Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Chairman of the Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation Subcommittee, delivered the following opening remarks at a hearing on science, technology, and innovation at the Department of Defense.
Rep. Gallagher’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Welcome to today’s Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation subcommittee hearing entitled “Science, Technology, and Innovation at the Department of Defense.” Today’s hearing provides an opportunity to discuss the Fiscal Year 2024 President’s Budget Request for the Department of Defense’s Science and Technology policy and programs, but more concretely to investigate how the Department is and is not enabling our warfighters to operate the systems necessary for competing and winning in a 21st century conflict with highly technical and advanced adversaries.
I’d like direct our witnesses’ and members’ attention to a chilling graphic that I hope will guide our conversation today.
In 2007, amid the Iraq war, a commercial-off-the-shelf version of a system designed to protect warfighters from improvised explosive devices was fielded in low quantities to ground forces in US Central Command to protect them as they transited across the region. What is displayed on the screen, is the broken and unjustifiably lengthy acquisitions process to design and scale a product that had proven to keep our troops alive and was commercially available. From when the product demonstrated success in the field, it took the armed service six years to create a requirement, and another five to trudge through the Planning, Programming, and Budget phase of the budget cycle. It took the Defense Innovation Unit only two years to complete a rapid prototype based on those requirements, followed by yet another three years of Federal Acquisitions Regulation contracting—rather than a streamlined production-Other Transaction Authority. The service finally began initial fielding in late 2022 and early 2023. To put it simply, it took the Department of Defense 11 years to translate warfighter demand into a funded marketplace demand and five more to deliver a product that saves American service members. This is only one example of likely thousands—it is the norm, not the exception. Our job—and our witnesses’ jobs—is to deliver the best leading-edge technology in America to the point of need in minimal time; and the challenges we face against the Chinese Communist Party and our efforts to defeat Russia in Ukraine only further amplify this need.
The United States may be home to the most vibrant and advanced innovation ecosystem in the world, but the way in which the Department defaults to and normalizes processes like this case study, weakens deterrence and has proven to have a deadly effect to our own warfighters. We are joined today by the Honorable Heidi Shyu, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and the Honorable William LaPlante, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. There are positioned to lead the development and procurement of critical capabilities for the Department of Defense, so as we review and discuss this coming year’s budget for leading edge technology, I ask both of you: what are you doing to make sure this is not how the department does business…what are you doing to bring future capability into the hands of warfighters in six to twelve months, not six to twelve years?
Following the open portion of today’s hearing, members will reconvene in 2337 RHOB for a classified briefing with additional representatives from DARPA and the military services. With that, I will now yield to the Ranking Member, Mr. Khanna, for his opening remarks.