There is a provision in the defense bill for the fiscal year 2023 that significantly increases funding for increasing research capacity at institutions that enroll disproportionately large numbers of people from underrepresented groups.
The 2023 NDAA allocated $131.7 million to the Pentagon to launch a pilot program to strengthen research and development partnerships between the DOD and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The bill is a response to a report that called for “social justice” policies to be implemented agency-wide within the DOD earlier in 2022.
The bill has bipartisan roots in the Senate, despite Republican lawmakers’ criticism of the DOD’s emphasis on race and ethnicity in the ranks and other arms of the sprawling defense establishment. Some legislators feel that the agency’s narrow focus limits its ability to address the global security threats that the United States currently faces.
The FY23 NDAA makes significant investments in research, innovation, and diversity to make America safer and stronger. House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith said in a statement.
This sum is an increase over the $73.2 million allotted for the same purpose in the defense bill for the fiscal year 2022. The amount, $38 million, will be allocated by Congress in 2021. The increase is more significant than $98.4 million compared to the initial DOD budget request made by the Biden administration for 2023.
According to a report published in April 2022 by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine in April 2022, research and development funding from the Department of Defense (DOD) is significantly lower for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) than for other types of universities. Comparatively, the Department of Energy spent 1.9%, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration spent 2% of their R&D budgets on HBCUs and MSIs, respectively.
The provision in the defense bill passed by Congress aims to rectify this discrepancy by ordering the DOD to increase its engagement with ostensibly underfunded institutions and its investment in R&D per the report’s conclusions.
According to senior research associate at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense Maiya Clark’s comments to the media, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) inefficiency in using research and development funds increases when Congress dictates which R&D projects the DOD should pursue and who should perform them.
The Department of Defense informed the DCNF that it does not provide feedback on proposed laws. In his confirmation hearing, however, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin pledged to rely on civilian talent and operate under a principle of inclusiveness.
The legislation has bipartisan roots in the Senate, despite Republican lawmakers’ criticism of the DOD’s emphasis on race and ethnicity in the ranks and other arms of the sprawling defense establishment. These critics claim that the agency’s narrow focus makes it unable to address the myriad of international security threats that the United States faces today.
To help Historically Black Colleges and Universities achieve “very high research activity” or “R1” status, Democratic Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen and Republican North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis introduced the HBCU Research, Innovation, Security, and Excellence (RISE) Act back in April.
According to a Department of Education report, minority-serving institutions (MSIs) are schools where members of a specific minority group, such as Hispanics, make up at least 25% of the undergraduate student body. A Historically Black College or University (HBCU) is a specific type of Minority Serving Institution (MSI) founded before 1964 by or for black Americans.
Increased research funding for MSI/HBCUs to expand research capacity, deeper relationships between military departments and the over 400 HBCUs/MSIs, expanded data collection, and generate metrics to track progress and success. Developing “true” partnerships with the institutions were among the recommendations Congress instructed the DOD to implement from the National Academies report.