OTA Offers Big Benefits…If You Know How to Use It
Other Transaction Authorities (OTA) were created to provide selected agencies the flexibility necessary to adopt and incorporate business practices reflecting commercial industry standards and best practices into its award instruments. OTA allows for rapid procurement from non-traditional contractors without FAR-based competition.
Although the provision of OTA has been around for decades, it has generally been underutilized until the last few years. Why? Only 11 federal agencies have statutory authority to use it, and, not surprisingly, there is a general lack of familiarity, outside of the Department of Defense (DOD), about its benefits and appropriate use. Let’s take a look at some specific examples.
OTA Expedites Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
A recent example of the application of the OTA provision relates to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which addresses the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on the nation. Among the CARES Act’s many provisions is a gateway for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to issue a broad agency announcement by which OTAs can facilitate partnerships with private sector companies for research and development during this public health emergency.
In this case, OTA has provided a way to accelerate efforts to support the manufacturing, production, and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and small molecule active pharmaceutical ingredients related to COVID-19.
GAO Reports Increased Use of OTA in DOD Prototype Projects
A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that the DOD has successfully used the flexibility offered by OTAs to entice innovative companies that had not traditionally done business with DOD to participate in prototype projects. Although there were a couple of awards that should have had higher levels of review before award, the overall results of this practice appear to be positive. Internal controls will be adjusted accordingly to ensure the continued success of this application of the OTA provision.
These are just a couple of recent examples that provide a glimpse into the benefits OTAs can offer. How much do you know about the advantages OTAs offer or how they can be used? Here are some fast facts:
- Are only available to the following federal agencies: ARPA-E, DHS, DNDO, DOD, DOE, DOT, FAA, HHS, NASA, NIH, and TSA
- Are ideal for DOD’s continuous need to expedite R&D projects related to keeping pace with potential adversaries
- Are increasingly being used by DOD for prototype projects
- Allow awards to be made to consortia, partnerships, and unique structures
- Come with funding flexibility. They may be fully funded by the government, jointly funded by the government and non-government parties, funded entirely by third parties, or unfunded.
- Allow agencies to guide competition and fairness without being subject to Competition in Contracting Act (CICA) compliance
- Diminish opportunities for protests
- Can sometimes be awarded more quickly than other methods and thereby accelerate project completion
- Open the door for commercial businesses to participate in federal innovations in science, technology, prototyping, and systems development with flexible terms for intellectual property and other concerns
- Can be used in many ways, such as acquisition, financial assistance, technology transfer, and fund Research Development Test & Evaluation (RDT&E).
- Provide a pathway for contractors to apply commercial practices for the benefit of government
- Allow decision-makers to focus primarily on achieving goals instead of price
- Release requirement limitations that restrict solution development in other circumstances
While this list reveals many of the benefits offered by Other Transaction Authority, it does not provide the comprehensive understanding needed to use it. Lucky for you, we offer a class that does.
Are there any other topics you would like to see covered on our blog? We’d love to hear from you.
Natalie Komitsky is the Content Marketing Manager at Management Concepts. For more than ten years, she has been creating compelling content that tells stories, communicates ideas, and captivates readers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Nonfiction Writing, and Editing from George Mason University.