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FYI Number 76: May 25, 2005

House Armed Services Committee Completes DOD Authorization Bill

"This legislation serves as the annual policy and funding blueprint for the vast national security activities of the Departments of Defense and Energy. This year's bill reflects the fact that we are in a time of war, transformation and structural change," said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) when describing H.R. 1815. Hunter's committee approved the $441.6 billion FY 2006 authorization bill on May 19 by almost a unanimous vote. Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO) is the committee's Ranking Member.

The Armed Services Committee's bill recommends policy and parameters for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year starting on September 1. Funding is provided by the FY 2006 appropriations bill. The committee's report (109-089) provides extensive language regarding specific science and technology programs for each of the services as well as defense-wide (DARPA, etc.), and can be accessed at http://www.thomas.loc.gov The Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities has primary jurisdiction over the defense science and technology programs and is chaired by Jim Saxton (R-NJ); the Ranking Member is Marty Meehan (D-MA).

A section of the committee report addresses defense science and technology funding generally, commenting on specific funding levels for each of the services and defense-wide programs, as well as the committee's deep concern about the future workforce.

While the Armed Services Committee report explains that the Administration's request "does not meet the goal of 3 percent established by the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review," the FY 2006 authorization level set by the committee is 14.5% or $1.929 billion less than the current budget. As has been true for other science budgets, perspective comes into play: This year's 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3 budgets total $13.329 billion. The Administration requested a cut of 21.1% in the total budget to $10.522 billion. The Armed Services Committee authorized $11.4 billion. For each service and the defense-wide budgets the authorization level was more than what the Administration requested, but less than this year's budget.

The report language entitled "Defense science and technology funding" follows:

"The [FY 2005] budget request contained $10.5 billion for the Department of Defense science and technology program, including all defense-wide and military service funding for basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development. The request included $1.7 billion for the Army, $1.8 billion for the Navy, $1.9 billion for the Air Force, and $5.0 billion for Defense-Wide science and technology (including $3.1 billion for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)). The committee recommends $11.4 billion for the Department of Defense science and technology program, an increase of $901.6 million to the budget request. The committee's recommendation includes $2.2 billion for the Army (an increase of $477.3 million), $2.0 billion for the Navy (an increase of $189.4 million), $2.1 billion for the Air Force (an increase of $118.5 million), and $5.1 billion for Defense Agency science and technology, an increase of $116.4 million (including $3.1 billion for DARPA, an increase of $11.4 million). [See http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/018.html for additional detail on the request and current spending levels]

"The committee regards defense science and technology investments as critical to maintaining U.S. military technological superiority in the face of growing and changing threats to U.S. national security interests around the world. The budget request is $2.2 billion (or 24 percent) less than the $13.1 billion provided for fiscal year 2005 and is approximately $28.0 million less than the fiscal year 2005 request ($240.0 million less when adjusted for inflation). The committee notes that the budget request is 2.5 percent of the total defense budget request (compared to 2.6 percent of the request in fiscal year 2005) and does not meet the goal of 3 percent established by the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review.

"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 committee commends the Department for the response of the defense science and technology base to the emerging critical operational needs in support of the global war on terrorism and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Elsewhere in this report the committee has recommended increased funding to further accelerate the transition of advanced technologies.

"The committee notes that earlier this year the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science and Engineering released its congressionally directed report ‘Assessment of Department of Defense Basic Research.' [See http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/009.html.] The report concluded that the Department is managing its basic research program effectively, but made a number of recommendations regarding the program. The committee directs the Secretary of Defense to report to the Congress with the Fiscal Year 2007 budget request the actions being taken or recommended by the Department to implement the recommendations contained in the report.

"The committee is deeply concerned about sustaining and maintaining DOD science and technology infrastructure, about the projected loss to the defense science and engineering work force over the next ten years of an estimated 13,000 scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technicians, and about the actions necessary to enable the Department to recruit and maintain a skilled and trained defense science and engineering work force. In the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (Public Law 108-375), Congress established a pilot program ‘Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART)' within the Department to provide targeted education assistance to individual seeking a baccalaureate or an advanced degree in science and engineering disciplines that are critical to national security. Elsewhere in this report, the committee has recommended a provision which will build on the SMART program and improve DOD's ability to recruit, develop, and retain individuals critical to fulfilling the Department's national security mission. [Note that this section explains that the bill would "would make permanent the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation program. . . . ]

"Despite the positive aspects of DOD's science and technology program, the committee is concerned about long-term projections for reductions in DOD science and technology as a percentage of total obligation authority, and in short-term trends in the science and technology accounts of some of the military departments and defense agencies. The committee cannot emphasize too strongly the need for the Department to maintain a strong and robustly funded science and technology program that will provide the advanced technologies needed to assure technical dominance of our armed forces on any current or future battlefield."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3095

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