President Barack Obama has signed into law H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013. This legislation provides policy and budget guidance for the Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). It does not provide the actual funding, which is contained in the yet to be enacted FY 2013 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill.
The conference report has language on both STEM education and workers. The report language briefly summarizes the respective positions of the House and Senate authorizing committees regarding a particular section of their bill and explains the final position each chamber’s conferees took in resolving the matter. The “sec.” number refers to the actual bill text.
The conference report discusses STEM education in four sections:
“National Research Council review of defense science and technical graduate education needs (sec. 245)
“The House bill contained a provision (sec. 242) that would direct the Department of Defense (DOD) to have the National Research Council conduct a review of specialized degree-granting graduate programs in the Department in engineering, applied sciences, and management.
“The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.
“The Senate recedes [withdraws from its position] with an amendment that clarifies the scope of the subjects of the review.
“The conferees recognize that fostering and increasing the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and technology management skills of the DOD workforce is an ongoing challenge. The conferees look forward to discussing these challenges with the Department as the terms of reference for this effort are developed.”
“Eligibility for Department of Defense laboratories to enter into educational partnerships with educational institutions in territories and possessions of the United States (sec. 251)
“The House bill contained a provision (sec. 251) that would allow Department of Defense laboratories to enter into educational partnerships with educational institutions in U.S. territories and possessions.
“The Senate amendment contained an identical provision (sec. 214).
“The conference agreement includes this provision.”
“Pilot program to provide transitional assistance to members of the armed forces with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
“The House bill contained a provision (sec. 595) that would authorize the Secretary of Defense to conduct pilot programs to provide transitional assistance to members of the armed forces with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.
“The House recedes [withdraws from its position.]
“The conferees are encouraged by the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Labor revised Transition Assistance Program that will provide a structured, integrated transition model with a goal of career readiness for military personnel as they transition out of military service. The conferees recognize that the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics offer critically needed opportunities for job growth and American competitiveness, and urge that the revised plan include elements to encourage transitioning service members to acquire and develop these skills.”
“Sense of Congress on non-United States citizens who are graduates of United States educational institutions with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (sec. 1082)
“The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1083) that would express the sense of Congress on the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to the Department of Defense.
“The House bill contained no similar provision.
“The House recedes [withdraws from its position] with a clarifying amendment.
“The conferees recognize that in order to maintain and advance the military technological superiority of the armed forces, the United States requires the best and brightest scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to discover, develop, and field the next generation of weapon systems and defense technologies. The capabilities of the armed forces are highly reliant upon advanced technologies that provide our forces with a technological edge on the battlefield.
“Furthermore, the conferees are concerned that more than half of all graduates with advanced scientific and technical degrees from United States institutions of higher education are non-United States citizens who have very limited opportunities upon graduation to contribute to the science and technology activities of the Department of Defense and the United States defense industrial base. Of those graduates that are left that are able to support the Department of Defense and the defense industrial base, competition with other sectors is exacerbated by salary discrepancies and significant administrative obstacles.
“The conferees note that while there is an overarching national priority to increase the numbers of United States citizens who have appropriate advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, it would also be beneficial if the Department of Defense and the defense industrial base were able to access the pool of talent consisting of non-United States citizens with advanced scientific and technical degrees from United States institutions of higher education, many of whom are otherwise returning to their home countries.”