he Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is one of 12 companies awarded access to the new Defense Systems Technical Area Tasks (DS TATs) contract vehicle.
Having established its reputation as a world leader in sensors, radar and electronic systems, information management and security, and robotics, GTRI leveraged its position within the Georgia Institute of Technology and its collaboration with other academic institutions to win the contract. The contract was awarded by the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC), a part of the Department of Defense (DoD).
“Contract vehicles are very important for military contractors in general and GTRI in particular,” said Rod Beard, GTRI researcher and director of the DS TATs. “We could have the greatest ideas in the world for a government office, but if we don’t have a way for them to reach us through a contract vehicle, it could be too time-consuming for the complete procurement process.”
GTRI leadership made the decision to pursue DS TATs in 2011, realizing that the Sensing Information Analysis Center (SENSIAC) vehicle would expire in 2014. DTIC’s prior responsibility for SENSIAC under its mandate was to provide science and technical information to U.S. government customers. Because of GTRI’s and Georgia Tech’s specialty in sensors and radar, SENSIAC was located in and managed by GTRI. Researchers and scientists managed these basic core operations of SENSIAC.
DTIC divided the 10 existing information analysis centers — grouping subject matter based on research similarities — into three. The technical area tasks (TATs) or contract vehicles were separated among the new branches. Now, the DS-TATs scope is the same as that of the Defense Systems Information Analysis Center. The other two are the Cyber Security and Information Analysis Center (CSIAC) and the Homeland Defense & Security Information Analysis Center (HDIAC).
DTIC, which reports to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASDRE), established DS TATs in June 2014. The vehicle has a $3 billion ceiling and is established as a 5-year, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ), multiple-award contract for research and analysis services.
According to Beard, it should take about six or seven months to begin procuring contract awards through the vehicle. He currently is in the process of informing GTRI’s researchers of the new vehicle, and then will meet with customers who funded GTRI through SENSIAC, informing them of the new process with DS TATs.
Contractors awarded use of this vehicle will compete to perform various customer-funded task orders (TATs) for studies and complex analyses, as well as engineering and technical services that generate scientific and technical information within the Defense Systems scope areas.
Focus areas for this contract vehicle include the following:
- reliability, maintainability, quality, supportability and interoperability
- military sensing
- advanced materials
- weapon systems
- autonomous systems
- directed energy
- non-lethal weapons and information operations
Through its relationship to Georgia Tech and collaboration with academic partners from across the nation, GTRI will be able to not only utilize its specialties—sensors, autonomous systems, sustainability of legacy aircraft and research on protecting our warfighters — but also allow the consortium of academic partners to demonstrate their strengths.
Collaborators include the University of Southern California, California Technical Institute, New Mexico Tech, Utah State University, Purdue University, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, Notre Dame, Pennsylvania State University, Vanderbilt University, University of North Carolina Charlotte and Florida International University. In addition, GTRI recruited several industry and small business partners, as 9 percent of the work done in the first year must be designated to small businesses.
“In addition to providing access to a contract vehicle, the partnerships will give us an opportunity to diversify,” Beard said. “To assist with this, we have secured several academic partners, which will open the door to projects that neither GTRI nor some of our partners would have contemplated before.”
For example, GTRI conducts legacy aircraft sustainment. “We take legacy technology in military aircraft, and update the avionic systems with current generation processors and memory to enable replacement of this out-of-date equipment,” Beard said. “Purdue is prominent in the automotive industry, which is something we don’t do. We could possibly move into tank and truck sustainment through our partnerships.”
A few of these institutions already were partners through SENSIAC, Beard said. Utah State’s Space Dynamic Lab, for example, can simulate the environment of space, which aids in the testing of sensors and other items bound for the skies.
“I’m pleased that we have been awarded this opportunity,” said Robert T. McGrath, senior vice president of the Georgia Institute of Technology and director of GTRI. “I am confident that the comprehensive capabilities represented across the impressive team assembled will very ably serve the future needs of our Department of Defense sponsors.”
The multiple-award contracts were competitively procured by full and open competition along with a partial small business set-aside via the Federal Business Opportunities website. The Air Force Installation Contracting Agency, Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, is the contracting agency.