Compromise Reached on FY 07 Defense Approps; Cognitive Computing Suffers Cut
Last night, the House overwhelming approved a compromise version (pdf) of the FY 2007 Defense Appropriations bill after House and Senate negotiators agreed last Friday to mitigate some of the significant cuts in the Senate version. As we’ve noted previously, a key area of concern for the computing research community was the large cut by the Senate to DARPA’s Cognitive Computing program, particularly their $60 million cut to “Integrated Cognitive Systems” account. As we pointed out then, the cuts to the ICS account run counter to the recent concerns of Congress, PITAC, and DOD Defense Science Board, who all have raised strong concerns about the shift of DARPA resources away from fundamental research at universities, especially in information technology. The Cognitive Computing program is one area where DARPA has responded positively to those concerns.
While the community attempted to resist the cuts, the compromise version of the bill still contains a $30 million reduction from the President’s requested level for Integrated Cognitive Systems for FY 2007 — part of a $159 million reduction to DARPA’s overall requested budget. While these cuts to the requested budget are not good, they are a marked improvement from the Senate numbers, which included a $433 million cut to DARPA’s requested budget. Fortunately, even with the cut to its requested budget, Cognitive Computing will still see an increase over its FY 06 estimated level (about 10.6 percent).
The Senate had also approved a $14 million cut to the requested budget for the Information and Communications Technology line. That cut was mitigated to $8 million in the conference report ($3.9 million from the Responsive Computing Architectures account, $1 million from Security-Aware Systems, and $3 million from the Automated Speech and Text Exploitation in Multiple Languages account).
Overall, 6.1 (Basic) research at DOD fared pretty well (5.6 percent increase over FY 06) and 6.2 (Applied) overall did OK, too (2.2 percent increase). 6.1 “Defense-wide” (DARPA and OSD, basically) went up 14.8 percent, and 6.2 “Defense-wide” went up about 3.5 percent.
The folks at the Coalition for National Security Research have put together a handy little chart of the various DOD R&D accounts in the bill (thanks to Jason Van Wey of MIT). You can get it here (pdf).
Senate approval of the conference bill is expected today and the President is expected to sign the bill. When signed, the bill will represent the only one of the 13 annual appropriations bills necessary to fund the operations of government that Congress will have completed before the start of the new fiscal year October 1st. Congress also hopes to complete work on the FY 07 Homeland Security Appropriations bill before it recesses at the end of the week (so that members can return to their states/districts in time for last-minute campaigning before the November elections), but it’s not clear whether that will happen. We’ll have further details on the Homeland Security bill conference as soon as they become available….