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David R. Johnson

David R. Johnson Partner, Government Contracts, Export Controls & Economic Sanctions

Dave Johnson leads the Government Contracts/Export Controls and Economic Sanctions practice. He works with companies of all sizes and in all industries to resolve contract disputes with the government and to manage legal complications that may arise from exports as well as inbound foreign investment.

When the odds appear stacked against them, Dave and his team excel. They convinced a court to enjoin the Department of Education from canceling the procurement of student debt collection services, surprising critics in the press who questioned their legal strategy. They successfully navigated a series of arbitrations to help a ship-building client secure over $2 billion in business from a counterparty to a teaming agreement that tried to renege on its contract. They regularly represent clients before suspension and debarment officials.

Dave has served as lead counsel on matters involving an array of government agencies. He prepared one of the largest claims ever prosecuted against the U.S. Air Force and has handled matters listed in the Government Accountability Office's "Significant GAO Bid Protest Decisions" guide. His extensive government contracts experience also includes counseling on compliance and financial assistance agreements.

Dave’s work on export controls, economic sanctions, and national security matters over many years has involved the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), and the sanctions regimes administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). He has substantial experience in licensing, internal investigations, voluntary disclosures, and resolving allegations of export and sanctions violations. Dave has defended clients in major enforcement actions involving the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and OFAC.

Dave has also handled numerous transactions involving the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and mitigation of foreign ownership, control and influence (FOCI) under the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM) with the Defense Security Service (DSS).

Dave's wealth of experience across the federal government contracting and regulatory framework involving critical technologies and national security issues enables him to provide practical advice in difficult circumstances.

Experience Highlights

  • Led a team of V&E government contracts lawyers at the CoFC in successful challenges to procurement decisions made by the Department of Education, including obtaining injunctive relief enabling the client to keep work under its existing contract while the matter was pending 
  • Led a team of V&E litigation and government contracts lawyers in obtaining an interim arbitral award  that resulted in the effective injunction of a major defense contractor due to its likely breach of a teaming agreement related to the sale of defense articles to a foreign government 
  • Led a litigation team at the CoFC in obtaining a dismissal of several protest actions seeking an injunction against a task order award extension for V&E's client on the Department of Education's student loan collection program contract
  • Lead counsel on successive successful GAO bid protests, twice obtaining corrective action by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reevaluate two contract awards under the same procurement, resulting in the client retaining its incumbent contract work
  • Assisted a leading aerospace contractor in preparing one of the largest delay and disruption claims ever prosecuted against the U.S. government, having lead responsibility for a $1 billion component of the claim
  • Led an effort by a team of V&E lawyers to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) at the CoFC against the U.S. Navy’s attempt to override an automatic stay of contract performance imposed under the Competition in Contracting Act (CICA)
  • On behalf of an electronic connector manufacturer facing allegations of product substitution, persuaded the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) SDO to terminate a proposed debarment with no adverse action to the client within 30 days of the agency’s issuance of the notice of proposed debarment
  • Retained by a U.S. Navy contractor on a project valued at greater than $1 billion to advise on a wide variety of government contract-related issues, including performance requirements, default and suspension issues, and FOIA issues, arising in the midst of a project performance crisis
  • As part of the closing of an almost $1 billion transaction, led the investigation and voluntary disclosure of numerous possible ITAR violations, resulting in a quick closeout of the issues at DDTC without fine or penalty
  • Retained by a private equity firm divesting of a line of businesses that included a U.S.-based oil and gas services business on the eve of the close of a transaction to handle all DDTC/ITAR-related requirements and a CFIUS filing which had not been identified by non-U.S. deal counsel; working with the buyer’s counsel from another AMLAW 100 firm, achieved a closeout within 30 days of filing at CFIUS, substantially mitigating disruption to the transaction

Bid Protests

  • Led a litigation team at the CoFC in obtaining a dismissal of several protest actions seeking an injunction against a task order award extension for V&E's client on the Department of Education's student loan collection program contract
  • Lead counsel on successive successful GAO bid protests, twice obtaining corrective action by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reevaluate two contract awards under the same procurement, resulting in the client retaining its incumbent contract work
  • Obtained summary dismissal of a protest at GAO against a client’s contract award where the protestor attempted to challenge the client’s compliance with the solicitation requirements 
  • Successfully prosecuted an agency-level bid protest at the U.S. Army, convincing the government to terminate a contract award to the client’s competitor for automated installation entry hardware and software for dozens of military installations, which allowed the client to perform additional work under its incumbent contract
  • Successfully defended a protest at GAO, defeating the protester’s challenges to the agency’s technical evaluation and the small business size status of our client, allowing the client to keep the contract
  • Successful lead counsel in obtaining corrective action on two simultaneous task order GAO bid protests for one of the world’s largest audit, tax, and advisory services firms
  • Served as lead counsel in the successful defense of a protest by our client’s competitor against a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) contract award for supply of inspection equipment before GAO
  • Successful lead counsel on a significant GAO bid protest decision finding material misrepresentation in a competitor's proposal, GAO fund proposals should be reevaluated
  • Successful lead counsel in defending $100+ million contract award before the FAA’s ODRA
  • On behalf of a security company, convinced the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to take corrective action on a bid protest at the GAO against unduly restrictive specifications for nationwide services
  • Defended a GAO bid protest alleging OCI in the award of a National Security Agency (NSA) contract, resulting in the client keeping its contract award

