Acquisition

DISA embraces OTAs

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Congress tried to give the Department of Defense more acquisition versatility in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act by updating the provision that gives DOD the ability to develop prototypes and do experimental research through other transaction authorities.

Other transaction authorities or OTAs are a regulatory workaround to the traditional acquisition process and allow smaller companies to work with the government without having to adhere to the typical procurement requirements.

Using OTAs allow defense agencies to develop prototype projects that can improve mission effectiveness, platforms, and systems. And the Defense Information Systems Agency wants to use them in hopes of building a future without passwords, common access cards, and car keys.

"OTA is a mechanism that forces us and allows us to have that conversation differently," with traditional DOD industry partners and up-and-coming companies at the table, Terry Carpenter, DISA's acting service development executive and program executive officer, said in an interview on the sidelines of a Nov. 14 FedScoop event. "It helps us to train our people that it's ok to have these kinds of conversations under this construct of the OTA."

Currently DISA is leveraging OTA on projects ranging from authentication and spectrum management to mobile endpoint security and identity.

Carpenter wouldn't elaborate on specifics, but said he was in the middle of source selection for an OTA for the command and control application and hopes to "move out with the first OTA work to set up the framework for the next generation application for warfighting in the C2 area" in the first quarter of 2018.

"It's an interesting time," he said. "I think the convergence of technology where now application developers have to understand better what's going on with virtualization, with software defined networking, with security. There's more dialogue that's going to occur across the different specialties of IT. And I think OTA is just a way to help change the dialogue both internally and externally as we sit down together."

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at lwilliams@fcw.com, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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