The Magic of Other Transaction Authorities

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By Stew Magnuson

3/30/2108

Space and Missile Systems Center’s Maj. Steven Pugh arrived at an industry conference held at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency recently to talk about the big pot of money he has to spend — $100 million over the next five years to be precise — on anything that could help the Air Force improve its spacecraft, launch or ground systems.

And the best thing about it is that contractors, academics, or whoever comes forth to compete for this money can ignore the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the dreaded FAR, and do an end run around its notorious red tape.

Those with good ideas can take the Air Force money — as long as there is a one-third cost share — and build prototypes without having to use Defense Department-approved accounting standards, adhere to the new cybersecurity rules, or comply with innumerable edicts that add to overhead.

This is all made possible by a once out-of-fashion contracting vehicle known as the “other transaction authority,” or OTA. The OTA has been around for decades. It was intended to allow nontraditional contractors or small businesses to build prototypes for the Defense Department, NASA and other agencies.

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