House Actions on FY 2012 Defense Bills

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Publication date: 
9 June 2011

The House Armed Services Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense are moving ahead on the authorization and appropriations bills for the Defense Department for FY 2012.  The House passed H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012 on May 26.  On June 14, the full House Appropriations Committee will consider the FY 2012 funding bill that was recently approved by its Subcommittee on Defense.

Appropriators working on the FY 2012 defense bill had a somewhat easier time drafting their bill than their colleagues on other appropriations subcommittees.  Under this year’s House spending plan, the Defense Subcommittee, chaired by C. W. Bill Young (R-FL) had an allocation that was 3.3 percent higher than in FY 2011.  This increase contrasts with the reductions that were made in the FY 2012 allocations for other subcommittees.  Despite this increase, the Defense Subcommittee had a total budget that was 1.7 percent less than the Administration’s budget request.  

The three defense science and technology programs (6.1 basic research, 6.2 applied research, and 6.3 advanced technology research) are funded within Title IV of the bill -- Research, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E).  A committee statement on “Research and Development” explains:

“The bill contains $73 billion - $1.9 billion below last year’s level and $2.3 billion below the President’s request - for research, development, testing, and evaluation of new technologies. This funding for basic and applied science research will help to advance the safety and success of current and future military operations, and will help prepare our forces with the systems and equipment necessary to meet potential challenges down the road. For example, the bill fully funds the tanker replacement program, and research and development for the P8-A Poseidon, the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) Unmanned Arial Vehicle, the Navy Combat Air Vehicle, and the CH-53K helicopter.”

The FY 2011 RDT&E appropriation was $74,957,028.  The Administration’s request was $75,325,082.

Funding for the three defense S&T programs is but a small part of the $73 billion that the subcommittee recommend for RDT&E.  For FY 2012, the Administration’s request for the three S&T programs was $12,247.0 million. After the full Appropriations Committee approves the bill it will release an accompanying report providing recommended levels for each program.  FYI will report on these figures.

The FY 2012 authorization act passed the House by a vote of 322 to 96.  At 569 pages long, it provides considerable guidance to the Defense Department.  In contrast to most federal agencies that are authorized by multi-year acts that have sometimes expired, a defense authorization act pertains to a single year.  The relationship between the defense authorization and appropriations acts is much closer than with other agencies.  The House Armed Services Committee is chaired by Rep. Howard P. McKeon (R-CA).

H.R. 1540 authorizes $75.6 billion for RDT&E.  The report accompanying the bill has 41 pages of language regarding RDT&E, starting on page 67.  A series of tables on pages 388-428 provide line item authorizations by program element. Excerpts from the language in the earlier section of the report under “Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation, Defense-Wide; Overview" follow:

Basic research international cooperation

“The committee recognizes the importance of basic research to the Department of Defense and is encouraged by the Department’s continued emphasis in supporting funding increases in the budget request.  Basic research is a key long-term strategic investment by the Department that has a track record of supporting the development of important technological capabilities, many of which were not clearly foreseen at the time. The committee is encouraged that basic research investments continue to grow at a rate of 2 percent above inflation, when most other areas of the President’s budget request are flat or declining.

“The committee is also aware that the current basic research strategic plan places significant emphasis on cyber capabilities, including enabling capabilities such as quantum information science. The committee encourages the Department to utilize the basic research program to increase cooperation and collaboration with our foreign allies and partners in the area of cyber security. The committee believes that this could serve as an important component in supporting the development of critical future capabilities for our Armed Forces, as well as boosting the capacity of our foreign partners.”

Defense laboratory survey

“The committee recognizes the key role that Department of Defense (DOD) laboratories play in technology development, scientific innovation, and acquisition excellence. DOD laboratories are critical to maintaining the technological superiority and competency of the military, and to monitor global technology developments to prevent surprise and mitigate adversarial developments. The committee remains committed to ensuring that the Department of Defense laboratory system has the resources and authority to support the scientific and technological management of the military.

“The committee is concerned, however, that there may be certain regulations, instructions, policies and practices instituted by the Department and the military services that may lessen the laboratories effectiveness and efficiency, hindering the innovative spirit that drives the laboratories. The committee believes that an assessment of the possible constraints on the mission of the various laboratories would be beneficial to ensuring their long-term viability as leaders in the pursuit of technological advancement.

“Therefore, the committee directs the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to survey directors of the Department of Defense laboratories to determine how to streamline DOD regulations, instructions and policies impacting the laboratories and to make recommendations to improve the Department of Defense laboratory system. The committee further directs the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to provide a briefing on the results of this survey to the Senate Committee on Armed Services and House Armed Services Committee within 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act.”

Industrial research and development activities

“The committee continues to support the Department of Defense’s research and development enterprise, including the key role played by the Department of Defense laboratories, product centers, and other engineering facilities. The committee believes that these facilities are critical to maintaining the military’s technological superiority, as well as contributing to the economic health and scientific competitiveness of the United States.

“The committee also recognizes that the defense industrial base makes significant investments that complement and sometimes supplant government funding in order to promote technological development.  These industrial research and development (IR&D) investments are important components to creating a sustainable foundation for economic growth and technological advancement. In an era of shrinking budgets and fiscal constraint, the committee encourages the Department and the defense industrial base to create additional information sharing mechanisms that will increase visibility into these IR&D investments and better leverage limited resources, reduce the potential for duplication and waste, and improve government to industry collaboration on research.”

Nanotechnology research

“The committee is aware that the Department of Defense is pursuing research into a variety of nanotechnology applications for defense purposes. New capabilities enabled by the unique performance enhancements of nanostructure materials hold the potential of transforming the technology landscape. The committee encourages the Department to continue to make investments in nanotechnology research that is needed to create the next generation of sensors, electronics, weapons, and manufacturing processes.

“However, the committee is concerned that the Department of Defense lacks sufficient expertise in some emerging research disciplines related to nanotechnology to support a long-term research investment strategy. The committee is aware that a dedicated federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) could support the Department in this effort, but that no such broad-based nanotechnology FFRDC exists.

“Therefore, the committee directs the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to provide a report to the Senate Committee on Armed Services and the House Committee on Armed Services within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act on how the Department of Defense receives support from the research community on nanotechnology issues, including identifying where within the existing FFRDC community that expertise comes from, and assessing whether a dedicated FFRDC is needed.”

Scientific and engineering fellowships

“The committee recognizes the importance of the various fellowship and scholarship programs operated by the Department of Defense and the intelligence agencies. The committee strongly encourages the Department and other agencies to aggressively examine ways to increase the participation of diverse graduate level students in the physical sciences in these programs. The committee also encourages the Department to complement existing programs by partnering with non-profit organizations for these purposes when doing so would be cost-effective and beneficial.”

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