House authorizers tout biotech provisions as they advance cyber mark

By Briana Reilly / June 8, 2022 at 12:29 PM

Leaders of the House Armed Services Committee's cyber panel touted their defense policy proposal's work to bolster biotechnology as they quickly advanced the measure today, setting it up for consideration before the full body of military authorizers later this month.

Included in the cyber, innovative technologies and information systems subcommittee’s mark of the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill released Tuesday, the biotechnology provisions would require the Pentagon’s chief technology officer to assess the current national biotech industrial base and offer recommendations for strengthening it.

Highlighted by both subcommittee Chairman Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Ranking Member Jim Banks (R-IN), the language would set a Feb. 1, 2023, deadline for the report, which would also include information on the gaps in the industrial base ranging from supply chains to domestic manufacturing capabilities, in addition to any risks that may threaten the production of biotechnology capabilities.

Saying the area “shows significant problems for being able to address some of the material challenges of the department,” Banks noted ahead of the vote today that leveraging biotechnology requires “a better understanding of the existing” industrial base.

Banks also spotlighted a provision of the mark that would direct DOD officials to look into developing a repository to track “mission-critical batteries” and assess the feasibility of standardizing those battery types. The provision is born out of committee concern tied to a battery supply chain report provided to lawmakers in January 2022, according to the bill draft.

“Batteries are necessary to operate in challenging conditions and the department lacks a department-wide understanding of what batteries it has and what batteries it needs,” he said.

Langevin, meanwhile, emphasized in his opening remarks the reports that would be required under the bill surrounding DOD’s strategy on accelerating quantum computing, and determining the cost of slow and poor performing software and information technology systems as a measure of lost working hours annually.

Other parts of the legislation would require the Government Accountability Office to review officials' planned schedule and costs tied to implementing Joint All-Domain Command and Control, compel Pentagon officials to brief lawmakers on their cyber certification program and Software Bill of Materials and more.

The subcommittee's portion of the legislation cleared swiftly with unanimous support before it was referred to the full committee, which is scheduled to vote June 22 on the defense authorization bill.