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Stephanie Barna

Stephanie Barna draws on over three decades of U.S. military and government service to provide advisory and advocacy support and counseling to clients facing policy and political challenges in the aerospace and defense sectors.

Prior to joining the firm, Stephanie was a senior leader on Capitol Hill and in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Most recently, she was General Counsel of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where she was responsible for the annual $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Additionally, she managed the Senate confirmation of three- and four-star military officers and civilians nominated by the President for appointment to senior political positions in DoD and the Department of Energy’s national security nuclear enterprise, and was the Committee’s lead for investigations.

Previously, as a senior executive in the Office of the Army General Counsel, Stephanie served as a legal advisor to three Army Secretaries. In 2014, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel appointed her to be the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. In that role, she was a principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense on all matters relating to civilian and military personnel, reserve integration, military community and family policy, and Total Force manpower and resources. Stephanie was later appointed by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to perform the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, responsible for programs and funding of more than $35 billion.

Stephanie was also previously the Deputy General Counsel for Operations and Personnel in the Office of the Army General Counsel. She led a team of senior lawyers in resolving the full spectrum of issues arising from Army wartime operations and the life cycle of Army military and civilian personnel. Stephanie was also a personal advisor to the Army Secretary on his institutional reorganization and business transformation initiatives and acted for the Secretary in investigating irregularities in fielding of the Multiple Launch Rocket System and classified contracts. She also played a key role in a number of high-profile personnel investigations, including the WikiLeaks breach. Prior to her appointment as Deputy, she was Associate Deputy General Counsel (Operations and Personnel) and Acting Deputy General Counsel.

Stephanie is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army and served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps as an Assistant to the General Counsel, Office of the Army General Counsel; Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne); Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower & Reserve Affairs); and General Law Attorney, Administrative Law Division.

Stephanie was selected by the National Academy of Public Administration for inclusion in its 2022 Class of Academy Fellows, in recognition of her years of public administration service and expertise.

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

On December 22, 2023, President Biden signed into law the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (“FY 2024 NDAA”).  Sections 1841 through 1843 of the new law address Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (“UAP”).

The version of the FY 2024 NDAA enacted in the Senate in July of this year incorporated the Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Disclosure Act of 2023—which would have mandated the Federal Government’s exercise of eminent domain over UAP-related material controlled by private persons or entities.  As discussed in greater detail below, the eminent domain mandate was not included in the final version of the NDAA passed by both chambers of Congress.  The newly enacted law requires only the establishment of a government wide UAP records collection; that government offices transfer UAP records to the collection; and that records be reviewed for disclosure (or not) against a set of criteria under which public release could be “postponed.”  Nonetheless, the substance of these final UAP provisions and Congress’s renewed interest in UAP may be a harbinger of things to come for government contractors and research entities, especially those involved in defense, intelligence, and other national security projects.  We expand on the background, evolution, and national security implications of the UAP amendment—and its potential impacts on contractors and other private entities—below.Continue Reading Implications of the Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP) Amendment in the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

In keeping with the trend of increased attention on the False Claims Act’s (“FCA”) qui tam provisions, the Second Circuit recently weighed in on a seeming conflict between the statute and the relator’s obligations under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FCRP”). Under Rule 4(m) of the FRCP, the court generally must dismiss a complaint if the plaintiff fails to serve the defendant with a complaint and summons within 90 days of filing. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m). But a relator bringing suit under the qui tam provisions of the FCA may not serve a defendant until the complaint is unsealed and “until the court so orders.” 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b)(2). In cases brought under the qui tam provisions of the FCA, this creates the potential for questions regarding when the Rule 4(m) service-of-process clock begins to tick.

These questions seldom arise because courts ordinarily unseal a relator’s complaint and simultaneously order the relator to serve the defendant. In which case, the express order to serve the defendant plainly triggers the service-of-process clock under Rule 4(m). But what if the court unseals the relator’s complaint and then delays (or never issues) the order to serve the defendant? This was the question before the Second Circuit last month in U.S. ex rel. Weiner v. Siemens AG, No. 22-2656, 2023 WL 8227913, at 3 (2d Cir. Nov. 28, 2023).Continue Reading Tick-tock, the Court Starts the Clock: Deconflicting the FCA and Rule 4(m) of the FRCP

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