NDAA Inclusions Prioritize Pentagon Emerging Technology Pursuits – Nextgov
Though noticeably light on certain cybersecurity measures, the proposed U.S. defense spending bill for 2022 incorporates many provisions that would mandate new research, pilot programs, oversight and strategies to advance the Pentagon’s adoption of modern and emerging technologies.
The House on Tuesday passed the National Defense Authorization Act conference report, or legislative text that was previously mutually approved by both chambers’ Armed Services Committee leaders. Next, the Senate must pass the legislation, which proposes $768 billion for defense and national security funding.
“This year the defense bill focuses on transforming [the Defense Department] to better deter our adversaries while taking advantage of new, innovative technologies and implementing [a] more cost-effective approach to develop and acquire crucial platforms,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., said.
Here’s a rundown of some notable emerging technology-aligned inclusions in the latest version of the more-than-2,000-page NDAA:
DOD has made multiple strategic moves to prioritize AI and machine learning in recent years. Launched in 2018, the department’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, or JAIC, is a hub that works to enable the acceleration of AI applications across the United States’ entire defense and military enterprise. This month, the Pentagon announced a plan to hire its first chief digital and AI officer and formally establish a new office under their purview to help integrate and improve disparate data and technology efforts across its massive enterprise. That move is necessary, as the department reportedly lacks a full awareness of all its AI work, or explicit metrics to measure the execution of its pursuits.
And a provision in the NDAA also aims to help DOD change that.
Section 226 of the bill would direct federal officials to assess potential AI applications and produce clear metrics and performance objectives for staff to turn to when deploying them. If passed in the final package, each military department secretary and head of each DOD subcomponent would also need to “conduct a comprehensive review of skill gaps in the fields of software development, software engineering, knowledge management, data science, and [AI],” evaluate what’s needed to fill such gaps, and then create recruiting, training, and talent management performance objectives to do so.
That provision would also require DOD to comprehensively review its heaps of AI investments and integrations. Among other requirements, the bill calls for the creation of clearer paths for AI to be further integrated into administrative functions across the agency, like for human resources, logistics, or health care.
Another section of the legislation would mandate officials to “modify the Joint Common Foundation program conducted by the [JAIC] to ensure that [DOD] components can more easily contract with leading commercial artificial intelligence companies to support the rapid and efficient development and deployment of applications and capabilities.”
The bill would also pave the way for a pilot program steered by the JAIC and others to establish data repositories of DOD datasets relevant to AI software and technology that public and private sector organizations can use to develop enhanced AI and machine learning capabilities. Strong AI and the emerging …….