Claims

  • Assisted in the preparation of a substantial request for equitable adjustment (REA) and the conversion of that REA to a Contract Disputes Act (CDA) claim against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) related to defective specifications on a major shipbuilding contract
  • On behalf of a software company, prepared a claim resulting in payment of compensation for violations of licenses by a component of a large state university system
  • Advised on the preparation of a claim related to changes, delays, disruptions, and nonpayment on a U.S. DoD Educational Activity (DoDEA) school project
  • Assisted a leading aerospace contractor in preparing one of the largest delay and disruption claims ever prosecuted against the U.S. government, having lead responsibility for a $1 billion component of the claim
  • Prepared and successfully negotiated the resolution of a claim against the State of California Department of Technology Services arising out of software license breaches resulting from a statutorily mandated reorganization and consolidation
  • Prepared numerous defective specification claims, a number of which the government accepted without requiring the contractor to commence litigation
  • Defended against a government claim that the contractor-client had failed to meet a mean-time-between-failure (MTBF) reliability requirement
  • Prepared and resolved substantial claims involving energy savings performance contracts (ESPC)

Litigation

  • Led an effort by a team of V&E lawyers to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) at the CoFC against the U.S. Navy’s attempt to override an automatic stay of contract performance imposed under the Competition in Contracting Act (CICA)
  • On a successful appeal of a summary judgment dismissal of a subcontractor pass-through claim, convinced the Federal Circuit to reverse a CoFC decision; in doing so, the Federal Circuit adopted contract interpretation arguments of a prime/sub release based on the law of the state where the Federal project was located
  • For a leading information technology company, defended a multiparty litigation and obtained a settlement through mediation whereby the client owed nothing in damages and was indemnified for all legal fees and expenses
  • For an architect-engineering firm, defended a claim brought by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) for an allegedly defective civil engineering design
  • For an architect-engineering firm, defended a claim brought by the City of Chicago for the allegedly defective design of the O’Hare International Terminal
  • For an environmental remediation company, prepared and prosecuted a differing site conditions claim against the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Federal District Court in Fort Worth, Texas
  • For a government construction contractor, obtained a favorable decision at the ASBCA for a claim resulting from a defective specification
  • For a major national construction firm, established an argument that led to a court injunction against an owner that sought to initiate arbitration of a dispute beyond the applicable statute of limitations
  • For a facilities operations contractor working under a municipal government school district contract, obtained summary judgment for all damages sought under contract interpretation in Federal District Court in Maryland (monetary damages)

Suspension & Debarment

  • Successfully defended a supplier to the Department of Defense in an investigation of alleged substitute and non-complying parts, resulting in a modest settlement and an agreement that the Department of Defense would not seek suspension or debarment 
  • On behalf of a construction company, obtained a termination of a General Services Administration (GSA) debarment proceeding in a matter involving a conviction of an employee for bribery of government officials
  • On behalf of an equipment manufacturer, substantially mitigated a U.S. Navy Suspension and Debarment Official (SDO)-imposed debarment period in a matter involving forgeries of government signatures on materials provided as part of Small Business Administration (SBA) application documents
  • On behalf of an electronic connector manufacturer facing allegations of product substitution, persuaded the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) SDO to terminate a proposed debarment with no adverse action to the client within 30 days of the agency’s issuance of the notice of proposed debarment
  • For a large independent oil and gas producer, working in conjunction with a V&E Environmental Partner, provided strategic and legal advice to successfully resolve and close out without further action a debarment proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resulting from a conviction under the Clean Water Act (CWA)
  • On behalf of a diversified multinational corporation, negotiated an administrative agreement with an agency SDO, which resulted in no interruption to the corporation’s ability to do business with the Federal government
  • Retained as professional counsel by a non-Washington D.C. law firm to assist in defeating a proposed debarment of a southwestern U.S. independent oil and gas producer brought by the Department of Interior (DOI) based on alleged violations of a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) order

