Portman’s Bipartisan, Bicameral Effort to Establish Military Workforce of Digital Engineers Ready to be Signed Into Law

December 17, 2019 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), along with U.S. Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Mark Meadows (R-NC), are applauding the final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report that included key provisions of the Armed Forces Digital Advantage Act (S. 1471), a bill they introduced to modernize the Department of Defense (DoD) workforce by adding a recruitment focus and establishing military career tracks for individuals with digital expertise and software development skills.

The NDAA incorporated important provisions taken from the Armed Forces Digital Advantage Act that recognize the importance of individuals with aptitude and experience in digital expertise and software development to the armed services, and requires the Secretary of Defense to devise an implementation plan to recruit and develop digital engineering specialists. The bill also requires the Secretary of Defense to create a digital engineering capability for the development and deployment of acquisition programs and software support. The bill also requires a demonstration of digital engineering capabilities and policy guidance to promote the use of said capabilities.

"Computer science and digital engineering competency have become increasingly important for the success of the American warfighter," said Portman, co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus. "This bipartisan legislation ensures we prioritize servicemembers with digital skills and expertise and put them in roles where they can best put those unique skills to work."

"Senior defense leaders and cybersecurity experts have repeatedly emphasized the need for a military workforce with a digital engineering skillset," said Heinrich, co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Whether it is Artificial Intelligence, 5G telecommunications services, or cloud computing - developing digital technologies are presenting new opportunities, but additional challenges for the Department of Defense. The inclusion of these provisions means that we will help prepare America’s defense arsenal with a capable, trained cyber workforce."

“Recruiting and retaining technical talent at the Department of Defense is a crucial national security priority as we prepare for the threats of tomorrow,” said Houlahan. “As an engineer who worked on anti-ballistic missile defense in the Air Force, I know just how acute our need for people with technical expertise is. That’s why I’m proud to have passed this bipartisan and bicameral legislation that will help build a more robust tech talent force at DOD. I look forward to the President signing this bill.”

To read Sections 230 and 231 of S. 1790 that incorporated key portions of the Armed Forces Digital Advantage Act provisions included in the FY 2020 NDAA, click HERE.