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Michele Pearce

Michele Pearce has wide-ranging experience working on national security issues throughout her two decades of military and government service. She provides advisory and advocacy support and counseling to clients facing policy and political challenges in the aerospace and defense sectors.
Before joining Covington, Michele held several senior staff positions within the Department of Defense (DoD) and Congress. Most recently, she served as General Counsel (Acting) of the Department of the Army, providing legal and policy advice to the Secretary of the Army and other service leadership. In this role, Michele was responsible for legal matters related to modernizing acquisition and contracting practices to meet emerging threats, implementing AI and hypersonic systems, and reforming ethics and diversity and inclusion programs.

Prior to her role in the Army, Michele served as Deputy General Counsel (Legislation) at DoD. She was the principal legal advisor to DoD officials, including the Secretary of Defense, Deputy Secretary of Defense, and General Counsel on matters concerning legislation, investigations, and the Department’s Legislative Review Program, which considers more than 400 legislative proposals annually.

Michele also has significant Capitol Hill experience. She was a Senior Defense Advisor to Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), advising on legal and budgetary matters related to authorizations and appropriations for the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs. Michele also served as Staff Lead/Counsel on the House Armed Services Committee, where she managed one of the largest subcommittees in Congress with a multi-billion dollar budget focused on operations and maintenance activities across DoD. She also served as Staff Lead of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and as Counsel and Professional Staff of the Military Personnel Subcommittee.

Michele also previously served as an Advisor to Andrew Effron, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces; Military Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force; Associate Deputy General Counsel for Personnel and Health Policy at DoD; and as an Air Force Judge Advocate General.

This post continues our ongoing coverage of the FY 2024 NDAA. 

The FY 2024 NDAA includes numerous supply chain and stockpile management provisions aimed at addressing a host of perceived vulnerabilities and weaknesses in Department of Defense (“DoD”) supply chain networks used to secure goods and services for our national defense.  Of particular note, this year’s NDAA seeks to address China’s and Russia’s continued dominance in the global supply chain for many critical materials and rare earth elements.  Supply chain- and stockpile-related measures in the NDAA could present significant opportunities for contractors poised to support the U.S. Government’s efforts to on-shore and friend-shore U.S. and DoD sourcing and manufacturing, but Congress’s focus on increasing supply chain visibility could also herald new rounds of compliance and reporting requirements attached to federal procurements.Continue Reading Key Supply Chain Provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) for Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2024

Although Congress averted a Government shutdown on October 1 by passing a temporary spending bill, we may be headed toward a shutdown next month.  As many Federal Government contractors have experienced during prior Government shutdowns, some portions of the Government — primarily those not funded through annual appropriations bills or that provide “essential services” — may continue to operate (often without pay or access to certain resources), while others shut down immediately, leaving contractors with a customer that often is unable to provide funding, authorize contract actions or respond to inquiries until the Government reopens its doors.  Faced with these challenges, contractors would be well advised to ensure their shutdown plans position them to navigate the potential challenges.  Each agency and contract can offer unique challenges, but we offer a few key considerations below to guide contractors in assessing their approaches to potential shutdowns:Continue Reading Key Steps Contractors Should Consider When Facing a Government Shutdown

Following our recent overview of topics to watch in the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) for Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2024, available here, we continue our coverage with a “deep dive” into NDAA provisions related to cybersecurity and software security in each of the Senate and House bills.  For the past three years, the NDAA has dedicated a separate Title to cyber and cybersecurity, reflecting the increased importance of these issues in Department of Defense (“DoD”) operations.  As expected, both the Senate and House versions of the NDAA bill continue this tradition.  Many of the cyberspace related provisions in both chambers’ bills would have direct or indirect impacts on DoD contractors and other members of the Defense Industrial Base (“DIB”).  We summarize below the cyber-related provisions that are most likely to impact the DIB. Continue Reading Key Cyber Security and Software Security Provisions of the House and Senate Versions of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Domestic sourcing requirements are not new, but the Government is always developing new tools for increasing the sourcing of goods from the U.S. and allied countries.  Both sides of the political aisle have marched to a drumbeat of increased domestic sourcing for the past several years.  Most recently, the Biden Administration implemented Executive Order 14005 to “maximize” the U.S. Government’s purchase of goods and services produced in the United States and Executive Order 14104 to increase domestic manufacturing and commercialization in certain research and development supported by federal funding.  The ongoing bi-partisan support for bolstering domestic sourcing is illustrated no better than through this year’s NDAA, which focuses on expanding the domestic supply chain for materials and supplies critical to the U.S. military, encouraging the purchase of domestic end items, and providing more opportunities for the Department of Defense (“DoD”) to engage with and purchase from domestic businesses.Continue Reading Key Domestic Sourcing Provisions of the House and Senate Versions of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Following our recent overview of key topics to watch in the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) for Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2024, available here, we continue our coverage with a “deep dive” into NDAA provisions related to the People’s Republic of China (“China” or “PRC”) in each of the House and Senate bills.  DoD’s focus on strengthening U.S. deterrence and competitive positioning vis-à-vis China features prominently in the 2022 National Defense Strategy (“NDS”) and in recent national security discourse.  This focus is shared by the Select Committee on Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (“Select Committee”), led by Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL). 

