House and Senate Armed Services Committees

Science and technology provisions included in Congress’ latest defense policy update reflect lawmakers ongoing interest in accelerating the adoption of emerging technologies; advancing specific technology categories such as quantum computing, microelectronics, and biotechnology; and streamlining collaboration between the Defense Department and extramural researchers.

The House-passed version of Congress' annual defense policy legislation includes a government-wide ban on federal research grantees participating in “malign” talent recruitment programs supported by China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The Senate has advanced a more expansive version of the restriction through separate legislation.

In support of her nomination to be under secretary of defense for research and engineering, Heidi Shyu answered questions this week from the Senate Armed Services Committee about matters such as defense innovation priorities and research security.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 authorizes major new initiatives in advanced technologies and makes an array of policy updates aimed at bolstering U.S. private-sector innovation, the defense STEM workforce, and the environmental resilience of military infrastructure and operations.

The House and Senate versions of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act continue multi-year efforts to address national security risks related to climate change, bolster and diversify the defense STEM workforce, and increase defense labs’ ability to collaborate and innovate.

The House and Senate versions of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act make significant policy proposals for the National Nuclear Security Administration as well as for the Defense Department’s missile defense and space technology development efforts.

The House and Senate versions of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act propose numerous provisions aimed at increasing U.S. competitiveness in commercial technologies that have important national security applications, including microelectronics, artificial intelligence, 5G telecommunications, and advanced nuclear reactors.

This bulletin reviews provisions proposed for inclusion in Congress’ annual defense policy update that are focused on bolstering the “national security innovation base” and protecting federally funded research from exploitation by rival governments.

The Department of Defense is seeking a marginal decrease in its Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation budget, which is currently at a record-high level of $109 billion. Prioritizing work on near-term technologies, the department proposes a 13% cut for its early-stage Science and Technology accounts.

This year's National Defense Authorization Act includes numerous provisions bearing on science and technology policy, including ones establishing a Space Force, creating a Climate Security Advisory Council, and directing the Defense Department’s research security efforts.