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WASHINGTON – At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, spoke with a panel of industry experts about reforming the process for Department of Defense (DoD) contract disputes. The panel included former CEO of Google Dr. Eric E. Schmidt, President of Microsoft Brad Smith, and General (ret.) Herbert Carlisle, a former four-star general in the Air Force.

“That is a problem. You’ve all talked about the delays that lead to delays,” said Senator Cramer. “Protest reforms seem to be one of those areas we can do a little better while still protecting everybody.”

Mr. Smith and Gen. Carlisle agreed with Senator Cramer that speed in delivering technology is important and improvements to the process can be made without weakening the ability to dispute an awarded contract.  

“The best way for the Defense Department to move faster,” responded Mr. Smith, “is to use commercial technology, add security layers as we have done with the DoD and the intelligence community for secret and top secret workloads, and then create adaptations. It is so important to move quickly.”

“There is no disincentive to protest,” noted Gen. Carlisle, who argued the process should be played out “fairly, but at the same time, don’t disadvantage the person that’s waiting for the equipment while you’re waiting for the protest to be resolved.”

Senator Cramer also questioned the panelists on the importance of high-skilled workers and their contributions to the creation and utilization of these emerging technologies.

“We have so blown the opportunity to maximize the incredible high-skilled immigrants who have come to this country,” said Senator Cramer. “The backlog of green cards is immoral to me. I have been trying to get rid of the per-country caps for a long time because it punishes particular countries that have a lot more to offer us. But it also opens up another security risk … I’m looking for a lane in this next Congress to finally get something over the top as it relates to the backlog of green cards and high skilled immigrants.”

Dr. Schmidt agreed with Senator Cramer about the economic benefits of and the immediate need for high-skilled immigrants to support the United States’ efforts in the development of emerging technologies while ensuring proper national security protocols are maintained. Senator Cramer has been a strong supporter of the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, which lifts the per-country caps on high-skilled immigrants and includes safeguards to protect American workers. Learn more here.

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