our recent experience includes:

  • Assisted with negotiations of M&O contracts and modifications. 
  • Assisted in breach of contract disputes with subcontractors.
  • Represented in civil litigation and interfaced with DOE regarding that litigation. 
  • Conducted numerous internal investigations and provided advise responding to external investigations.
  • Assisted with cost allowability disputes with the DOE, including responding to notices of intent to disallow costs.
  • Assisted in disputes with DOE regarding award fee issues.
  • Provided guidance on small business issues.
  • Provided extensive assistance to a new contractor for a national laboratory to ensure the successful transition of the assets and people necessary for uninterrupted operation of the lab from the prior operator to the new operator. 
  • Assisted a new contractor with the successful completion of the Transition Readiness Review with the DOE.