Suspension & debarment, bid protests, claims, investigations
Creative problem solver
Chambers USA: “outstanding strategist, good communicator, has an excellent bedside manner with executives and boards under stress…”
Robert Nichols helps government contractors solve complex legal problems and achieve their desired business solutions. Robert has led several of the highest-profile matters in the industry, from a $10.5 billion bid protest at the Court of Federal Claims, to lawsuits arising from the Cuban government’s imprisonment of a contractor for espionage, to managing parallel investigations by two Agency Offices of Inspector General, two Suspension and Debarment Officials, the Department of Justice, and a Congressional oversight committee.
Prior to founding Nichols Liu, Robert was a partner and co-chair of the Government Contracts group at Covington & Burling, where he helped lead and grow the practice to over fifty attorneys. He also has been a partner at Crowell & Moring and served both at the White House and as a Judge Advocate General at the Army Corps of Engineers.
According to Chambers USA (2015): “Clients say: ‘Robert Nichols is an outstanding strategist, good communicator, has an excellent bedside manner with executives and boards under stress, and good and timely follow-through.’ He is praised for his creative and entrepreneurial approach to issues across a broad range of industries.”
- Georgetown University Law Center, LL.M., 1997
- Arizona State University College of Law, J.D., 1994
- Northern Arizona University, B.S., 1991
Bar and Court Admissions
- District of Columbia Bar
- U.S. Virgin Islands Bar
- U.S. Court of Federal Claims
- U.S. Supreme Court
- Chambers USA
- Law360 MVP in Government Contracts
- Legal 500
- Super Lawyers, Government Contracts
Practice & Expertise
- International Contracting
- Competition & Bid Protests
- Internal and Government Investigations
- Suspension & Debarment
- Audits & Claims
- Crisis Management
- Government Business Acceleration
- Resolved hotly-contested construction disputes on U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, where thousands of questioned deviations from specifications were preventing the U.S. State Department’s acceptance of the sprawling compound. Demonstrated in senior-level meetings and on-the-ground inspections that the project was materially compliant, leading to acceptance and the resolution of investigations by multiple agencies and Congress.
- Successfully protested the terms of a $2 billion USAID procurement for consulting services related to economic growth and poverty reduction, convincing the Agency to abandon its use of the “low cost, technically acceptable” evaluation scheme by arguing that LPTA was inappropriate for the complex, high-stakes services being sought.
- Resolved tort claims arising from the incarceration of U.S. subcontractor for espionage by negotiating a creative settlement of the tort suit, converting that tort settlement into a contract claim by the prime contractor, and successfully negotiating payment to compensate the subcontractor while making the prime contractor whole.
- Assisted small and foreign contractors in developing business with U.S. government customers, from commercial-item products to custom cyber technologies.
- Advised multiple sellers of military products to foreign governments through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) processes, gaining approval from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency for the sales and for using financing from FMF and commercial banks to enable the transactions.
- Successfully defended a $1 billion award for embassy services against protests by three competitors, persuaded the Agency to override the automatic stay of contract performance, and then successfully defended the override before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
- Successfully protested the award of a contract to help reform the justice system in Mexico, obtaining corrective action that involved new final proposal revisions; and when our client won the second round award, successfully defended a challenge by the prior awardee and preserved the award to the client.
- Represented a medium-sized government contractor in growing to $2 billion in annual revenue through both organic growth and six different M&A transactions.
- When a voluntary disclosure to USAID by one of its largest not-for-profits led the Agency to suspend the entity for potential false claims and lack of internal controls, the board of directors hired Robert to lead the matter. When the Agency refused to lift the suspension due to the lack of trustworthy internal controls and the entity was on the brink of shutting its doors, Robert successfully negotiated a grand bargain to transfer nearly all of the programs, assets, and employees to another not-for-profit and settle the False Claims Act (FCA) investigation.
- Helped a major USAID contractor navigate the Organizational Conflicts of Interest (OCI) rules and requirements resulting from an acquisition that involved significant monitoring and evaluation services.
- Filed a Supreme Court amicus brief on behalf of a government contractor trade association in support of a U.S. Navy contractor asserting the application of derivative sovereign immunity and the government contractor defense.
- Assisted a coalition of nonprofit organizations in revising internal policies and standard sub-agreements to account for completely revamped uniform grant requirements that impose significant new burdens on the sub-award process.
- Represented an embassy contractor in an oversight hearing conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform concerning the contractor’s construction practices.
