Bush signs Defense Authorization Bill

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2004

In a brief ceremony, President Bush today signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2004, authorizing more than $400 billion in spending for the current fiscal year.

The act, released earlier this month by House-Senate conferees, passed both houses by overwhelming margins — 95 to 3 in the Senate and 362 to 40 in the House. It includes more than $63.4 billion in spending for research, development, test and evaluation — almost $2 billion more than Bush requested.

The authorization bill also calls for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to develop a plan for the management of a single office responsible for the Joint Tactical Radio System. The office will ensure the JTRS program "provides strong and effective joint management." Rumsfeld must submit to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees a report outlining that guidance by Feb. 1.

Also included in the bill is a clause that prevents the Army from spending $170 million designated for its Future Combat Systems program until an independent panel reviews the program's progress and a "milestone B" review is conducted by the Defense Acquisition Board. FCS, the cornerstone of the Army's transformation efforts, received full funding from Congress at $1.7 billion for fiscal 2004.

Another provision in the bill changes the name of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

The authorization bill includes the controversial "Buy America" provisions, which forces the Defense Department to buy certain goods from American companies over their foreign counterparts.

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