dept of defense

Committees pass defense authorization bills affecting small business policy

The U.S. House and Senate Armed Services Committees recently passed their versions of the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation includes provisions for federal labs, SBIR and SBA technical assistance programs. These portions of the bills are currently very different between the chambers, and, if passed in their current forms, the final bill could address a wide range of policies affecting small business and innovation.

US House appropriations bills would make major cuts to innovation

The House Appropriations Committee began releasing FY 2018 “markup” budget bills this week, and the proposals would cut billions in non-defense spending. EDA would lose $117 million in program funding, SBA’s entrepreneurial development programs would lose $34 million, NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership would lose $30 million, and Energy’s ARPA-E would be eliminated, among other cuts.

Does Defense have $250M IOU to small businesses?

The SBIR program has been a legislated requirement of the Department of Defense, an agency responsible for roughly 40 percent of all federal extramural R&D spending, for more than three decades. One might expect that over that amount of time, the Department of Defense would have developed a system to become compliant with SBIR’s fundamental provision that a minimum threshold of innovation research spending be directed toward small businesses. Yet, a new report from the Government Accountability Office concludes DOD couldn’t say if it was meeting the threshold because, DoD did not submit the required obligations data. The report states “DOD officials told [the GAO] that obtaining obligations data would require requesting information from more than 10 individual program offices that, in turn, would have to request the information from various DOD comptrollers, which would be a major effort.”

Highlights from the President's FY 2018 Budget Request: Dept. of Defense

The FY 2018 budget request for the Department of Defense (DOD) would provide $574.5 billion in discretionary base funding. Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) would receive a total $83.3 billion – an $11 billion (15.2 percent) increase. This includes $13.2 billion for Science and Technology, a $0.6 billion (4.8 percent) increase, which is comprised of Basic Research, Applied Research and Advanced Technology Development. DoD Basic Research would receive $2.2 billion ($0.2 billion; 4.8 percent increase), Applied Research $5 billion ($0.2 billion; 3.3 percent increase), and Advanced Technology Development $6 billion ($0.4 billion; 6.4 percent increase).

Budget deal supports innovation, research

Congress has passed a budget for FY 2017 that largely continues support for federal innovation programs and R&D investments. Among the highlights are $17 million for Regional Innovation Strategies (a $2 million increase over FY 2016), level funding of $130 million for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership and $5 million for SBA’s clusters program. In reviewing dozens of line items, offices that had received significant cuts in the White House’s skinny budget appear to receive some of the largest funding increases (such as the Appalachian Regional Commission, Community Development Block Grant and ARPA-E). However, with the exception of multi-billion dollar increases for Department of Defense R&D, many increases are rather small in terms of overall dollars. This is, at least in part, a reflection of non-defense spending caps rising by only $40 million for FY 2017, limiting the availability of new funds. In this context, science and innovation gains are particularly impressive, with a five percent overall increase for federal R&D that particularly benefits NASA and NIH.

$80 million awarded for Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh will be home to the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing (ARM) Innovation Hub, the newest member of the Manufacturing USA network. The U.S. Department of Defense announced that American Robotics, Inc., an independent nonprofit spun out of Carnegie Mellon University will receive roughly $80 million in federal funding to launch the institute, matched with $173 million in support from the university and a consortium representing approximately 120 industry partners, 40 academic institutions and 60 non-profit and government entities.

DOD Announces Intent to Fund New $80M Robotics-Focused MII

The Department of Defense’s Army Contracting Command released a new federal funding opportunity (FFO) to establish and sustain a Robots in Manufacturing Environments Manufacturing Innovation Institute (RIME-MII) to increase U.S. competitiveness in robotics applied primarily in manufacturing environments. The intent of the new $80 million RIME-MII is to:

Winner of New Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, New MII Competitions Announced

President Obama announced  the creation of the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (Smart MII) – a $140 million public-private partnership to develop smart sensors for use in advanced manufacturing. Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) – a consortium of nearly 200 partners from academia and industry as well as nonprofit organizations – will lead the Smart MII.

DOD Awards $110M Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute to New York

Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Research Foundation for the State University of New York will receive a $110 million federal grant from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to lead the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM-Photonics). The Department of Defense-funded grant will be supplemented by a $250 million investment from the state of New York with additional funding commitments from public and private partners expected to exceed $245 million over the next five years.

NSF InfoBrief: Federal R&D Obligations Dropped by 9 Percent in FY13

Funding obligated by federal agencies for research and development (R&D) and R&D plant (facilities and fixed equipment) dropped from $141 billion to $127 billion (9 percent decrease) in current dollars from FY12 to FY13, according to a new National Science Foundation (NSF) InfoBrief. NSF researchers found that federal funding for research dropped by 4 percent; support for development efforts dropped by 14 percent; and, R&D plant funds were reduced by 11 percent.

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