A pair of lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee secured nearly a dozen amendments in the panel’s version of the next defense policy bill intended to further the Pentagon’s artificial intelligence adoption, including assessing new contracting mechanisms and establishing readiness goals.

Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), chair Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems (CITI), and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), head of the House Republican Conference, sponsored the provisions which were direct recommendations from the National Security Commission on AI (NSCAI).

Low angled view of the U.S. Capitol East Facade Front in Washington, D.C.

“To stay ahead of our adversaries, we must innovate faster. We must streamline our acquisition policies. And we must have an AI-ready defense workforce—from the lab experts to generals and admirals who understand what is possible. I am proud to have partnered so closely with Congresswoman Stefanik to establish the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, review their recommendations, and champion provisions based on their report in both last year’s NDAA and in these amendments,” Langevin said in a statement.

The full slate of 11 amendments were adopted by voice during HASC’s FY ‘22 NDAA markup last week.

HASC advanced its version of the next NDAA with a bipartisan 57-2 vote, moving forward the bill after agreeing to boost defense spending by nearly $25 billion (Defense Daily, Sept. 2). 

NSCAI’s final report, released in March, detailed steps required to ensure the U.S. is “AI-ready” by 2025,  to include a call for doubling AI research and development funding annually to reach $32 billion per year by fiscal year 2026 and recommending several steps to drive technology adoption efforts (Defense Daily, March 1). 

To bolster software acquisition efforts aimed at furthering AI adoption, one amendment builds on NSCAI’s recommendation to assess whether the Pentagon needs new contracting mechanisms to accelerate technology delivery.

A separate amendment calls for establishing a new “Warfighting Innovation Transition Project” five-year pilot program that would look to improve the Pentagon’s ability for facilitating agile acquisition and the transition of AI-related projects from prototyping into production.

HASC also adopted an amendment that would set new metrics for AI readiness goals, requiring the Defense Department “to review the potential applications of artificial intelligence and digital technology to Department of Defense platforms, processes, and operations and establish performance objectives,” according to Langevin and Stefanik. 

Additionally, the panel adopted NSCAI-related measures requiring the development of a new Information Environment Superiority Strategy and directing the Pentagon to create a plan detailing investment required to maintain “a modern, robust digital ecosystem” necessary to facilitate AI innovation.