The Insider

Policy bill would authorize $10M competition to identify cause of physiological episodes

By Justin Katz  
November 14, 2017 at 1:06 PM

Congressional authorizers want the defense secretary to establish a $10 million prize competition to identify the root cause of physiological episodes on Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force training and operational aircraft, according to the fiscal year 2018 defense policy conference report.

The provision requires the defense secretary to notify Congress 15 days prior to establishing the competition "to certify that any competition would not compromise classified or proprietary information or intellectual property," according to the document.

The legislation also mandates the Navy secretary provide Congress with updates about the service's team investigating the physiological episodes within one month of enactment and once every three months thereafter until Jan. 1, 2020.

While Navy officials have previously said they have not discovered a "smoking gun" for the physiological episodes, one Senate aide said the competition would act as "another tool" to help the service address the problem.

Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) voiced his support for the provision during Navy Secretary Richard Spencer's nomination hearing, Inside the Navy previously reported.

"We could offer a prize to anyone in the country, anyone on the face of the globe, for that matter, and you don't pay the money unless you -- unless you get a solution," he said July 11.