National Defense Authorization Act lowers biodefense program spending levels

The National Defense Authorization Act, recently signed into law by President Barack Obama, set lower spending levels and reflected delays in several biodefense programs.

The NDAA reduced funding for the Chemical and Biological Defense Program by five percent, from nearly $1.2 billion to $1.14 billion. In addition, a $50 million cut was made following a delay in a proposal for the Medical Countermeasures Initiative and a $24 million reduction was made to the Bioscavenger program, which was designed to develop medical countermeasures specifically for nerve agents, according to

"DoD has to commit to flexible manufacturing technologies because of the breadth of medical countermeasures we need to protect our troops and support global operations, and because of the varying numbers of doses required for each of these," Dr. Gerald W. Parker, the deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense for chemical and biological defense, said, reports.

The defense authorization bill, which was signed on New Year's Eve, includes $633 million to be used for the purchase of 100 Stryker reconnaissance vehicles outfitted to detect nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

The NDAA includes $30.4 million marked for spending on the Biological Warfare Defense Program. President Obama proposed the current funding level, which has remained unchanged since last year.

The bill increases funding for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Cooperative Biological Engagement Program by 53 percent in FY 2012. The 53 percent raise in spending on the program from FY 2011 is contingent, in part, on the program passing a review by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Until the review is conducted, only 80 percent of the funding will made be available.