Increasingly the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security are looking to “other transaction authority” agreements to acquire emerging technologies.
Procurements made under OTA are exempt from many Federal Acquisition Regulation rules and are typically limited to research, prototypes and in certain cases follow-on production.
The authority dates back to the 1958 Space Act, passed in the wake of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik launch, but in recent years it has heated up as the military and DHS have tried to leverage the innovation of tech startups that haven’t typically looked to the federal market for growth.
According to contracting intelligence firm Deltek, OTA spending hit $4.3 billion in fiscal year 2018, up from $2.1 billion in 2017. Because of increased interest in OTA procurement, Deltek recently began breaking out OTA opportunities and spending as a separate category in its GovWin database.
Part of the reason for renewed interest in OTAs is the need to innovate on the defense side faster than our adversaries.
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