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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.

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. 

To get a flavor of the approach to China in this year’s NDAA, look no further than the “Ending China’s Developing Nation Status Act” in Section 1399L of the Senate bill, which would require U.S. opposition to granting China “developing nation” status in treaties under negotiation and by international organizations of which the U.S. and China are members, such as the World Trade Organization.  Classification as a “developing nation” affords China access to preferential loans and other economic benefits intended to increase trading opportunities, notwithstanding its current status as an upper-middle income country (as determined by the World Bank), and the world’s second largest economy, trailing only the U.S.  Not to be outdone, Section 155 of the House bill contains a provision mandating expedited deployment of advanced radars to track high-altitude balloons and other potential threats to the U.S., in direct response to the incident earlier this year in which a Chinese balloon flew across the U.S. before being shot down by the Air Force.

Given these provisions, and many more (some we discuss below), this year’s NDAA strikes us as different.  It incorporates many more China-related provisions and many of these would impose greater obligations on government contractors to limit their interactions with the PRC and entities affiliated with the PRC Government.  Whether the laundry list of China-related provisions in the current NDAA survive, and in what form, will be determined by the conference process currently underway.  But these provisions have the potential to impose significant near-term burdens on contractors—requiring them to assess their obligations and make adjustments to ensure compliance.  Indeed, these provisions may be far more disruptive than requirements imposed by prior year NDAA China provisions that contractors have navigated by reassessing supply chains and increasing due diligence.  All government contractors and suppliers to government contractors with any connection to China would be well advised to monitor how the NDAA conference approaches resolution of this legislation over the coming months.

Continue Reading Not to Be Outpaced: NDAA Presents Measures Addressing China

On February 7, 2023, the House Committee on Armed Services (the “Committee”) held a hearing entitled “The Pressing Threat of the Chinese Communist 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.

Admiral Harry Harris, USN (Ret.), former commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and Dr. Melanie Sisson, Foreign Policy Fellow at the Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, appeared before the committee as witnesses. The substance and tenor of their testimony, reflected throughout the hearing from member statements, was bipartisan agreement that the PRC and the CCP pose a significant threat to the United States and its way of life.

Key members to watch this Congress, all of whom participated in the hearing, include, Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI), HASC Member and Chairman of the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the CCP, as well as Select Committee Members Rob Wittman (R-VA), Jim Banks (R-IN), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), and newly elected Carlos Gimenez (R-FL).

We expect these members will work together over the coming months to advance legislative measures in the defense authorization bill to address perceived threats posed by the CCP, particularly after its recent deployment of a surveillance balloon over the United States and military exercises near “Taiwan”.

Continue Reading Public Policy Update:  Key Takeaways from the House Armed Services Committee Hearing on the Chinese Communist Party Threat to U.S. National Defense

Section 5949 of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (“FY2023 NDAA”) contains two significant prohibitions regarding the procurement and use of semiconductor products and services from specific Chinese companies and other foreign countries of concern (the “Semiconductor Prohibitions”). Although many aspects of the prohibitions remain unclear, the legislation portends noteworthy obligations in the coming years for government contractors, their suppliers, and those who may be interested in entering into agreements with the United States.

A timeline of noteworthy events and requirements associated with the Semiconductor Prohibitions is available here.

I. The Prohibitions

A. Prohibition Text

The Semiconductor Prohibitions are divided into two subsections:

  1. Section 5949(a)(1)(A) (“Part A”) provides that the head of an executive agency may not “procure or obtain, or extend or renew a contract to procure or obtain, any electronic parts, products, or services that include covered semiconductor products or services.”
  2. Section 5949(a)(1)(B) (“Part B”) provides that the head of an executive agency may not “enter into a contract (or extend or renew a contract) with an entity to procure or obtain electronic parts or products that use any electronic parts or products that include covered semiconductor products or services.”


Continue Reading NDAA Prohibits Government Purchase and Use of Certain Semiconductors