Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2021

Floor Speech

Date: Aug. 7, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this amendment to raise the funding for the Department of Defense National Innovation Security Network to $40 million, and to ensure continuation of their critical Hacking for Defense program.

Hacking for Defense began as a college course created by Steve Blank at Stanford University in 2016 and has since expanded to more than 30 universities across the nation, with more added every year. This course teaches student teams to rapidly solve challenging national security problems by harnessing the lean start-up methodology developed in Silicon Valley.

Through this program, the Department of Defense and other national security partners have the opportunity to present their most pressing challenges to energetic talent within universities classrooms across the nation. U.S. military combat veterans and entrepreneurial mentors then guide students in applying cutting-edge research and problem- solving techniques to address these real-world problems. The program has led to innovations in areas such as video surveillance of working military dogs, 3-D printing spare parts for Marine field vehicles, and countering drones. To date, nine start-ups have spun-off to further develop and address solutions to these challenges.

The House Armed Services Committee report accompanying the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act noted that Hacking for Defense, ``Supports solution development directly for the warfighter, improves U.S. military readiness and stimulates growth within the National Security Innovation Base, consistent with the 2018 National Defense Strategy.'' Furthermore, the Committee noted that Hacking for Defense fosters emerging national security leaders and mission-driven entrepreneurs.

In recognition of the importance of this work, the NDAA authorized the National Security Innovation Network at $40 million. Unfortunately, the defense division of this bill in its current form only appropriates half of this funding. I helped offer this bipartisan amendment to reprogram an additional $20 million in order to match the authorization level. This will allow Hacking for Defense to continue developing solutions to national security problems, and more importantly, to continue exposing students to the national security challenges and growing the national security workforce.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and the critical Hacking for Defense program.