WASHINGTON — The Senate Armed Services Committee has developed a “paper hearings” process to execute oversight and collect data for the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To protect the health of everyone involved, traditional hearings are not possible under current conditions,” the committee announced March 25.

SASC is “committed to continuing congressional oversight and data collection necessary to drafting the NDAA,” the committee said in a statement.

The paper hearing format will involve the public posting of all witness testimony as well as the SASC Chairman and Ranking Member opening statements on the scheduled hearing date and time. The committee will collect questions from all SASC members related to the hearing topic, to be transmitted to the Department of Defense at the date and time of the scheduled hearing.

The committee intends to post member questions and witnesses’ responses within one week of posting opening statements, although that may not always be possible during the pandemic, SASC said.

“When conditions allow for a return to traditional hearings, SASC will transition back to that preferred mode. In addition, the committee is exploring other ways to continue these critical oversight functions,” said the committee.

The first hearing under this format will be a previously scheduled full committee hearing March 26 on the posture of the Department of the Army.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...