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Summary of AI Provisions from the National Defense Authorization Act 2022

On December 27, 2021, President Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 into law. The NDAA is an annual bill that Congress passes specifying the budget, expenditures, and policies of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Similar to previous NDAAs, the 2022 version contains a number of provisions directly relevant to artificial intelligence (AI). We identified and described the provisions related to AI and other activities or technologies that could impact U.S. advancement of AI in this 2,165-page bill.

Capitol building photo

Improvements Relating to National Network for Microelectronics Research and Development (Title II, Sec. 217)

This provision requires the secretary of defense to establish a national network for microelectronics research and development. The network will include two or more entities, which the secretary will select, to facilitate cost-effective discovery of new materials, devices, and architectures to safeguard domestic intellectual property. The network will also accelerate the transition of new technologies to domestic microelectronics manufacturers.

Review of Artificial Intelligence Applications and Establishment of Performance Metrics (Title II, Sec. 226)

Within 180 days of the enactment of the NDAA, the secretary of defense will identify objectives for the incorporation of AI applications into the platforms, processes, and operations of the DOD. The secretary of each military department and the heads of other relevant departments will create performance metrics to achieve those objectives. Performance objectives and metrics will be set for skill gaps of civilian and military personnel; AI modernization investments; exercises, war games, and experimentation; logistics and sustainment; and business applications within defense functions such as human resources, real estate, and healthcare. The secretary of defense will submit a report on performance objectives and metrics to Congress no later than 120 days after the completion of the review.

Modification of the Joint Common Foundation Program (Title II, Sec. 227)

This provision requires the secretary of defense to modify the Joint Common Foundation program conducted by the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) to allow DOD components to contract more easily with leading AI companies. These simplified acquisitions will support the rapid development of AI applications and capabilities. This includes improving access of eligible commercial AI companies to federal contracts, such as the use of specific federal acquisition processes that encourage market solutions.

Executive Education on Emerging Technologies for Senior Civilian and Military Leaders (Title II, Sec. 228)

This provision requires the DOD to establish executive education activities on emerging technologies for officers and senior executive-level civilian leaders. The training will prepare DOD leaders on relevant technologies and how they may be applied to military and business activities of the DOD. The program will be implemented within two years of NDAA enactment, and within five years, the program will be mandatory for all general flag officers and senior executive-level civilian leaders.

Pilot Program on Data Repositories to Facilitate the Development of Artificial Intelligence Capabilities for the Department of Defense (Title II, Sec. 232)

This provision authorizes the secretary of defense to evaluate the feasibility and advisability of creating DOD data repositories, available to public and private entities, to facilitate the development of AI capabilities. Within 270 days of the enactment of the NDAA, DOD will submit a report to Congress recommending whether to proceed with creating a pilot program for this purpose. The provision requires that the repositories contain training quality datasets composed of unclassified data.

Reports and Briefings on Recommendations of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Regarding the Department of Defense (Title II, Sec. 247)

This provision requires the secretary of defense to provide written reports and briefings to congressional defense committees detailing the DOD’s response to the recommendations in the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) final report. The reports should articulate whether the DOD intends to implement each NSCAI recommendation and include a plan for implementation or a justification for why implementation is not advisable or feasible. The briefings should include DOD’s progress in analyzing and implementing the NSCAI recommendations, the programs, projects, activities to advance the recommendations and the funding to do so. The secretary of defense will provide at least one briefing and report to Congress each year for fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

United States Naval Community College (Title V, Sec. 557)

This provision formally establishes the United States Naval Community College, one primary function of which is to provide programs in academic and technical fields relevant to the current and future needs of the Navy and Marine Corps, such as cybersecurity, AI, machine learning, cybersecurity, data science, and software engineering.

Pilot Program on Acquisition Practices for Emerging Technologies (Title VIII, Sec. 833)

Within 180 days, the DOD will establish a pilot program to develop and implement unique acquisition mechanisms for emerging technologies. The acquisitions will support high-priority projects including offensive missile capabilities, space-based assets, or energy generation and storage. The provision also requires the DOD to develop unique acquisition plans that are significantly novel from standard Department practices. To support the administration of this pilot program, an advisory committee will be created within 30 days after the pilot program is established. The advisory committee will consist of appointees from each military department and relevant offices.

Modifications to Printed Circuit Board Acquisitions Restrictions (Title VIII, Sec. 851)

This provision amends a section of the 2021 NDAA to delay the implementation date of acquisition restrictions on printed circuit boards from North Korea, China, Russia, or Iran from January 2023 to January 1, 2027. The amendment also includes additional definitions for key terms and rule-making provisions that allow for exceptions to this acquisition requirement for certain commercial products or services.

Occupational Series for Digital Career Fields (Title XI, Sec. 1118)

Within 270 days of the enactment of the NDAA, the director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will establish or update one or more occupational series—job categories in the federal government—covering positions in the fields of software development, software engineering, data science, and data management.

Comparative Analyses and Reports on Efforts by the United States and the People’s Republic of China to Advance Critical Modernization Technology with Respect to Military Applications (Title XII, Sec. 1251)

This provision sets aside resources for the DOD to perform comparative analyses of the United States and China’s efforts to develop and deploy critical modernization technologies with respect to military applications in directed energy systems, hypersonics, emerging biotechnologies, quantum science, and cyberspace capabilities.

Assessment of Cyber Posture and Operational Assumptions and Development of Targeting Strategies and Supporting Capabilities (Title XV, Sec. 1509)

This provision requires the commander of U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and other senior defense officials to conduct an assessment of the current and emerging offensive and defensive cyber posture of U.S. adversaries within a year of the enactment of the NDAA. The assessment will include the potential impact of emerging technologies, such as AI, 5G, and the expanded use of cloud information technology services.

Comparative Analysis of Cybersecurity Capabilities (Title XV, Sec. 1511)

This provision requires the director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to conduct a comparative analysis of the cybersecurity tools, applications, and capabilities offered as options on enterprise software agreements for cloud-based productivity and collaboration suites. This analysis includes a review of the AI and machine learning capabilities associated with these tools, applications, and capabilities. Within 30 days of completion of the analysis, congressional defense committees should receive a briefing that includes recommendations for legislative or administrative action.

Digital Development Infrastructure Plan and Working Group (Title XV, Sec. 1531)

This provision requires the creation of a digital development infrastructure plan and working group to establish a modern information technology infrastructure. This infrastructure should support state-of-the-art tools and modern processes to enable the development and testing of AI capabilities. The plan will contain a government structure, guidance for necessary technical investments, and examples of prototypical development and platform environments. The plan will also include a consolidated description of the requirements necessary to implement several DOD documents, including the Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence Data Initiative.

The secretary of defense will select representatives from at least 10 DOD offices, including the JAIC, to be part of the working group that will develop the infrastructure plan. In creating the plan, the working group will also consult with experts outside of the DOD. The working group will be established within 60 days of the enactment of the NDAA and will deliver a report to Congress within 180 days of the enactment.

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