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When Crowell & Moring partner Terry Albertson first came to Washington, D.C., he had never heard of government contracts law � let alone the subspecialty of costs and pricing that has become his life’s work. Nor did his military experience � he was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam � lead him to the field. Instead, Albertson, 57, says he became a government contracts lawyer for a much simpler reason: He liked the people in the practice group at D.C.’s Reavis, Pogue, Neal & Rose (now Jones Day), which he joined as a first-year associate in 1974. He had the added fortune to work closely with Roger Boyd, a legend in the field. Under the tutelage of Boyd, who died in 2002, Albertson developed a formidable expertise in costs and pricing � that is, how contractors account for their costs and whether certain expenses are reimbursable from the government, and if so, for how much. “It’s something that sounds dreadful to most people,” he says, laughing. But he enjoys the intensely cerebral aspect of the work. “It’s mostly about analyzing the law, and not much about factual problems,” he says. “You have to figure out how the little regulations fit together.” Devon Engel, vice president and general counsel of General Dynamics C4 Systems, describes Albertson as “a wonderful combination of being an absolute master in his field, while delivering very practical advice in a cost-effective manner.” Douglas Perry, vice president of government contract compliance at Honeywell Aerospace, agrees. “Terry is the preeminent expert on government cost accounting issues today. He cuts to the chase on very complicated issues and draws on years of experience and good judgment to help us address some of our most vexing cost accounting issues.” One of Albertson’s biggest cases was Perry v. Martin Marietta Corp. Albertson represented the defense contractor, which had undertaken a major reorganization in 1987 that affected the way that costs flowed internally. At issue was whether, as the government argued, this reorganization constituted a change in the company’s accounting practice under the federal government’s Cost Accounting Standards. If so, all the company’s government contracts would have to be repriced. In a decision awaited with intense interest by other contractors, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 1995 endorsed Albertson’s narrower definition of a “change in cost accounting practice.” The practical impact of the decision was huge, Albertson says. Had the court gone the other way, it would have meant “armies of people repricing contracts” every time that a contractor reorganized its business. In another precedent-setting case, the Defense Department complained that the General Electric Co. was overpaying secretaries in Burlington, Vt., and balked at footing a $2 million bill. The government argued that the biggest local employer of secretaries, the University of Vermont, paid far less than GE. But the government didn’t take into account that university secretaries also received free tuition for their children. The 1988 decision, General Electric Co., ASBCA No. 28753, 89-1 BCA 21445, is often cited when questions arise about reasonable compensation and the value of benefits, says Albertson. In recent months, Albertson has been busy counseling companies with contracts in Iraq. Because contractors there are being forced to pay far higher wages than expected to attract workers, Albertson predicts “an explosion of cases about cost allowability in Iraq in the near future.” Accounting problems are also likely to arise. “The government expects to come in and find support for every penny charged,” Albertson says, “but businesses in a war zone may not have the formal accounting records the government expects to see.” He adds, “The amounts get to be huge very quickly.” A Harvard Law graduate, Albertson was part of the 53-lawyer group that split from Jones Day to form D.C.’s Crowell & Moring in 1979. He made partner at Crowell in 1981. “The work is fascinating because the government buys everything,” he says. “Over time, you get exposed to many different industries. It isn’t really all big defense contractors and big weapons.”

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