WASHINGTON — House lawmakers proposed a surge in funding for the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit following its leader’s sudden resignation, reportedly over concerns about a lack of support for the office’s mission to transition commercial technology for military use.
The House Armed Services Committee on Monday released its version of the fiscal 2023 defense policy bill, which recommends $113.4 million for DIU. That’s about $46 million more than what the Defense Department requested.
The proposal follows calls from committee members for greater investment in commercial technology. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., urged a 10-fold increase in DIU funding at a cyber, innovative technologies and information systems subcommittee meeting last month.
“The department has repeatedly emphasized harnessing commercial technology better,” Moulton said May 12. “It’s been Congress, not the department, that has repeatedly pushed investment in DIU and in innovation.”
DIU Director Mike Brown in late April announced he would resign when his four-year term ends in September, despite an option to extend his service by one year. Brown told his colleagues at the time he was leaving, in part, because of a lack of support from the Pentagon’s senior leaders, Politico reported.
The committee’s recommended increase for DIU would add $15 million for national security innovation capital, $10 million for joint programs, $5.6 million for hybrid space architecture work, $5 million for electric propulsion and $2.5 million for artificial intelligence. It also proposes $8 million for DIU prototype projects.
Elsewhere in the bill, lawmakers called on DIU to work with the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office to create a Mission-Based Rapid Acquisition Account focused on increasing the department’s work with small businesses. The measure proposes $30 million for the effort in fiscal 2023 and requires regular briefings from the deputy secretary of defense on how the department is using the funds.
Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She has covered the U.S. military since 2012, with a focus on the Air Force and Space Force. She has reported on some of the Defense Department’s most significant acquisition, budget and policy challenges.