The House of Representatives passed its version of the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) last week.  The headline story was the remarkably close, party-line vote: in contrast to past years, the bill received no Republican votes, and eight Democratic Members voted against it.

Those partisan dynamics obscured the inclusion of two important amendments – one Republican and one Democratic – regarding bid protest policy that the House quietly adopted in its bill.  The provisions are not yet law, since the House and Senate must still resolve differences in their respective NDAAs through the conference process.  In this post, we summarize these provisions and encourage government contractors to watch them closely in the coming months.
Continue Reading House and Senate Will Debate Bid Protest Policy

The Department of Defense (“DoD” or “the Department”) released its annual report to Congress on the Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) on May 2, 2019. This annual report details DoD’s assessment of Chinese security strategy and military strategy over the next 20 years, with a particular focus on China’s future course of military-technological developments. The Secretary of Defense sends both a classified and unclassified version of the report to Congress each year to fulfill the requirements of Section 1202 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2000, as amended by Section 1260 of the NDAA for FY 2019. Notably, the 2019 amendments refined the scope of the reporting requirements to include elements regarding emerging efforts by the PRC on espionage, technology transfer, economic pressure, political coercion, information operations, and predatory lending under its Belt and Road initiative.

The report highlights significant strategic challenges presented by Chinese foreign and military policy.  Its tone underscores sharp differences with several recent policy decisions and comments that take a more accommodating view of Chinese policy.  The UK defense minister, for example, was recently ousted over a leak concerning Britain’s proposed decision to allow Huawei to participate in certain parts of its 5G network.  The DoD report, by contrast, describes serious threats from China’s coercive military-civilian strategy.  China is taking major steps to modernize its military capabilities and can force cooperation under its laws from all potential sources of innovation within its borders.

Industry leaders in the United States should take note of this approach.  As they engage with U.S. government leaders and policy makers, it will be important to look for ways to continue building on key innovation efforts in the United States, and with allies and partners, to harness dual-use emerging technologies for future capabilities. The report also makes clear that cybersecurity and counter-espionage protocols will be key to thwarting efforts of the Chinese government – acting either through governmental agencies or through Chinese companies – to gain insight into the military and industrial capabilities of the United States.
Continue Reading Department of Defense Releases Annual Report to Congress on the Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China

The Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony last week from Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Marine General Joe Dunford (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), and Air Force General John Hyten (Commander of U.S. Strategic Command and the presumptive next Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs).

The witnesses presented unified support for the creation of the Space Force. Secretary Wilson, notably, voiced support for the proposal, which would put the new Space Force under the Air Force.  That structure mimics the design of the Marine Corps and the Department of the Navy; Wilson acknowledged that she had previously been critical of proposals that would establish a new independent department for space.  From the perspective of continuity, the key testimony came from General Hyten; both Wilson and Dunford are lame ducks, and Shanahan’s nomination for Secretary remains uncertain.  Many of the Senators voiced concerns about the fundamental need for a Space Force and the significant bureaucratic expansion contemplated by the proposal.

It was clear from the hearing that the Administration and the Department still have much to do to market this Space Force proposal to the Congress.  Given the reactions so far, it is extremely unlikely to be included as written in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. While Congress continues to debate the proposal, now is the window to engage with the congressional defense committees with comments on the proposal and suggestions for how to modify it.
Continue Reading Senators Question the Administration’s Space Force Proposal