DOD seeks $10.8B for science, tech research

The Defense Department's spending on science and technology research, development, test and evaluation would grow slower than the rest of DOD's fiscal 2005 budget if President Bush gets his way.

The administration is asking for more than $401 billion for the overall defense budget, a 7 percent increase from the previous year. But the science and technology portion of DOD's research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) budget would grow at a slower rate of 5.9 percent, increased to $10.8 billion from $10.2 billion in 2004. DOD officials hope, however, recent trends will continue: Legislators ultimately approved $12.1 billion for the science and technology part of RDT&E in 2004.

Even with almost $11 billion, science & technology RDT&E remains less than the administration's previously stated goal of 3 percent of the department's budget.

"Three percent might be relevant, but we never met it," a senior DOD official said. But he questioned if that percentage is a meaningful measurement, because a lot of money is going into universities and national laboratories, which is not included in the 3 percent goal.

Network centricity is also a highlight in the budget, as more than $125 million is slated for the RDT&E aspects of network-centric warfare technology and another $52 million for net-centric enterprise services. An item in the RDT&E documents of the budget slates net centricity to receive $214 million.

With the Bush administration's request, RDT&E spending would grow by about 6.5 percent to $68.9 billion.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Defense Information Systems Agency also saw their RDT&E budget requests increase. DARPA received $2.8 billion in 2004 and is asking for more than $3 billion this year. DISA's RDT&E budget request increased from $312 million to $318 million.

The DOD official did not immediately know the size of the total information technology portion of the budget request. Last year's IT portion was about $27.9 billion of the more than $370 billion budget.

DOD will conduct a briefing today to give more details about the fiscal 2005 budget request.

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