House Passes FY 2008 Defense Department Authorization Bill

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Publication date: 
24 May 2007

The House has passed a $503.8 billion defense authorization bill, setting the stage for the FY 2008 defense appropriations bill. While actual funding parameters for the Department of Defense will not be known until late summer when the DOD appropriations bills are written, the bill passed last week provides a first glimpse of how Congress views funding for three DOD science and technology programs.

Perspective comes into play when viewing the authorized funding levels in H.R. 1585. In last February's FY 2008 budget request to Congress, the Administration removed FY 2007 earmarked funding as it developed its request. The magnitude of these earmarks is indicated by FY 2005 data (latest available) compiled by the Office of Management and Budget. According to OMB, there were 1,781 earmarks in the FY 2005 DOD appropriations bill for Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation that totaled $5,163,285,000 ( see In remarks at an AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy earlier this month, OSTP Director John Marburger contended that "the entire change in the FY08 Presidential budget request for DOD S&T comes from removing the FY07 earmarks to determine a meaningful base budget for this important research. The President is actually asking Congress to increase the S&T budget that DOD can devote to its core programs."

Marburger was commenting on the comparison of the Administration's FY 2008 S&T request to the "unadjusted" FY 2007 appropriation which shows proposed reductions in the 6.1 basic research, 6.2 applied research, and 6.3 advanced technology development programs as well as total S&T spending, of, respectively, -8.7 percent, -18.3 percent, -22.5 percent, and -19.2 percent (see FY 2007 earmarking data was not provided by the Department of Defense with its FY 2008 submission, so it was (and remains) difficult to determine what the percentage changes would have been if earmarked funding was removed.

The FY 2008 Defense Authorization bill passed by the House would increase total authorized funding levels over the Bush Administration's FY 2008 request, but at lower levels than current funding. The below figures were provided by the Coalition for National Security Research, to which AIP belongs. These calculations make no allowance for earmarked funds.

6.1 Basic Research: Up 3.4 percent over the request in the bill; down 5.6 percent compared to this year.

6.2 Applied Research: Up 7.5 percent over the request in the bill; down 12.1 percent compared to this year.

6.3 Advanced Technology Development: Up 7.2 percent over the request in the bill; down 16.9 percent compared to this year.

Total 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 funding: Up 6.8 percent over the request in the bill; down 13.7 percent compared to this year.

There was no debate on the House floor about these S&T programs, nor did the Administration comment on this section of the bill in its Statement of Administration Policy. The House Armed Services Committee report (110-146, see ) did comment on the three programs as follows:

"Innovation for national security

"The committee notes that a number of prominent studies have detailed the growth in global science and technology investment and intellectual capital, relative to that of the United States. At the same time, as articulated in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the national security situation has changed dramatically. Present and future adversaries are likely to use asymmetric means and agile application of technology against the United States.

"In the face of these new threats, the committee is concerned that a strategic framework, which fails to build U.S. intellectual capital advantage, could increase risks to future U.S. national security. The committee commends the Department of Defense (DOD) for its recent efforts to attract and retain top-quality scientists and engineers through the National Defense Education Program. The committee is concerned, however, with the continued decline in the budget requests for DOD science and technology efforts, particularly basic research. This decline in DOD basic research comes at a time when the President has launched the American Competitiveness Initiative, aimed at increasing federal basic research funding and creating a new generation of scientists and engineers. Additionally, the Directors of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) stated in a July 23, 2006 memorandum on the Administration's fiscal year 2008 research and development priorities that `high impact basic and applied research of the Department of Defense should be a significant priority.' Despite these recommendations, the budget request for defense basic and applied research fell below zero percent real growth for fiscal year 2008.

"Therefore, the committee directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a report addressing DOD's responses to the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences report, 'Rising Above the Gathering Storm,' and the OMB/OSTP memorandum. The report shall include: (1) DOD's efforts to identify, support, and expand basic research in fields critical to meeting DOD's future technological needs; (2) DOD's estimate of the impacts of technology globalization to national security; and (3) steps that must be taken to ensure that the DOD's future scientific and technological workforce requirements, including those of the defense industrial base, can be satisfactorily met over the next 20 years. The report shall also outline a long-term, strategic plan for how the Department believes a sustained increase in funding for DOD basic research could be effectively utilized. The Secretary shall submit the report to the congressional defense committees by the distribution date of the fiscal year 2009 budget request [February 2008]."

The Senate Armed Services Committee is now writing its version of the FY 2008 defense authorization bill. It is expected that the defense appropriations bill will not be written until later this summer.

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