Chairman Langevin’s Opening Statement at CITI Hearing on “Innovation Opportunities and Vision for the Science and Technology Enterprise”

Feb 23, 2021 Issues: Armed Services, Cybersecurity

WASHINGTON - Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems (CITI), delivered the following opening statement at the first CITI hearing held today entitled: “Innovation Opportunities and Vision for the Science and Technology Enterprise.” Video of the Chairman’s statement and a live feed of the proceedings:

“I am pleased to welcome everyone to the first hearing of our newly established Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems (CITI). I am proud to be chairing this committee with my distinguished colleague, Ranking Member Elise Stefanik, and look forward to our continued record of bipartisan collaboration. We welcome back our returning Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee members from the 116th Congress, Representatives Rick Larsen, Ro Khanna, William Keating, Andy Kim, Chrissy Houlahan, Jason Crow, and Elissa Slotkin; and Representatives Mo Brooks and Mike Gallagher. And we welcome our new members, Representatives Seth Moulton, Veronica Escobar, and Joe Morelle; and Representatives Matt Gaetz, Mike Johnson, Stephanie Bice, Scott Franklin, Blake Moore, and Pat Fallon.

“As we enter the 117th Congress and a new administration, we are pleased to launch our oversight activities by welcoming our first witnesses to frame the Department of Defense’s current innovation landscape and what the Department should do to invest in, harness, scale, and transition the innovation, science, and technology required to ensure the U.S. military’s future edge.

“Today we welcome in their personal capacities: The Honorable Christine Fox; Dr. Victoria Coleman; and Mr. Klon Kitchen. Thank you all for joining us today.

“In a time when our national defense planning has shifted focus to great power competition, addressing the challenge from rising science powers requires an ambitious strategy of national investment and aggressive development in science and technology (S&T). Funding for basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development in our universities, laboratories, small businesses, and the tech sector plants the seeds required for our next generation military engagements. Yet even with bipartisan support for significant increases in investment in our national security innovation base, somehow growth in the science and technology budget is almost always sacrificed to field the mature technologies of today. While supporting our troops in the field is essential, we are putting our next generation of soldiers at a severe disadvantage when we fail to prepare for the battlefield of the future.

“If the U.S. is to remain a global leader in technology, we cannot simply rest on our laurels; we must actively execute a comprehensive S&T strategy to advance innovation. We must invest in STEM education, university research, and programs that develop junior talent into future tech leaders. We must also actively endeavor to diversify our S&T workforce. Indeed, a strong diversity of background and perspectives is vital for any organization that aims to foster novelty and innovation.

“On that note, we must implement policies that promote a sound economic, political, and strategic environment on U.S. soil where global collaboration, discovery, and innovation all thrive. The open dialogue and debate resident in academia and the research community can be anathema to the requirement for secrecy in the Department of Defense. But we must recognize – and embrace – how our free society provides the competitive advantage that lets us innovate faster than our great power competitors. Our free society enables a dynamic innovation ecosystem, and federally funded open basic research focused on discovery has allowed American universities to develop an innovation base that has effectively functioned as a talent acquisition program for the U.S. economy. And that talent is required today as much as ever to solve our most pressing national security challenges.

“Indeed, great power competition is also a race for talent. And we must do better. That is why last year Ranking Member Stefanik and I introduced the National Security Innovation Pathway Act. The U.S. attracts many of the world’s best minds to our universities and innovative companies, which develop their expertise. These talented people fortify our national security; protect our citizens, critical infrastructure, and interests; and they improve our economy. Today, much of that talent leaves the U.S. because there are few pathways to remain. We must retain and leverage these scientists and technologists who boost the innovation that fuels our economic and defense competitive edge.

“I would be remiss to not mention that our challenges over the horizon are rapidly changing. While the Department has historically focused on producing new hardware, we know that biothreats and pandemics can cripple economies and dock carriers, and that the wars of the future will probably be fought via software platforms with the challenge of who can push better improvements and new capability the fastest. The Department must pivot quickly to preparing us for this software-centric future, and to treating the acquisition of the Joint Strike Fighter and the sixth-generation fighters not as hardware platforms, but as flying computers wrapped in an airplane. The Department’s leaders must drag data and software from back office responsibilities and afterthoughts onto the Department’s center stage. They must enable the innovators and change agents across the enterprise, change the way the department buys and delivers software, and attract the necessary scientific and technical talent to get us there.

“We will not maintain our technological edge if we refuse to empower the Department to take risks, push scientific boundaries, challenge the red tape, attract a talented technical workforce, and protect its innovators. We must empower those who lean forward on innovation – wherever they are – to enable the technological leaps that will ensure our warfighters never enter a fair fight. I look forward to this discussion.”