Washington, D.C. – Congress permanently authorized a Department of Defense program to acquire innovative technologies produced by small businesses.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act Dec. 8, following approval by the House one week earlier. The $619 billion measure now awaits President Barack Obama’s signature.

The bill would permanently authorize the Defense Department’s Rapid Innovation Program. The program was first created in 2011 to provide a collaborative vehicle for small businesses to provide the department with innovative technologies that can be rapidly inserted into acquisition programs that meet specific defense needs.

“The committee is encouraged that the military services and other defense entities participating in the program have practices and tools in place to manage and monitor the execution of projects,” the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote in the NDAA’s report on the program.

The program is managed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and the Office of Small Business Programs. The components plan to finish evaluating proposals for fiscal year 2016 contracts later this month and make awards by May 1, 2017. The Senate Armed Services Committee commended the Defense Department for establishing a competitive, merit-based process to select contractors.

The permanent authorization comes as a federal defense policy advisory committee has also recommended that President Donald Trump’s Defense Department undertake new initiatives to acquisition and innovation capacity throughout the department.

Featured image courtesy of Concur.