- Cybersecurity as an Insecurity in the FCA Space (June 5, 2019) Co-Authors: Andy Liu, Robert Nichols & Jason C. Lynch
- Getting Investigations Right: Best Practices for Navigating Common and Divergent Interests (May 21, 2019) Co-Authors: Annie Kim, Adrian Wigston, Andy Liu, Robert Nichols
- GAO Sustains Protest Where Agency Said Too Much and Too Little During Discussions (May 17, 2019) Co-Authors: Robert Nichols and Andrew Victor
- Getting Disclosures Right: Navigating Risks and Inconsistencies Between Regulations and Agency Expectations (April 25, 2019) Co-Authors: Annie Kim, Adrian Wigston, Andy Liu, Robert Nichols
- Appeal Rights and Processes for Cooperative Agreements: the Federal Circuit Weighs In (April 17, 2019) Co-Authors: Robert Nichols and Andrew Victor
- Protester Defeats Post-Hoc Rationalizations Advanced by Agency for Bid Protest Win (April 5, 2019) Co-Authors: Robert Nichols and Andrew Victor
- The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals Explains Preemption and CDA Jurisdiction in Denying Government Motion to Dismiss, Nichols Liu LLP (February 22, 2018). Co-Authors: Robert Nichols and Andrew Victor
- Cybersecurity for Government Contractors: DoD Looking for More Practical Oversight, Nichols Liu LLP (February 22, 2018). Co-Authors: Robert Nichols and Andrew Victor
- Afghan Taxes: Amnesty Program Deadline Creates Urgency for Contractors to Address Longstanding Legal Questions, PubK (December 3, 2018). Co-Authors: Robert Nichols, Andrew Victor, and Adrian Wigston
- Does the Christian Doctrine Apply to Commercial-Item Contracts? The Federal Circuit Misses the Mark in K-Con, Inc. v. Secretary of the Army, (November 9, 2018). Co-Authors: Robert Nichols, Rick Claybrook, Jason Lynch, Andrew Victor.
- Forcing the Agency To Buy Commercial Items: The Federal Circuit’s Protest Decision in Palantir USG, Inc. v. United States, (October 22, 2018). Co-Authors: Robert Nichols, Andrew Victor, Rebekah Woods.
- Technical Direction Letters Can Constitute Protestable Out-of Scope Modifications, (September 11, 2018). Co-Authors: Robert Nichols, Andy Liu, Jason C. Lynch, Andrew Victor, Rebekah Woods.
- Prepare to “Deliver Uncompromised,” (August 20, 2018). Co-Authors: Robert Nichols, Andy Liu, Jason C. Lynch, and Andrew Victor.
- Legal Standards Governing Agency “Choice of Instrument” Determinations in the ‘Third Party Situation.” Author: Robert Nichols
- Cybersecurity for Government Contractors (April, 2014). Author:Robert Nichols, Susan Booth Cassidy, Anuj Vohra, Kayleigh Scalzo, Catlin Meade
- Myth-Busting the LPTA Conundrum (December 18, 2013). Author:Robert Nichols
- Contractor Responsibility: Toward an Integrated Approach to Legal Risk Management (March 2013). Author:Steven A. Shaw, Mike Wagner, Robert Nichols
- Integrated Approach to Legal Risk Management. Briefing Papers (March 2013). Author: Steve Shaw, Mike Wagner, Robert Nichols
- Iraq Reconstruction Contracting: Widespread Difficulties In Record-Keeping And The Contractor’s Burden Of Proof, International Government Contractor, Vol. 2, No. 5 (May 2005). Author: Robert Nichols.
- Public-Private Partnerships: Evolutions In The U.S. Public Procurement System And Lessons Learned From The UK And The EU,” International Government Contractor, Vol. 2, No. 3(March 2005). Co-Authors: Kathy Sharp, Lauren Randall and Robert Nichols.
- Iraq Reconstruction: Key Procurement Issues, Briefing Papers, No. 05-3 (February 2005). Author: Robert Nichols.
- Europe’s Movement Toward A More Competitive Market For Defense Procurement, International Government Contractor, Vol. 1, No. 6 (November 2004). Author: Robert Nichols.
- Iraq Reconstruction: Government Contracts Year In Review, Year In Review Conference Briefs (2004). Author: Robert Nichols.
- GAO And CPA Continue To Find Numerous Setbacks Affecting Iraq Reconstruction Work,” The Government Contractor, Vol. 46, No. 26 (July 2004). Author: Robert Nichols.
- Iraq Reconstruction: Legal Issues In Subcontracting, International Government Contractor, Vol. 1, No. 1 (June 2004). Author: Robert Nichols.
- Feature Comment: “Emerging Issues In Iraq Reconstruction Contracting — Audits, Investigations, And The Transition Of Sovereignty,” The Government Contractor, Vol. 46, No. 18 (May 2004). Author: Robert Nichols.
- Iraq Reconstruction: US Government Procurement Practices in a Coalition Environment, Public Procurement Law Review (2004). Author: Robert Nichols.
- Iraq Reconstruction — Significant Contracting And Legal Issues, The Government Contractor, Vol. 46, No. 4 (January 2004). Author: Robert Nichols.
- Iraq Reconstruction: Needs, Opportunities, and the Contracting Environment, BNA’s Federal Contracts Report, Vol. 80, No. 15 (October 2003). Author: Robert Nichols.
- Issues in Developing Breach Claims: Under the General Dynamics Compensation Cap Decision, BNA’s Federal Contracts Report (April 2002). Co-Authors: Richard C. Johnson and Robert Nichols.
- Claims, Disputes, and Terminations, PubKGroup’s 4th Annual Year-in-Review, Live Webcast (December 12, 2018). Moderator and Speaker: Robert Nichols
- Industry Trends, PubKGroup’s 4th Annual Year-in-Review, Live Webcast (December 12, 2018). Speaker: Robert Nichols