House passes DOD authorization act

The House of Representatives last week approved a bill that would give the Defense Department one of the largest increases in spending in three decades, including funds for major information technology projects.

The House May 9 passed the fiscal 2003 Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4546) on a vote of 359-58, authorizing $383 billion in national security spending for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1.

To a great extent, the bill matches the Bush administration's DOD budget request, said Ray Bjorklund, a vice president at market research firm Federal Sources Inc. It also largely supports the administration's effort to transform the military and homeland security.

For example, the bill recommends $714 million to the Army for research and development on its Future Combat System, matching the administration's request, and another $122 million to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the project.

The House Armed Services Committee, in its summary of the bill, praised Army and DARPA officials' efforts "to incorporate high-risk, high-gain technologies into a family of future combat systems."

The Army considers the Future Combat System a cornerstone of its transformation to a lighter, more lethal force. In March, the Army selected Boeing Co.'s Space and Communications group and Science Applications International Corp. as the lead systems integrators for the project.

"This bipartisan bill recognizes that we are a nation at war and provides the manpower, the equipment and the technology that the United States military needs to successfully conduct the war against terrorism," said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Stump (R-Ariz.).

The Senate has nearly completed work on its version of the authorization bill, officials said, and then the House and Senate will work out the differences between the two bills.

John Pike, a former defense analyst with the Federation of American Scientists and now director of, a nonprofit organization, said the impact of this budget on homeland security would not become clear until the role of DOD's newly formed Northern Command, which would manage homeland security efforts, is more defined and until a decision is made about giving Tom Ridge, director of the Office of Homeland Security, a position in President Bush's Cabinet.

"It's too soon to say in the sense that [the Northern Command] remains a view graph, and it's still completely unclear if Gov. Ridge will wind up being a Cabinet secretary," Pike said. "Those continue to be the wild cards, and everything else really depends on them."

Jack Spencer, a defense analyst with the Heritage Foundation, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., said the Bush administration "is clearly putting a lot of faith in technology and rightfully so."

IT is the crux of DOD's transformation and will enable it to conduct warfare in new ways by "greatly reducing the size of the force and greatly increasing its mobility," he said.

About the Authors

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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