Yesterday at the Pentagon, President Bush signed into law the $401.3 billion National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2004. Accompanying this bill is a lengthy report setting forth the authorizers' recommendations on a wide-range of defense related activities. Among the topics covered in the report language (House Report 108-354) is Department of Defense science and technology funding. This legislation sets policy for FY 2004; see /fyi/2003/125.htmlfor information on final funding levels. Pertinent selections from the Joint Explanatory Statement, with inserted headings, follow:
DEFENSE S&T FUNDING AUTHORIZATION LEVEL:
"The budget request included $10,232.0 million for defense science and technology, including all Defense-wide [DARPA, etc.] and military service funding for basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development. To address the conferees' concerns with respect to critical shortcomings in the budget request, the conferees recommend an authorization of $11,029.6 million, an increase of $797.6 million for the Department of Defense (DOD) Science and Technology (S&T) Program."
The actual appropriated funding level for FY 2004 is $12,215 million.
VALUE OF DEFENSE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS:
"The past year has provided numerous examples of successful technology development and deployment. The men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces are better equipped, trained, and protected because of revolutionary breakthroughs emerging from the technology base. The Global War On Terrorism has provided a showcase for precision munitions, unmanned and robotic systems, instantaneous global communications, and other technologies that enable our military superiority. With continued robust and stable science and technology investments, future forces will leverage revolutionary technologies such as directed energy, nanotechnology, and intelligent robotics to accomplish their missions."
INCREASES IN S&T REQUEST IN PAST TWO YEARS, TRANSITION, WORKFORCE:
"The conferees commend the Department for increasing the budget request for science and technology by nearly 25 percent over the past two fiscal years and moving towards meeting the Secretary of Defense's goal of funding the Science and Technology Program at three percent of the overall defense budget. In addition, the Department continues to make great strides in meeting the difficult challenges of technology transition and, throughout the past year, in successfully delivering revolutionary capabilities to the warfighter, ranging from thermobaric weapons to enhanced armor and protective systems to multilingual translation devices. The conferees note that the Technology Transition Initiative and the Defense Acquisition Challenge Program, programs originally established in the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107-314), continue to be successfully implemented by the Department to address critical transition challenges. Finally, the conferees note that the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering has organized an important effort to address the critical workforce issues facing the Nation's defense research laboratories. The issues confronting the national treasures of the defense laboratory system cannot be overstated and will require forceful advocacy within the Department in the future."
CONCERN ABOUT FUTURE PROGRAMS: DOD, NAVY, BASIC RESEARCH:
"Despite the positive aspects of the Department's Science and Technology Program, the conferees are concerned about long-term projections for reductions in DOD science and technology as a percentage of total obligation authority, which are well below the three percent level, and in short-term trends in the science and technology accounts of some of the military departments and defense agencies. In particular, the conferees share the concerns raised by the House regarding the Navy Science and Technology Program. As highlighted in the House report accompanying H.R. 1588 (H. Rept. 108- 106), '. . . the Navy's core science and technology program is reduced to $1.48 billion, $460.0 million less than last year's appropriated level, 1.3 percent of the total Department of the Navy budget, and the lowest in total and percentage funding of the military departments. The budget request represents the second straight year of a significant reduction in the Navy's science and technology program.'
"The conferees remain concerned that the level of investment in basic, long-term research remains anemic. This account will provide the next generation of warfighters with the equipment, training, and protection they will require in future conflicts. As the investment in science and technology continues to grow towards the Secretary's three percent goal, the basic research accounts must grow at comparable rates. In the face of growing near-term requirements and budget pressures, the Department must work to preserve its long range view of technology development and embrace the role that fundamental research plays in the future of our military. The recent successes of the technology base in the Global War On Terrorism should not lead to an expectation of science on demand.
"The conferees also note that increasingly, scientific and technical advances are creating policy, privacy, and regulatory issues that must be addressed prior to final development and deployment of new technologies. These issues must be adequately addressed in parallel with research and technology development so that new capabilities are delivered to warfighters in a manner that is consistent with well developed and technically informed policies."
DEVOLVEMENT (TRANSFER) OF CERTAIN DEFENSE-WIDE S&T PROGRAMS TO SERVICE BRANCHES:
"The conferees note that the Department of Defense (DOD), and in particular the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E), has assured the conferees that, despite the devolvement of these programs [explosive demilitarization technology (PE 63104D8Z); high energy laser research initiative (PE 61108D8Z); high energy laser research (PE 62890D8Z); high energy laser advanced development (PE 63924D8Z); and university research initiative (PE 61103D8Z)], the nature of the programs will not change. The conferees have, and will continue to pay particular attention to these programs in the future. The Secretary of Defense should consider these programs congressional interest items for purposes of the Base for Reprogramming (DD 1414). Any reprogramming of funds from these accounts shall only occur after approval by the congressional defense committees. The conferees may remove this designation after several years experience with the devolved programs.
FUNDING AND NATURE OF BASIC RESEARCH PROGRAM, REQUIRED NAS REPORT:
"The conferees further note their concerns about funding levels and technical content of the basic research activities of the defense science and technology program. The Department's investment in basic research provides the foundation upon which our modern military is built. It is critical the basic research investment remain strong, stable, and focused on the fundamental search for new knowledge. Therefore, the conferees direct the National Academies of Science to evaluate the DOD basic research portfolio. The evaluation shall utilize the official DOD definition of basic research to determine whether the basic research portfolio is consistent with the definition provided in DOD regulation. The conferees expect to work closely with the National Academies of Science and the Secretary to build the terms of reference for this evaluation. The evaluation should be made available to the congressional defense committees prior to the fiscal year 2006 budget request."
REQUIRED ANNUAL REPORT ON DEVOLVED S&T PROGRAMS:
"The conferees direct the Secretary to submit a report for each of the fifteen programs devolved in the fiscal year 2004 President's budget request, if the current year's budget request for the program is less than the fiscal year 2004 budget request in constant dollars. This reporting requirement is intended to be in effect for the next four fiscal years. This report shall be included with each fiscal year budget request, and shall contain budget request and appropriated levels for the program dating back to calendar year 2000 in both current and constant dollars, and an analysis of the impact of the reduced funding on the development of military capabilities, affected contractors, technical workforce, and scientific and technological advancement."