DoD Making More Use of OTAs to Buy ‘Innovative’ Tech

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The Department of Defense (DoD) has increased its use of Other Transactional Authorities (OTAs) to bring prototypes into the department, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released November 22.

With OTAs not subject to some of the normal regulations on Federal acquisitions, DoD’s components spent $3.7 billion on 618 prototypes in fiscal year 2018, an increase over its totals from previous fiscal years.

“Other transactions enable DOD and companies to negotiate terms and conditions specific to a project without requiring them to comply with most Federal regulations that apply to government procurement contracts. This flexibility can also help DOD address non-traditional companies’ concerns about establishing a government-unique cost accounting system or intellectual property rights, among other concerns,” GAO said.

GAO found that DoD is encouraging the use of OTAs to bring in “innovative technology,” and the Army, Air Force, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have taken the lead in adopting OTAs, accounting for 97 percent of all new awards from Fiscal Years 2016 to 2018. In 88 percent of cases, the prototypes brought in at least one non-traditional company or nonprofit research institution, and consortiums of organizations made up a large portion of the OTA spend.

GAO found that DoD officials followed set procedures, and while some surveyed transactions were incomplete, no issues were identified and no recommendations were made.

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