Spotlight on innovation in the 2023 defense policy bill

The Defense Innovation Unit, which is charged with facilitating the development and acquisition of cutting edge technologies at the Defense Department, is poised to receive double its requested budget for 2023.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), The ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems, said in opening remarks that he was “proud” of the Defense Innovation Unit’s budget request from $ 42.9 million to $ 81 million in the House version of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.

The HASC passed an amendment to the bill 42-17 authorizing $ 839 billion in funding for the Defense Department. That amount is more than the Biden administration’s budget request but about $ 8 billion less than the Senate’s version of the bill passed last week.

“DIU’s mission to bring commercial technology into the Department to improve capabilities and deploy them more quickly,” Banks said during the markup June 22. “DIU’s work should be expanding, not shrinking, which is why we doubled its funding from last Kat numbers. I encourage the appropriators to follow suit. “

The bill also includes the $ 8 million bump for DIU in authorized prototyping funds for artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Michael Brown, the outgoing director of the Defense Innovation Unit, said those funds, which could be used to continue expanding the agency’s ability “to have much more outreach to international allies and partners consider. “

“We’ve made a lot of progress. And I think we’ve got a blueprint for some of the things that can be done in the next phase. , “Brown said on June 22 during a virtual event with the Center for a New American Security, and a Washington, DC-based think-tank.

However, it is difficult to discuss whether or not the Defense Innovation Unit should have a brief.

Congress gave the defense secretary the greenlight to expand the agency’s footprint literally in the 2022 defense authorization bill. This year, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) wanted to make sure that expansion is economically disadvantaged communities with an amendment that has been requested by January 2023 on “

do not have a DIU presence and strategy to continue doing so. “

That amendment was adopted at 30-28, but several committee Republicans spoke out against it. Banks said the measure would “straddle DIU with more mandates and make them do more things that don’t have anything to do with the mission.”

But with a significant topline increase in sight for DOD, Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), Said there was nothing burdensome about a briefing on what innovation the body was doing amid its authorized expansion.

“We are about to raise the $ 36 billion defense budget, I think $ 37 [billion] and a briefing is overburdensome? When asked for information Sometimes they are responsive. Often they’re not. We’re asking for a briefing, “Brown said.

Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) Said that out of the known tech hubs was central to DIU’s mission.

“Ideas don’t just come from rich, wealthy neighborhoods, okay,” Smith said. “[They] don’t just come from Silicon Valley. They don’t just come from Bellevue. They come from all over the country and I think it’s appropriate to encourage them, I think that’s core to their mission. “

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