Report: DOD Budget Request Shows IT Increases, Shift to Information Warfare Focus


“The future character of warfare will be defined more by information than by hardware,” according to an analysis by Govini.

A detailed new look at the Defense Department’s 2022 budget request shows it is prioritizing long-term investments in areas like cybersecurity that have the potential to change how wars are fought. 

Decision science firm Govini on Thursday released a report breaking down the 2022 budget request with an eye toward determining whether the budget supports stated DOD strategies. According to the analysis, the department is increasing research, development, test and evaluation funds, reflecting a preference for long-term investments. 

“DOD’s quest for military technical advantage over its great power rivals is seeing a shift in terms of its level of emphasis from muscle heavy capabilities like platform and hardware towards insight heavy capabilities, like advanced computing power, software, data,” Jim Mitre, Govini’s chief strategy officer, said during a webinar unveiling the scorecard. “The ‘22 budget sustains this shift to cement the fact that the future character of warfare will be defined more by information than by hardware.”

The 2022 budget request is just that—a request—as Congress controls the purse strings. But the budget request does establish a sense of the new administration’s priorities. Govini trawled through years of data to help provide comparisons for the 2022 numbers. During the rollout of the budget request, DOD officials emphasized the proposal is biased toward the future.  

According to the Govini report—its eighth annual federal scorecard—DOD spending on IT systems and command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) increases in the budget request by 7.8% over the enacted amount in 2021. 

Under the overarching IT systems and C4ISR category, enterprise communications saw the largest increase at 23.1% over 2021 enacted levels. “Other IT”—a category that includes tech such as unclassified non-combat enterprise networks, backbone IT infrastructure, base communications, and non-operational IT data storage and processingsaw the second-largest increase in the category with 12.5%, and general IT dollars also rose 8.6%. 

Govini also charted a 9.8% increase in artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as a 0.6% increase in cyber, pushed largely by a 9.8% increase in cyber operations specifically.