OTAs Are Heating Up in the DOD

Mark Wisinger_100x135By Mark Wisinger, senior analyst

Every program manager and acquisition professional in DOD has been leveraging the newest buzzword: OTA, which stands for Other Transaction Authority. OTAs have been in the acquisition arsenal for years, but Congress just recently relaxed rules and restrictions on their use, paving the way for OTAs to be the new hot method for rapid technology insertion and piloting. The Office of the Undersecretary of Acquisition and Sustainment recently has been working on an OTA handbook to help guide DOD acquisition professionals on the do’s and don’ts of this newly revitalized procurement method. It’s no surprise we’re starting to see the use of more and more OTAs.

According to Bloomberg Government, DOD accounted for $2.1B of $2.3B spent through OTAs in 2017. The Army has been a leader in DOD driving most of the OTA usage increases to date, concentrated in the Army Materiel Command, although the Army Cyber Command’s use of OTAs is growing. The Defensive Cyber Operations office, within Army’s PEO EIS is setting up a new OTA vehicle known as C-RAPID, which will be targeting rapid piloting and insertion of defensive cyber tools. Companies that sign on to the consortium will field between 6 and 24 Army technology requests a year for defensive cyber tools.

The Navy, previously the most reluctant to utilize OTAs, recently established their own new OTA vehicle headed up out of SPAWAR – the Information Warfare Research Project. The IWRP is a $100M vehicle targeting innovative technologies like cloud, autonomy technology, IoT, analytics and cyber warfare capabilities that leverage OTAs – allowing SPAWAR to rapidly field innovative technology for its partners across the department. The Navy is taking a page from the Army’s book because OTAs are working. The fact that even the reluctant Navy is pushing in its chips for OTAs is a great sign that the tide is turning in favor of employing Other Transaction Authority more regularly.

The champion in DOD for OTAs has been the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, or DIUx, recently designated a permanent DOD entity. Leaving aside the “experimental” moniker, the DIU itself has also been a major user of OTAs and continues to evangelize the effectiveness of the method to the more agile corners of the department.

With enthusiasm from Congress, DIU’s permanent establishment and increasing use in the department, OTAs are becoming less and less an acquisition fad and more and more a key method to doing business rapidly with the DOD, especially with bleeding edge technology.


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One Response to OTAs Are Heating Up in the DOD

  1. Pingback: OTAs Are Heating Up in the DOD | Government Sales Insider - Government Aggregator

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