DAHLGREN, Va. – Although the pandemic has presented challenges in executing large events, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) successfully launched its first virtual Other Transaction Authority (OTA) Industry Day on Sept. 1, 2020. Key speakers highlighted the OTA’s upcoming Naval Surface Technology and Innovation Consortium Request for Prototype Projects (RPP) 2020 (NSTIC-20) and the importance of supporting the warfighter, warfighting and future fleet.
“As you may know, we deliver for our surface fleet those warfare systems that are needed to defend the nation and defeat our adversaries,” said NSWCDD Commanding Officer Captain Stephen ‘Casey’ Plew who opened the event. “That has been true for 102 years,” Plew shared, referring to the command’s 100th anniversary in 2018.
The OTA prototyping efforts allow Dahlgren to expand its reach and effectively accomplish technology transition initiatives that have direct and lasting impact on the Navy NSWCDD serves and especially the warfighters, according to William Walsh, NSWCDD NSTIC portfolio manager.
“The OTA has increased our ability to identify and communicate with and among alternative resources through working partnerships with academia, small businesses, non-traditional businesses, and other members of industry to ensure the Navy’s needs are met and satisfied,” said Walsh.
Tom Kearney, executive of the NSTIC Consortium, discussed some key elements of the NSTIC-20 RPP during the industry day, including updated communication between members and team members, enhanced proposal feedback, and the use of Statements of Need to provide ideas and concepts to the government. Kearney shared that this consortium has “created a very strong base from which the NSTIC will be able to grow tremendously.” Additionally, a new enhanced white paper model will be implemented to aid the awards process and cost screening. Currently, over 600 organizations are actively engaged with the consortium.
Chris Clark, NSTIC program manager for Advanced Technology International (ATI), noted that consortium member training and mentoring is provided, as the goal is help those not experienced with government contracting and to bridge the gap into the federal process.
Walsh expounded on the thought process of OTA goals and said, “Going back over the last year and a half, I have gleaned what I consider to be our primary operational goals and objectives for pursuing the NSTIC OTA as a contracting vehicle, as well as what we continually work towards gaining from this OTA capability.”
Through careful consideration, he developed the following goals:
- To effectively communicate and collaborate with industry, academia, non-traditional contractors, and non-profits on emerging solutions to meet current, critical mission needs and ultimately field timely solutions for the warfighter.
- To eliminate extraneous and burdensome terms and conditions associated with the traditional government procurement process.
- To demonstrate an ability to effectively and rapidly prototype advanced technology concepts via opening up industry resources to generate greater and unanticipated solutions from small and non-traditional companies, as well as academic research entities.
- To create opportunities and generate more technology transfer from private industry and universities to the government and DoD.
- To allow greater flexibility to apply commercial industry’s best business practices.
- To provide assistance in building relationships of trust and a spirit of cooperation between government and industry.
Also during the virtual event, Walsh provided a technical overview of the NSTIC-20 RPP. The benefits to the Navy include allowing consortium members to establish government contacts, as well as the identification of performance, capability and technology gaps vital to current and future naval weapon systems.
“We are looking to solicit prototype solutions that can improve performance capability; and address technology gaps specific to our area of Naval Surface Warfare advanced systems and capabilities,” said Walsh.
Collaboration and technical discussion between the government and the consortium members are highly encouraged. Virtual one-on-one meetings just prior to the industry day and RPP release were also created to provide such an opportunity. Communications is promoted from the initial development of the Statements of Need through the deadline for enhanced white paper submissions
“We have a shared objective of focusing our collective capability in delivering integrated warfare systems to the fleet and to our Marine Corps partners. The weapon systems that we are working on are those systems going into the fleet in the next five years,” said NSWCDD Technical Director John Fiore. “We certainly work on today’s Navy, and we work on the Navy after the next. The goal is to combine capabilities like integrated power, bringing new weapon systems to supplement and complementing hard kill into the hands of the war fighter.”
Plew also emphasized the importance of schedule, as “time equals capability.”
He also explained NSWCDD is helping, not only the current fleet, but also the future fleet.
“As we develop these technologies, we need to make sure they transition to the fleet fast. We’re all about supporting the warfighter and we’re fighting for that future fleet, so that’s at the forefront of our mind.”
NSWCDD Chief Technology Officer Jennifer Clift echoed both Plew and Fiore.
“Our mission is to advance our technical capabilities through investments, partnerships and collaborations, as well as education in order to foster innovation and help shape the future of naval surface warfare.”
The key investment areas mentioned align to strategic naval guidance and allow investments to be focused according to strategic naval needs. Developing partnerships with industry and collaborating across the Naval Research and Development Enterprise will be critical to advancing technical capabilities and accelerating integration of technologies into the fleet.
According to Walsh, NSWCDD will host annual OTA industry days, albeit virtual for the time being.