FY 2020 Fourth Estate Investment in Artificial Intelligence

Published: April 03, 2019

Federal Market AnalysisBig DataBudgetDEFENSEDARPADISADTRAInformation TechnologyResearch and DevelopmentUSSOCOM

Defense agencies join the trend toward rising AI-related budget requests.

Support agencies across the Department of Defense are putting money where it counts when it comes to funding projects leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning. Analysis of the DOD’s Research, Development, Test, and Enhancement (RDT&E) and Procurement budget requests for FY 2020 reveals that 4th Estate agencies have requested nearly $2.4B for programs with an artificial intelligence or machine learning component. Increasingly, funding for AI is spread across a wider array of agencies at the DOD. Neither the Defense Security Service nor the Chemical and Biological Defense Program, for example, requested funding related to AI in fiscal 2018 or 2019. For fiscal 2020, however, they  requested $2.4M and $3.5M, respectively, illustrating the growing viability of the technology and the interest in it developing across the DOD.

AI and Machine Learning in the Defense-Wide FY 2018-2020 R&D Budget

Funding requests at many of the Defense Agencies for programs leveraging AI and machine learning technology is ramping up. In FY 2018, Defense Agencies requested related budgets totaling $1.6B, a figure that grew 119% in the FY 2020 request to $3.5B.   

Top 5 Defense Agencies by AI/ML in the FY 2020 Budget Request

Given that much of DOD’s AI-related work remains in the R&D phase it comes as no surprise to see the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) come in at the top of the requested budgets. DARPA is of course DOD’s premier R&D organization while OSD funds all kinds of research under the auspices of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. In turn, the USD R&E seeds programs across the defense research establishment, including the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). The Defense Information Systems Agency’s requested funding for AI/ML, meanwhile, grew the most in FY 2020, rising more than 500% over the total requested in FY 2018 thanks to the addition of the Joint AI Center to its responsibilities. 

Here are the largest AI-related programs by requested budget at each of the top five 4th Estate agencies.

DARPA Artificial Intelligence and Human-Machine Symbiosis ($161M): This project develops technologies that enable machines to function as trusted partners for human operators. Of particular interest are systems that can understand human speech and extract information contained in diverse media.

OSD Algorithmic Warfare Cross Functional Teams ($221.2): This program funds Project Maven, DOD’s rapid AI fielding program to augment and automate Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination (PED) for Full Motion Video (FMV), Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (TUAVs), Medium Altitude, High Altitude, and Wide Area Motion Imagery (WAMI) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). Project Maven is DOD’s pathfinder AI initiative.

DTRA Counter Improvised-Threat Demonstration, Prototype Development, and Testing ($104M): This project delivers counter-threat solutions to U.S. Joint Forces supporting contingency operations and deployed forces. FY 2020 funding supports the development of autonomous unmanned vehicles countering adversary improvised threats.

DISA Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) ($209M): Established to preserve and expand U.S. military advantage in support of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, the JAIC is intended to accelerate the delivery of AI enabled capabilities, to scale-up the department-wide impact of AI, and to synchronize DOD’s AI activities for the Joint Force.

US SOCOM AC/MC-130J/Integrated Tactical Mission Systems (ITMS) ($29M): The ITMS lightens aircrew workloads by merging Special Operation Forces mission system data with aircraft flight information controls. Capabilities include, but are not limited to, automated route re-planning, tactical flight management, integrated aircraft defensive systems, defensive countermeasures, and embedded training. FY 2020 funding will continue the automation of the TMS, including the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

For detailed information on federal AI investment see Deltek FMA’s new Federal Artificial Intelligence Landscape, 2020 report.