If only Scully and Mulder had waited for a pandemic. Buried in the latest federal omnibus spending bill signed into law on December 27, 2020—notable for its inclusion of coronavirus relief—is a mandate that may bring UFO watchers one step closer to finding out whether the government has been watching the skies.

According to Snopes, the Office for the Director of National Intelligence has confirmed that the omnibus bill includes a 180-day window for the U.S. director of national intelligence and the secretary of defense to prepare a report for senators and armed services committees on the potential existence of UFOs and any potential they may have to pose a threat.

The data would be sourced from FBI reports as well as the Office of Naval Intelligence and the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force. The language comes from the bill’s Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.

While this sounds like it could be the smoking gun for advocates of alien visitations, the report can still include a classified annex for sensitive information.

What’s gotten the government so interested in flying saucers now? Lawmakers are concerned that the current methodology for collecting and analyzing such data is fractured and disorganized. They’d like to see a more streamlined effort to examine the information, including what’s known about such events to date.

The prospect of extraterrestrial activity gained more credibility in recent months when the Pentagon released several videos of Navy pilots filming unexplained aircraft. The Pentagon had previously set up a task force, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, to examine such incidents from 2007 to 2012. It was terminated due to a lack of funding.

Naturally, UFOs don't necessarily have to be synonymous with aliens—only sightings that aren’t easily recognized by existing forms of air transportation. One possible explanation is drone technology piloted by foreign countries for surveillance purposes. Another is malevolent aliens as seen in films like 1996’s Independence Day, a disastrous scenario we can only hope to prevent. We should know more in 180 days.