It is no surprise, then, that House and Senate versions of the NDAA include hundreds of provisions—leveraging all elements of national power—intended to address what the NDS brands as China’s “pacing” challenge, including many grounded in Select Committee policy recommendations.  Because the NDAA is viewed as “must-pass” legislation, it has served in past years as a vehicle through which other bills not directly related to DoD are enacted in law.  In one respect, this year is no different—the Senate version of the NDAA incorporates both the Department of State and Intelligence 2024 Authorization bills, each of which includes provisions related to China. Continue Reading Not to Be Outpaced: NDAA Presents Measures Addressing China

It’s that time of year again: the House and Senate have each passed their respective version of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2024 (“NDAA”) (H.R. 2670, S. 2226).  The NDAA is a “must pass” set of policy programs and discretionary authorizations to fund Department of Defense (“DoD”) operations.  Lawmakers are currently undertaking the arduous process of reconciling these bills, while jockeying to include topics of importance in the final legislation.  The engrossed bills contain a number of significant provisions for defense contractors, technology providers, life science companies and commercial-item contractors – many of which we discuss briefly below and others that we will analyze in more depth in our NDAA series in the coming weeks.  Subscribe to our blog here so that you do not miss these updates.Continue Reading Key Topics to Watch as Congress Works to Fund Next Year’s DoD Budget

Section 804 of the House-enacted version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 would establish a “loser pays” pilot program to require contractors to reimburse the Department of Defense for costs incurred in “processing” bid protests that are ultimately denied by the Government Accountability Office.  The accompanying House Armed Services Committee report explains the provision’s intent as “curtailing wasteful contract disputes.” Continue Reading Should Bid Protest Losers Pay?

As the House and Senate Armed Services Committees prepare to mark up the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), they are very likely to consider a number of China-related measures that have been recommended by the national security community and which could enjoy bipartisan support.  These recommendations are generally focused on countering Chinese influence in the United States or increasing the United States’ relative power advantage in the Pacific region. Continue Reading Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act: More China-Related Measures on the Horizon

On February 7, 2023, the House Committee on Armed Services (the “Committee”) held a hearing entitled “The Pressing Threat of the Chinese Community Party to U.S. National Defense.” This hearing marked the Committee’s first in the 118th Congress and it focused on U.S. strategic competition with the Chinese Communist Party (“CCP”) of the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”). This overview is the first in a series of legislative updates we will provide on congressional oversight activities related to China throughout the Congress, including specific activities focused on trade controls, supply chain dependencies, and PRC-sourced telecommunications infrastructure in U.S. networks.Continue Reading Key Takeaways from the House Armed Services Committee Hearing on the Chinese Communist Party Threat to U.S. National Defense

The Department of Defense is seeking early input on implementation of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (the “FY2023 NDAA”) in the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation.  Although this early engagement process will not replace the formal rulemaking process, it presents a significant opportunity for government contractors, technology providers, industry associations, and other interested parties to provide their perspectives on acquisition-related provisions of this year’s NDAA.  Providing early input can ensure that industry’s perspective is heard.  Indeed, providing input at this stage may impact the future rulemaking process by guiding areas of focus and influencing ways the rule makers ask for input during the rulemaking process.
Continue Reading DoD Seeks Early Input Regarding FY2023 NDAA Implementation in Acquisition Regulations