Welcome to the April edition of A Capitol View. This edition includes news from the firm, congressional updates on the America COMPETES Act and appropriations deadlines, and memoranda on Buy America guidance, Pentagon reorganization, and Presidential Electric Vehicle Determinations.

SMI Welcomes Maria Bowie and Bret Strogen to the Team!

Maria Bowie joined SMI’s Team as a Vice President this Month

Maria Bowie has 25 years of senior Congressional staff experience, working for two key members of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on legislation to advance national security issues and secure federal funding for projects that aligned with the nation’s policy objectives. During her time on the Hill, Maria was regarded as a leading and respected defense staffer, supporting a wide range of national security, defense, and veterans’ affairs legislation.

Prior to joining SMI, Maria served as Director of Government Affairs at Leidos, where she utilized her expertise on federal funding processes and supported cyber, IT modernization, airborne ISR platforms, and hypersonic projects. During her time on the Hill, Maria was the Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for Representative Tom Cole (OK-04) and served as Legislative Director for Representative Ken Calvert (CA-42). Prior to Representative Calvert’s office, Maria was a Manager of Legislative Affairs for BAE Systems and a Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton. She began her defense career as a Military and Veterans Affairs Liaison for former Representative Brian Bilbray’s (CA-50) San Diego office.

Maria is a Colorado native and returns home often to see family and take on mountain adventures. She also enjoys trekking and skiing in the High North. Maria looks forward to advancing the priorities of SMI’s clients using her extensive background in national security policy and the federal budgetary process.

Maria holds a Bachelor’s in International Affairs from George Washington University, a Master’s in Political Science from the University of Uppsala and will soon earn a Master’s in Defense and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.

Find Maria’s press release here and her contact information here.

Dr. Bret Strogen Joined SMI’s Team as a Director this Month

Bret Strogen is an experienced defense and federal energy, infrastructure, and sustainability strategist with expertise that spans a wide array of topics such as defense energy innovation, clean technology sustainability assessment, federal program management, and transportation and alternative fuel infrastructure.

Before joining SMI, Bret was the Director of Research for an environmental impact market intelligence and analytics firm. Before consulting, Bret served as the Special Assistant for Energy and Sustainability in support of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment, where he helped lead strategic, policy, and programmatic initiatives related to energy performance contracts, utility privatization, and operational energy. Bret also spent five years on the Operational Energy Innovation Team within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment—initially as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow and later as an on-site contractor. Bret began his career as an Environmental Project Engineer with Weston Solutions prior to pursuing his doctorate.

Outside of the office, Bret is an active council member for the National Capital Area Chapter of the U.S. Association for Energy Economics and is a long-time middle school student mentor with Higher Achievement.

Bret received his Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Delaware and his Master’s of Science and a Doctorate in Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Find Bret’s press release here and his contact information here.

SMI Participates in STAR-TIDES at GMU and the Pentagon

SMI’s Dr. Bret Strogen recently participated in the 15th Annual Sharing to Accelerate Research – Transformative Innovation for Development and Emergency Support (STAR-TIDES) Capabilities Demonstration, which took place at the George Mason University (GMU) campus and Pentagon Courtyard from April 18–22. STAR-TIDES is a global interdisciplinary knowledge-sharing network focused on developing sustainable resilience and promoting human security and is coordinated through GMU’s Center for Resilient and Sustainable Communities (C-RASC).

SMI was a bronze sponsor of the event, which featured a range of technology capabilities—with noteworthy examples described below—suited for national security challenges ranging from military special operations to disaster response and humanitarian assistance:

  • Multiple cellular and satellite communication systems that can be airdropped, trucked and hand-carried, or even transported in a backpack, to bring connectivity to remote locations
  • Portable and rugged electric power systems that enable “plug and play” flexibility to incorporate photovoltaic (solar) panels, batteries, and conventional generators
  • Modular and/or snap-in-place shelters with very high insulation and overall energy performance
  • Lightweight, easily assembled, and simple-to-maintain composting toilets to improve sanitation in any off-grid location
  • A hybrid airship concept to enable quick and energy-efficient transportation of anything from military supplies to fresh produce, without being constrained to locations with a runway

SMI is eager to see these types of technologies evaluated by, and eventually adopted by, federal agencies and other appropriate partners and customers. We stand ready to support the innovative technology developers in the STAR-TIDES ecosystem in their journey to work more closely with the federal government.

