7 key provisions of the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill

An agreement hammered out by lawmakers as part of the $633 billion defense authorization bill for fiscal 2013 would remove commercial satellites from the U.S. Munitions List, reports Aviation Week.

The satellite industry has fought hard against the inclusion of such spacecraft on the list on the grounds that it has enabled other nations to expand their own satellite industries at the expense of the U.S. industry, the story said.

The provision is one of seven worth noting from the conference version of the bill. Six other key provisions are:

  • Biofuel investment. The Defense Department would be allowed to continue its biofuel investments. However, funding for construction of a biofuel refinery would not occur until the departments of Agriculture and Energy provide their share of funding agreed to in the initial Defense Production Act.
  • Air Force structure. Lawmakers accepted a November counterproposal from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that would roll back the proposed aircraft retirements and personnel reductions. The Air Force will be required to continue to maintain another 32 C-130 or C-27J tactical airlift aircraft to meet Army airlift requirements. A commission will be be established to review future force structure changes.
  • Global Hawk Block 30. The conference version continues the prohibition on retiring Global Hawk Block 30 aircraft in fiscal 2013.
  • MEADS program. The DOD would be blocked from providing funding to finish the final year of development on Lockheed Martin’s Medium Extended Air Defense System, a program that the United States, Italy and Germany have been pursuing jointly.
  • Cybersecurity. Defense contractors would be required to report cyberattacks on their systems to the DOD.
  • Civilian workforce. DOD civilian federal employment would be cut in concert with planned reductions in military personnel.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) cited the inclusion of this cybersecurity provision requiring defense contractors to report cyberattacks on their systems as "significant progress" for congressional efforts to improve U.S. cybersecurity, reports the National Journal.

Conferees on the bill modified the provision regarding DOD job cuts, which has been estimated to mean a cut in federal employee positions at the department of about 5 percent, or some 36,000 positions, over five years, reports the Washington Post. A similar percentage reduction would apply to employment by defense contractors.

According to a summary released by Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee, the compromise language “requires a percentage reduction in the civilian and service contractor employee workforces that is proportional to the reduction in military end strength over a five-year period but stipulates that it must be implemented in compliance with Total Force Management statutes and policy.”

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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