WASHINGTON — House lawmakers called for an independent review of the Pentagon’s test and evaluation resourcing strategy in light of a growing infrastructure and equipment shortfall.
The House Armed Services cyber, innovative technologies and information systems subcommittee released its version of the fiscal 2023 defense policy bill June 7. Among its recommendations, to be considered as part of the panel’s formal markup process this week, are two provisions aimed at bolstering the test and evaluation community.
One provision would require the U.S. Department of Defense to contract with a federally funded research and development center to conduct an independent review of its “Strategic Plan for Test Resources” — the 30-year planning tool the department uses to identify resource needs. The report should consider whether that planning mechanism is adequate and how past needs forecasts have aligned with actual DoD investments.
A second reporting provision calls on the department’s top weapons tester to select at least one major program within each military service and evaluate whether testing resources are sufficient.
Pentagon officials have highlighted major gaps in testing and lab infrastructure in recent months. C4ISRNET reported in May that the department identified $5.7 billion in unfunded, priority testing and lab projects in its annual report for fiscal 2023.
Speaking with reporters on background June 7 to discuss the details of the draft markup, committee staff said the intent of the proposed provisions is to ensure the testing community has the equipment and funding it needs to fulfill its requirements.
“We place a lot of demands on that community, and those demands are not always aligned with the resources that they have,” a committee staff member said. “This is geared towards shining a light on some of the shortfalls.”
Congress added $800 million for testing and lab infrastructure in the Fiscal 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Act, much of it geared toward supporting hypersonic weapons testing. That increase only addressed a portion of DoD’s $3.3 billion shortfall for that year, in part because of a policy that requires the services to have completed 35% of a military construction project’s design and planning phase before Congress can consider providing funding that wasn’t included in the main budget request.
In its fiscal 2023 report, DoD identifies 26 of 126 projects as meeting the 35% planning requirement. The remaining 100 ineligible projects represent about $5.2 billion of its $5.7 billion shortfall.