What’s Going on in Congress? | The America COMPETES Act and Appropriations Deadlines

COMPETES on the Move

With both the House of Representatives and the Senate having passed their own versions of the America COMPETES Act, members from each chamber have been named to serve on a Conference Committee – a special bicameral committee – to negotiate a compromise version of the broad legislation to increase the nation’s competitiveness with China. Some of the key provisions in the COMPETES Act include increased funding for the National Science Foundation, $50 billion in funding for the CHIPS Act to incentivize investment in facilities in the U.S. for fabrication, assembly, testing, or advanced packaging of semiconductors and to support semiconductor research and development (R&D) and $2 billion for the Defense Department for specific investments in the industry, and, in the House-version, the reauthorization of the SBIR and STTR programs.

The timetable of the Conference Committee remains unclear although both President Biden and the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate would like to enact the legislation before November’s mid-term elections.

Appropriations Committee’s Release Deadlines

The Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations cycle has transitioned from constituents filling out request forms to now members of Congress submitting their priorities to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Over the past week, House Members submitted their request lists and the deadlines for Senators to submit their priorities are spread across the month of May.

House Deadlines by Subcommittee:

  • April 27: Financial Services and General Government; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; Legislative Branch; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
  • April 28: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Defense; Homeland Security; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
  • April 29: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Senate Deadlines by Subcommittee:

  • May 5: Energy and Water Development
  • May 6: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies
  • May 10: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
  • May 12: Financial Services and General Government
  • May 13: Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
  • May 18: Department of Homeland Security
  • May 19: State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
  • May 20: Defense
  • May 25: Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
  • May 26: Legislative Branch
  • May 27: Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

SMI Participates in the National Hydropower Association’s Water Power Week

On April 5, 6, and 7, SMI’s Jeff Leahey, Damian Kunko, and Paul Gay participated in the National Hydropower Association’s (NHA) Water Power Week during the Washington, DC conference. This annual event provided an opportunity for those in the hydropower and marine energy industries to meet in the nation’s Capital to discuss the legislative, regulatory, and market policies impacting these sectors. This year, SMI organized and led the event’s Capitol Hill Day activities, arranging meetings with key committees and offices on appropriations, tax, and clean energy issues. Jeff Leahey moderated a plenary session discussion on congressional advocacy and messaging, while Damian Kunko and Paul Gay developed content for the conference’s marine energy sessions and managed NHA’s Marine Energy Council meeting. Over 450 participants from across the country attended the policy event.

Buy America? New Guidance Issued on Domestic Procurement

On April 18, Director Shalanda Young of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a memorandum addressed to the heads of executive departments and agencies regarding the issuance of new domestic content and production requirements for all projects receiving federal funding assistance. New Buy America guidance goes into effect on May 14, and it will bring strict requirements to all infrastructure-related federal projects. This announcement is the latest of the Biden administration’s historic investments in critical public utilities, resources, and infrastructure, and aligns itself with the administration’s goals to reduce reliance on foreign imports.

SMI’s Analysts have consolidated key components of the Buy America guidance, which you can explore by clicking here.

Shake-Up at the Department of Defense Industrial Policy Office

The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment’s (USD A&S) Office of Industrial Policy has gone through several key leadership changes in the past two months. Under its new name, the Office of Industrial Base Policy will now be led by an Assistant Secretary, granting more authority and jurisdiction under the Department of Defense hierarchy than the former Deputy Assistant Secretary title held by Jesse Salazar. In addition to this leadership shift, several other changes within the Office of Industrial Base Policy have occurred amongst key secretarial and directorate leadership positions.

For more information on the OIBP transitions, see the memo here.

The Unfunded Priorities of the Department of Defense

After the release of the President’s FY23 budget request, each service will submit their own list of priorities that were not included in the request that they believe Congress should reconsider when marking up and passing appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year. This year’s total ($21.22 billion) is 11.6% or $2.6 billion lower than last year’s total ($23.84 billion), suggesting that despite a notable budget request increase for Defense, the Biden administration is calling upon Congress to fund a larger proportion of each services’ priorities than last year, resulting in fewer unfunded priorities.

Presidential Determination on DPA Title III funds for Electric Vehicles

At the end of March, President Biden issued a Presidential Determination to invoke Title III of the 1950 Defense Production Act (DPA Title III) for the enhancement of the battery critical materials industrial base. Certain requirements of DPA Title III were waived within the determination in order to use the authority of DPA Title III for the extraction, processing, recycling, and reuse of critical materials used for the production of large-capacity batteries, which are critical to the transportation and energy storage industries.

For a detailed summary of the Presidential Determination, see the memo here.