At a March 31 hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats
and Capabilities, a senior Defense Department official and commanders
from the Air Force, Army, and Navy voiced support for the future
allocation of 3% of the Defense Department's budget to science and
technology programs. The subcommittee's senators also expressed
strong support for S&T, although they gave no indication about the
2004 authorization levels for the 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 programs.
Subcommittee chairman Pat Robert (R-KS) opened the two-hour hearing
by declaring that S&T is "critical" to the nation's defense,
though is but a small slice of the overall DOD budget. The pay off
from such investments is tenfold, he stated, resulting in "awesome"
military superiority. The challenge, Roberts said, was in rapidly
moving laboratory-developed technologies to the battlefield.
Ranking Minority Member Jack Reed's (D-RI) remarks were similarly
supportive. He spoke of the need to "faithfully invest a small
stable" amount of money in the S&T program, and remarked that
Bush Administration's FY 2004 request of 2.69% of the total defense
budget for S&T programs fell short of the 3% mark. Long-term
projections for FY 2009 would result in an even lower spending level
of 2.4%, he said.
The 3% target was in the 2001 "Quadrennial Defense Review"(see
3.2% of the defense budget for the S&T programs for this year.
The FY 2004 Bush Administration request for the three programs is
$10,232 million, which is a 4.9% reduction from the current budget of
$10,763 million. Michael Wynne, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense
(Acquisition and Technology) addressed the overall funding level in
both his written and oral testimony. The DOD S&T request is 2.69%
of the total DOD request, he said, characterizing this as "a very
good budget request." Noting that the administration has increased
the budget request by almost 25% in just two years, Wynne cautioned
that "simply adding money to the S&T accounts will not, by
Each of the three commanders (General Paul J. Kern, USA; General
Lester L. Lyles, USAF; and Vice Admiral Joseph W. Dyer, USN) outlined
in their written and oral testimony the importance of S&T to the
nation's defense. All expressed concern about future shortfalls in
the science and engineering workforce, as did Wynne. Many cited
nanotechnology as an emerging force in the transformation of the
In answer to a question from Reed about the 3% funding goal, each of
the witnesses described their support for it as a worthy benchmark.
Dyer added a caveat: the challenge of being able to afford within
budget constraints everything that needed to be done. Later
expanding his remarks, he told the senators that it was difficult to
ascertain how much money was enough, adding that the S&T program
must be attractive to retain the workforce. Lyles commented that
achieving the 3% goal immediately would be difficult, saying it would
be necessary to prioritize where dollars are to be spent. He spoke
of the need to leverage available funding.
Also attending the hearing were Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Senator
Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). They
discussed the importance of S&T to national defense, as well as
stability in annual funding and overall funding levels. Wynne
characterized the S&T funding process as cyclic: "in a given
can be a little down or a little up." Some of the commanders spoke
of previous shortfalls in procurement, and how the emphasis on
spending over the next few years will be on transforming the
Roberts concluded the hearing by asking about hiring procedures, and
the ability of the services to track the development of foreign
research. His final request to the witnesses was that they provide
him with a list of unfunded S&T priorities.