Senate NDAA pushes for more domestic production, increased cyber authorities

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the 2022 defense authorization bill, calling for more cyber authorities, tech-favoring acquisition policies, and domestic production of critical materials.

Editorial credit: Katherine Welles / A sign at the entrance to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing room in Washington, DC on July 18, 2017.

Image credit: Katherine Welles /

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the 2022 defense authorization bill, calling for more cyber authorities, tech-favoring acquisition policies, and domestic production of critical materials.

The bill was advanced July 22 and awaits a Senate vote and conference with the House Armed Services Committee to resolve differences between each chamber's version of the bill. The HASC is expected to finalize its bill in September.

The SASC's 2022 National Defense Authorization Act authorizes $25 billion more than was requested by the Biden administration's $715 billion proposal for fiscal year 2022. Some of the plus-up targets cybersecurity efforts and unfunded requirements for combatant commands.

The bill also authorizes $1 billion more for research and development for prototypes in several areas, including artificial intelligence, microelectronics, and 5G. There's also a $500 million increase for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. However, despite the massive ceiling raise, Congressional appropriators aren't guaranteed to dole out the additional authorized funds.

More for cyber, research, and microelectronics

The committee's bill signals strong support for increased cybersecurity authorities and capabilities with a $268.4 million increase to the $10 billion budget request to support the Defense Department's cybersecurity efforts.

Additionally the bill gives the commander of U.S. Cyber Command responsibility for controlling and managing the budget and resources pertaining to the Cyber Mission Forces. If adopted, the commander would also be required to create a "voluntary process" to coordinate with commercial IT and cybersecurity companies to mitigate foreign malicious cyber actors.

The bill also requires DOD to assess its policy and capabilities needed to defend against ransomware attacks and directs the defense secretary to develop a pilot program focusing on the viability of teaming with "internet ecosystem companies to discover and disrupt the use of their platforms, systems, services, and infrastructure by malicious cyber actors," according to an executive summary of the bill.

The secretary would also need to submit a report on DOD's plans for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Program.

Under the bill, the comptroller would be directed to assess the department's information and communications technology supply chain risks with a special focus on operational security standards for buying microelectronic products and services.

On the microelectronics front, the bill also mandates the creation of the research network originally called for in the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act introduced in 2020 and that the Senate passed in June. The bill would also require defense contractors to disclose sources of printed circuit boards used in some systems.

Acquisition and budget reform

The bill calls for a commission on budget reform through an independent review of DOD's Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) process. Additionally, DOD's comptroller, CIO, and chief data officer would have to submit a plan on consolidating the IT systems used to manage data and support the PPBE process.

An additional $25 million was authorized for industrial base programs geared toward developing advanced manufacturing capabilities and related workforce training. There are also authorized funds for the Acquisition Innovation Research Center to develop new policies and practices.

The bill also includes several notable acquisition policy provisions, including requiring the defense secretary to pinpoint the top and bottom performing acquisition programs, increasing oversight of implementation of watchdog recommendations from the Government Accountability Office, and mandating DOD's acquisition chief and Joint Requirements Oversight Council chair to "assess impediments and incentives to improving the acquisition of commercial technology, products, and services."

The bill moves to repeal the preference for fixed-price contracts, establishes a pilot that looks at "unique contracting mechanisms for emerging technology" to speed acquisition process and authorizes use of Commercial Solutions Openings to buy innovation technology solutions.