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Jennifer Plitsch leads the firm’s Government Contracts Practice Group, where she works with clients on a broad range of issues arising from both defense and civilian contracts including contract proposal, performance, and compliance questions as well as litigation, transactional, and legislative issues.

She has particular expertise in advising clients on intellectual property and data rights issues under the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and obligations imposed by the Bayh-Dole Act, including march-in and substantial domestic manufacturing. Jen also has significant experience in negotiation and compliance under non-traditional government agreements including Other Transaction Authority agreements (OTAs), Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), Cooperative Agreements, Grants, and Small Business Innovation Research agreements.

For over 20 years, Jen’s practice has focused on advising clients in the pharmaceutical, biologics and medical device industry on all aspects of both commercial and non-commercial agreements with various government agencies including:

  • the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA);
  • the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC);
  • the Department of Defense (DoD), including the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical Biological Defense (JPEO-CBRN); and
    the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

She regularly advises on the development, production, and supply to the government of vaccines and other medical countermeasures addressing threats such as COVID-19, Ebola, Zika, MERS-CoV, Smallpox, seasonal and pandemic influenza, tropical diseases, botulinum toxin, nerve agents, and radiation events. In addition, for commercial drugs, biologics, and medical devices, Jen advises on Federal Supply Schedule contracts, including the complex pricing requirements imposed on products under the Veterans Health Care Act, as well as on the obligations imposed by participation in the 340B Drug Pricing program.

Jen also has significant experience in domestic sourcing compliance under the Buy American Act (BAA) and the Trade Agreements Act (TAA), including regulatory analysis and comments, certifications, investigations, and disclosures (including under the Acetris decision and Biden Administration Executive Orders). She also advises on prevailing wage requirements, including those imposed through the Davis-Bacon Act and the Service Contract Labor Standards.

President Biden recently signed bipartisan legislation reinforcing anti-human trafficking prohibitions. The End Human Trafficking in Government Contracts Act of 2022 builds on the existing anti-human trafficking framework at Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) § 52.222-50 (Combatting Trafficking in Persons) by requiring agencies to refer contractor reports of potential human trafficking activity directly to an agency suspension and debarment official (“SDO”).  Prior to this legislation, contractors have been required to notify their contracting officer and the agency inspector general upon receiving “[a]ny credible information” that a human trafficking violation had occurred.  See FAR § 52.222-50(d)(1).  Now agencies will be required to refer these reports to their SDOs, creating additional risk for contractors that disclose potential violations. 

This legislation – which passed Congress unanimously – demonstrates the federal government’s ongoing focus on anti-human trafficking matters – a focus that has been shared across presidential administrations.  For instance, in 2015, President Obama significantly expanded the FAR’s anti-human trafficking prohibitions, and in 2019, President Trump sought to undertake a comprehensive review of the government’s anti-trafficking efforts and released a list of “best practices” to guide contractors.  President Biden now joins this ongoing, bi-partisan effort to increase government contractors’ focus on human trafficking by signing the recently-passed legislation.

Despite the federal government’s longstanding efforts to prevent human trafficking in its supply chain, many questions remain concerning how to comply with the requirements.  Below are three of the most common questions we encounter in applying the FAR’s anti-human trafficking provision:

Continue Reading New Law Increases Government Scrutiny of Contractor Compliance with Anti-Trafficking Provisions

On August 25, 2022, President Biden announced a new Executive Order (“EO”) addressing the Implementation of the CHIPS Act of 2022 (“CHIPS Act”).  The CHIPS Act was signed by President Biden on August 9, 2022, and, among other things, authorizes $39 billion in funding for new projects to establish semiconductor production facilities within the United

On August 9, 2022, President Biden signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act—a massive, $280 billion bill to boost public and private sector investments in critical and emerging technologies.

We anticipate significant opportunities and an evolving regulatory landscape for companies, associations, universities, and others who work in various technology sectors, including:

  • High performance computing, semiconductors, and advanced computer hardware/software
  • Advanced communications technology and immersive technology
  • Advanced energy and industrial efficiency technology (including batteries, nuclear)
  • Advanced materials science (including composites 2D and next-generation materials)
  • Artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, and related advances
  • Quantum information science and technology
  • Biotechnology, medical technology, genomics, and synthetic biology
  • Data storage/management, distributed ledgers, and cybersecurity (including biometrics)
  • Natural and anthropogenic disaster prevention or mitigation
  • Robotics, automation, and advanced manufacturing

Below is an overview of the legislation and the funding and tax credit opportunities it provides for entities that participate in the research, development, production, education, or transfer of critical and emerging technologies, especially semiconductor manufacturing and research and open-RAN technology.

Overview

Headlining the bill are $54 billion in appropriations to fund the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (“CHIPS”) for America Act, which was authorized in 2021. The bill also includes $1.5 billion in appropriations for a wireless supply chain innovation fund under the Utilizing Strategic Allied Telecommunications Act, which was similarly authorized in 2021. Across these two sets of appropriations, over $40 billion are allocated for direct financial assistance in the form of competitive grants for which private companies will be able to apply. The law also authorizes over $200 billion in new programs across the federal government, paving the way for additional grants, public-private partnerships, and technology transfer opportunities.

Continue Reading Significant Funding and Tax Credit Opportunities in the CHIPS and Science Act

            On April 28, 2022, Covington convened experts across our practice groups for the Covington Robotics Forum, which explored recent developments and forecasts relevant to industries affected by robotics.  Winslow Taub, Partner in Covington’s Technology Transactions Practice Group, and Jennifer Plitsch, Chair of Covington’s Government Contracts Practice Group, discussed the robotics issues presented in private transactions

On September 24, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force released guidance on workplace safety protocols for federal contractors and subcontractors related to COVID-19 (“the Guidance”).  The Guidance was issued pursuant to President Biden’s Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors.

As expected, the Guidance covers a broad range of contract

On September 9, the Biden Administration released a number of new details for its Path out of the Pandemic that will impact U.S. Government contractors and a number of other individuals and entities.  In addition to requiring most executive agency employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines, the Administration plans to mandate that executive agency contractors

The American Rescue Plan, signed into law last month, includes $1.9 trillion in economic stimulus, healthcare, and related funding.  And just last week the Biden administration released an infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan, that includes $2.3 trillion in transportation, connectivity, power, and other critical infrastructure investments.Contractors are right to view these plans

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