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NEWS | July 19, 2023

NSWC Dahlgren Division reaches $1 Billion in OTA awards for fiscal 2019-2023

By Jennifer Erickson, NSWCDD Corporate Communications Division

On July 11, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) reached $1 billion in total Other Transactional Authority (OTA) awards for fiscal 2019-2023, a milestone that demonstrates the importance of this contracting vehicle.

An OTA allows for NSWCDD to “quickly prototype technology and innovative solutions for transition to the warfighter,” said Chris Clifford, the division’s business director.

OTAs are binding agreements between the DoD and industry partners that offer greater flexibility than traditional Federal Acquisition Regulation-based contracts and allow for rapid acquisition and development of prototype technologies to meet DoD requirements, according to Cindy Montrief, NSWCDD OTA Program lead.

“Faced with the compounding problem of needing to accelerate weapon systems development, increase flight testing complexity and cadence and modernize range test and evaluation assets, the DoD has begun to increasingly rely on the utility, timeliness and flexibility of Other Transaction Authority (OTA) contracts,” Montrief said.

Whereas traditional acquisitions with FAR-based contracts can take years to contract, OTAs can often be executed within a few months, according to Montrief.  Additionally, with the Naval Surface Technology and Innovation Consortium (NSTIC) OTA, any prototype developed thereunder can subsequently move to production without further competition. 

NSWCDD stood up its OTA in 2019.

The OTA has 22 technology areas that allow for supporting cyber requirements, big data analytics and artificial intelligence requirements, unmanned systems, e-cubed requirements (electromagnetic environmental effects and spectrum). A variety of potential research and development requirements can be satisfied with the OTA, NSWCDD Chief of Contracting Melisha McAuliffe said.

NSWCDD’s NSTIC OTA is comprised 956 members representing 46 states.

The members compete for traditional, non-traditional and academic contracts. Traditional are the contractors who are doing business with the DoD already and non-traditional are small businesses that traditionally do not hold DoD contracts.

Non-traditional contractors make up about 80 percent of the NSTIC, according to Clifford.

The benefit of the consortium is members have full access to technical area managers to ask questions and have dialogue. The division has 46 active awards and closed 16, according to Montrief, who provided highlights of NSWCDD projects that have enabled a quicker solution to be transitions to our workforce for test and evaluation or directly to the warfighter under the OTA.

A 90-day turn from Request for Prototype Proposal to contract award enabled the Conventional Prompt Strike hypersonic development program to provide technologies to support critical flight test activities. The contract is with a non-traditional defense contractor. A team built, tested and fielded the prototype system within 18 months.

NSWCDD needed to develop flexible simulation capabilities for testing U.S. Navy maritime autonomy solutions under a wide range of potential scenarios so it turned to the NSTIC OTA. Under the OTA, it awarded researchers at the Virginia Institute of Spaceflight & Autonomy, a business unit within the Old Dominion University Virginia, Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, the two-year project.

The OTA “increases the reach for innovative ideas,” Clifford said. “The uptick and use of it, the growth over the last two years, has been eye opening.”

“It’s very popular with our sponsors who are looking to decrease timelines for getting innovative solutions and prototypes to our toughest problems,” he added.