Government Contracts Counseling

  • Retained by a large public utility to provide advice and assistance related to cost allocations and performance irregularities identified on a number of Department of Energy (DOE) cost sharing agreements
  • Advised a Fortune 100 company on issues pertaining to the negotiation and establishment of a project under a large Recovery Act-related grant and provided ongoing counseling and advice in the performance and ultimately, the close out of the financial assistance agreement
  • Successfully negotiated a teaming agreement among four large defense contractors for the implementation of the U.S. Army’s noncompetitive acquisition strategy for an advanced field artillery system and future armored resupply vehicle program
  • Retained by a U.S. Navy contractor on a project valued at greater than $1 billion to advise on a wide variety of government contract-related issues, including performance requirements, default and suspension issues, and FOIA issues, arising in the midst of a project performance crisis
  • Advised a Fortune 100 client in establishing effective Buy American Act manufacturing and purchasing processes, as well as assisting clients in waiver requests and voluntary disclosures relating to Buy American Act requirements on U.S. government procurements and grant programs
  • Worked with a team of V&E government contracts lawyers to investigate and address with certain DOD components a contractor’s possible failure to perform required testing on certain supplies for aircraft and ships, which ultimately resulted in the contracting authority and the relevant SDO closing the matter without fine or penalty
  • Assisted in the development and implementation of a government contracts ethics and compliance program at a Fortune 100 company
  • After serving as lead counsel on a series of successful GAO bid protests to overturn a U.S. Army decision to keep operations and maintenance work in-house for the former Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., (see, Johnson Controls World Services, Inc., B-295529.2, -.3, -.4, -.6) was retained in coordination with a team of lobbyists and other specialists to advise on crisis management issues related to Congressional and media inquiries about the operation and closure of the facility

Export Controls, Economic Sanctions & National Security

  • Served as the lead regulatory lawyer for the acquirer overseeing all government contracts and national security (DSS, CFIUS, DDTC) aspects of a $6 billion satellite industry merger, involving an ultimate foreign parent purchaser 
  • Retained by a cutting edge technology client with ultimate foreign ownership to assist the client in obtaining agreement from DSS on acceptable mitigation of foreign ownership control or influence in order to obtain a facility security clearance to enable the client to perform classified work for the U.S. government 
  • Retained by a Fortune 100 company to investigate and disclose to DDTC possible ITAR violations of a newly acquired entity
  • As part of the closing of an almost $1 billion transaction, led the investigation and voluntary disclosure of numerous possible ITAR violations, resulting in a quick closeout of the issues at DDTC without fine or penalty
  • Investigated and assisted the client in voluntarily disclosing the possible export to destinations proscribed under the ITAR of certain United States Munitions List (USML) controlled drawings, resulting in DDTC’s close out of the matter without fine or penalty
  • Defended a major aerospace company against a multimillion dollar civil sanctions charge brought by DDTC, alleging violations of the ITAR
  • Retained as specialty DSS counsel multiple times by a significant private equity firm to advise on FOCI issues in co-investments with a foreign sovereign wealth fund
  • Served as special counsel to an outside independent monitor of companies under compliance consent agreements relating to export controls violations
  • For a Fortune 100 company, handled and resolved without penalty a voluntary disclosure involving possible violations of the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) administered by the Census Bureau
  • For a Fortune 100 company, led an investigation, preparation of a voluntary disclosure, and the resolution that disclosure at OFAC without fines or penalties concerning possible violations of the Iran sanctions related to a divestiture of a European operation of the company
  • Teamed with one of V&E’s White Collar Partners, successfully defended a non-U.S. oil and gas field supplier criminally charged in U.S. federal court for violating the Iran sanctions for diverting products
  • Retained by a Chinese oil and gas company to address the improper identification of it on numerous state and local government entity sanctions lists for allegedly doing business in Iran
  • Retained by a government contractor operating under a Special Security Agreement (SSA) with DSS to investigate possible internal compliance issues under the NISPOM
  • Retained by a private equity firm divesting of a line of businesses that included a U.S.-based oil and gas services business on the eve of the close of a transaction to handle all DDTC/ITAR-related requirements and a CFIUS filing which had not been identified by non-U.S. deal counsel; working with the buyer’s counsel from another AMLAW 100 firm, achieved a closeout within 30 days of filing at CFIUS, substantially mitigating disruption to the transaction
  • As part of a V&E deal team, led all aspects of diligence responses and divestiture of a large engineering firm’s business to a foreign-owned buyer that required the establishment of an SSA company and a separate Proxy company to address FOCI mitigation issues
  • Led the buyer’s side on CFIUS, U.S. export control and DSS issues of an acquisition by a foreign-owned entity of a Big Data software company and established a mitigated entity approved by DSS, allowing the company to continue to perform its full array of government contracts and subcontracts
  • Served as lead export/trade regulation counsel on Shougang/BeijingWest Industries’ acquisition of Delphi Corporation’s automobile parts business, which was named by Asian-Counsel magazine as one of the “Deals of the Year 2009”


Contact Details

Washington

T +1.202.639.6706
F +1.202.879.8906
drjohnson@velaw.com
2200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 500 West
Washington, DC 20037
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Dave's Practices

  • College of William and Mary School of Law, J.D., 1989
  • University of Virginia, B.S., Philosophy and Economics, 1986
  • Admitted to practice: Virginia; District of Columbia
    • Chambers USA, Government: Government Contracts (Nationwide), 2011–2019; International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions (Nationwide), 2005 and 2008–2019
    • Legal 500 U.S., Government Contracts, 2015−2019
    • The Best Lawyers in America© (Woodward/White, Inc.), Government Relations Law, 2010–2019
    • Chambers Global, International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: Leader in Their Field 2012–2019
    • Selected to the Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), 2016–2017, 2019
    • American Lawyer Media, Washington DC & Baltimore’s Top Rated Lawyers, 2012
    • Member: American Bar Association