Status Report

AIP FYI #77: “SMART” Program to Enhance DOD’s S&T Workforce

By SpaceRef Editor
June 17, 2004
Filed under , ,

The Senate Armed Services Committee, in its FY 2005 Defense
Authorization bill (S. 2400), has proposed a program to enhance the
Defense Department’s ability to recruit and retain
technically-skilled workers. The bill would authorize $10.0 million
for a three-year pilot program to provide scholarships to U.S.
citizens in return for service to the Department.

According to the bill, the Science, Mathematics and Research for
Transformation (SMART) Defense Scholarship Pilot Program would
provide financial assistance for undergraduate or graduate
“education in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology
skills and disciplines that…are critical to the national security
functions of the Department,” in return for a period of employment
by DOD. The financial assistance would cover normal educational
expenses including tuition, fees, cost of books, laboratory
expenses, and room and board. The period of service required in
return would be at least as long as the time covered by the

Relevant language on the SMART Defense Scholarship Pilot Program
from the committee report (S. Rept. 108-260) follows; the bill and
report text can be found at

“The committee recommends a provision that would establish a pilot
program within the Department of Defense to provide targeted
educational assistance to individuals seeking a baccalaureate or an
advanced degree in science and engineering disciplines that are
critical to national security. This provision would allow
individuals to acquire such education in exchange for a period of
employment with the Department of Defense in the areas specified.
The committee recommends that the Director, Defense Research and
Engineering be designated to manage the program.

“The Committee remains concerned with the aging technical workforce
and statistics which point to a growing deficiency in the right mix
of scientists and engineers to support our national security
workforce needs. Testimony to the committee over the last few years
further emphasizes the science and engineering workforce challenge
for the Department that this section is designed to address. The
Department has implemented a series of successful programs to
increase the number of students pursuing degrees in selected fields,
but has not been as successful in recruiting and retaining
scientists and engineers for positions in its laboratories, service
components, and defense agencies.

“A rapid, well managed infusion of a new generation of defense
science and engineering personnel who are experts in the 21st
century defense-related critical skills is needed to maintain U.S.
defense technology dominance. As a means of increasing the number
of U.S. citizens trained in disciplines of science and engineering
of military importance, the committee authorizes $10.0 million to
carry out this pilot program.”

S. 2400 is still under consideration in the Senate. The House bill,
H.R. 4200, passed in May, does not include a similar provision.
Keep in mind that, even if this provision is retained in the
conference report and signed into law, it would only authorize
funding for such a program, not provide the actual money.

Audrey T. Leath

Media and Government Relations Division

The American Institute of Physics

(301) 209-3094

SpaceRef staff editor.