tech budget (Sergey Nivens/

Connected Warrior

DOD's tech programs at risk under stopgap 2021 budget, Norquist warns

The Army is betting big on its augmented reality headset that helps improve situational awareness for soldiers in close combat, requesting to buy more than 40,000 of them in fiscal 2021 and eventually more than 100,000. But David Norquist, the deputy defense secretary, worries those plans could get derailed if Congress doesn't provide on-time funding.

"[Integrated Visual Augmentation System goggles] are set to move those into the next stage where there's some procurement that's involved, and there's production. But if there's a [continuing resolution, they're going to need to wait. And they're going to need to wait until we get to the other side of the CR," Norquist told the House Budget Committee during a March 10 hearing focusing on DOD's 2021 budget proposal.

Norquist also said buying software, which requires constant updating to ensure cybersecurity in ships, aircraft, ground vehicles, could also be affected.

"This is a challenging area because everyone notices the ships, the planes, but behind it you have software, and software can have cybersecurity vulnerabilities," Norquist said. "One of the issues is helping secure the businesses that are suppliers to DOD so their technology is not stolen."

Norquist said continuing resolutions posed a significant problem because they can prevent starting new programs.

"The real risk to this over time is the department gets so used to it, it just moves its contracts to the spring and builds a six-month…delay because it just assumes it will not get the budget on time. So in a government where speed and efficiency is always a challenge and you're trying to push, the CR pushes things to be slower and more inefficient and wasteful."

Lawmakers were concerned about how the global spread of the coronavirus would affect the next year's budget. Production of the F-35 has already been slowed due to the outbreak and mitigation efforts.

Norquist said DOD is continuing to examine production facilities.

"A lot of this is basic hygiene. It's hand sanitation. It's keeping distances. It's teleworking if you need to have that set up. We'll work on that. But we're going to have to look and see if it begins to expand and spread what we need to do to keep those production facilities up and running and what measures and additional ones we need to take," the deputy defense secretary said. "And how that will affect the expenditures in the budget."

This article first appeared on FCW, a partner site with Defense Systems. 

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

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