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Communication in OTAs

on March 18, 2019

Can We Talk?

Other Transaction Agreements improve Government/Industry Communication

The Other Transaction (OT) model enables open communication between government and industry. Unlike traditional contracts, there are few rules about how and when parties can talk under OTs. This helps government learn about and better understand industry capabilities, and it lets industry better understand government requirements.

Other Transaction Authority allows Government and industry to communicate openly. This helps best align industry technology solutions to Government challenges.When government and industry communicate before and, especially, after releasing a request for proposals under an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA), government can identify and access promising new technologies, while industry can tailor their responses to meet government needs.

These insights from government also help industry focus their own investments (known as Internal R&D, or “IRAD”) on technologies that represent new opportunities. Well-targeted IRAD is a big win for the government, since agencies don’t have to pay to build technologies from scratch. Rather, government pays much less to customize what industry has already built using private money.

Robust government-industry communication is a hallmark of OTAs that leads to better technology outcomes and smoother acquisitions for industry and government alike.

Communication in OTAs

Success Story: NSAM

on March 4, 2019

And the winner is…

Industry-government project teams increase the efficiency and reliability of ships, saving millions for the Navy

Premature failure of a component on submarines due to the buildup of calcareous deposits on these parts often necessitated unscheduled repairs and caused operational limitations for the Navy. Keeping these ships and submarines out of commission led to significant costs for the Navy and impacted mission readiness.

By bringing together companies across industry and leading academic institutions, the ATI-managed Naval Shipbuilding and Advanced Manufacturing Center (NSAM) used collaboration to address this—and many other—Navy challenges.  Working with the Institute for Manufacturing and Sustainment Technologies and General Dynamics Electric Boat, the team developed a thermal spray coating solution for extend/retract cylinder rods in the submarine’s bow plane system.  This coating will prevent the build-up of calcareous deposits on the cylinder rods and will reduce the need for unscheduled maintenance.

Projected savings from the project are more than $9M per hull over the life of each platform, with a total submarine lifecycle cost savings of approximately $300M. In recognition of these enhancements of the Navy’s mission readiness, the project team was awarded a 2017 Defense Manufacturing Technology Achievement Award in the Readiness Improvement category.

Three other NSAM projects were nominated for awards for their outstanding achievements in manufacturing technology: The Dynamic Change Awareness project provides identification of baseline process gaps to reduce process times.  The Enhanced Task Assignment and Progressing (eTAP) project streamlines tasking assignment work for shipyard foremen. Finally, the Machine Readable Material Transactions project reduces the cycle times of material transactions using machine-readable data entry.

By facilitating collaboration between the Navy, shipbuilding and manufacturing industry leaders, and premier academic institutions, NSAM project teams combine efficiency and cost savings with innovation to increase mission readiness.

Success Story: NSAM

OTAs- Its About Time!

on February 18, 2019

It’s About Time!

Other Transaction Agreements give government access to groundbreaking R&D in a fraction of the time it takes under the FAR

The efficiency of the Other Transaction (OT)-consortium model makes OTAs extremely fast compared to typical government-funded prototyping projects. The average solicitation timeline in ATI-managed consortia—from releasing a solicitation to beginning project work—is less than 90 days. In many cases it’s much faster, as the process is designed to go as fast as the government customer and consortium members want it to go.

The below timeline shows how the OTA cycle stacks up against FAR solicitations.

This timeline assumes that the process operates optimally—actual FAR timelines tend to be much longer where the number of proposals overwhelms the government’s internal capacity for review or where extended contract negotiations or protests occur.

On the other hand, under the OT consortium model, timelines in “shared responsibility” areas can shorten over time as cycle-to-cycle learning curves improve.

Timeline comparison between FAR and OTA

One particular advantage of the using an OTA in partnership with a CMF is the consortium manager’s ability to surge resources to perform tasks that the government would be required to perform under a FAR-based contract.  There are significant time savings when the government and consortium share responsibilities and maintain an open dialogue.

For instance, when the Air Force Research Lab needed to make an urgent end-of-year award, the ATI-managed National Spectrum Consortium helped the government release a project solicitation quickly.  ATI’s internal team organized multiple “Industry Day” events for members to learn about the technology need.  The Air Force awarded the project within 60 days and work started only 71 days after announcing the solicitation—much sooner than projects can be awarded under a traditional approach.

OTAs- Its About Time!

Success Story: MTEC

on February 13, 2019

First-of-its-Kind

The Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC) uses a first-of-its-kind funding mechanism that enables both the government and private sponsors to support groundbreaking medical research.

MTEC Award ImageThe Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium has been able to expand its funding base using a novel funding construct in which private sector and philanthropic funds augment government sponsor contributions. ATI’s team of contracting experts were able to design this first-of-its-kind funding structure based on the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s identified needs and MTEC’s program goals, resulting in a customized solution that minimizes government risk and builds on industry’s R&D investments. Funding provided by private sponsors or investors allows MTEC to facilitate development and application of new medical technologies that help heal our warfighters and veterans.

To leverage this innovative funding structure, MTEC partnered with The Allergan Foundation, a U.S.-based, private charitable foundation that supports programs working to improve patient diagnosis, treatment, care, and quality of life. Through MTEC, The Allergan Foundation recently awarded funding to Stanford University (PI: Dr. Jeffrey Goldberg) to continue a vision restoration research effort originally funded by the Army via MTEC.

Success Story: MTEC

SpEC Success Story

on January 28, 2019

3…2…1…Lift Off!

ATI rapidly established the Space Enterprise Consortium by leveraging our expansive infrastructure for collaboration management

When the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center wanted to quickly access cutting edge space technologies from across industry and academia, ATI was able to stand up and begin operating the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC) in less than 60 days! We worked closely with the Air Force to quickly and efficiently adopt governance documents, elect consortium leadership, and recruit members that met the government’s specific technology needs.

ATI was awarded the SpEC OTA on November 2, 2017, began adding member organizations by Day 36, and issued its first solicitation to 40 active members on Day 67. By Day 180, SpEC had more than 140 members, had released five solicitations and had made eleven project awards to ten different members totaling $22M of funding on contract!

By strategically leveraging our suite of template governance documents, best practices developed while building five other OT consortia since 2014, and our staff surge capacity, ATI made SpEC’s speedy ramp-up possible.

SpEC Success Story

Democratizing Contracting: Part 1

on January 7, 2019

OTA Consortia Democratize Government Contracting for Small Businesses and Nontraditional Contractors

Through OTA consortia, small businesses and academic institutions can bring innovative technologies to the DoD to advance critical defense capabilities

This week, we’re looking at how diverse OTA consortia of government, industry, and academic organizations can better support federal contracting through collaboration with small businesses, large businesses, and academia. By bringing together the groundbreaking technologies from small businesses and academic institutions and the production and integration capabilities of large companies, diversity in federal contracting ultimately improves defense capabilities.

Before we begin explaining how OTAs democratize government contracting, it may be helpful to understand the current state of this market.  Historically, the federal government has awarded most of its big contracts to large contractors in order to meet the substantial procurement needs of federal agencies.  As the missions of these agencies continue to grow in both scope and complexity, only companies with the infrastructure to support wide-reaching national and international missions have the resources necessary to complete considerable initiatives or meet strict contracting, accounting, or security requirements.

The federal market offers significant opportunities for small and emerging business that can meet critical government technology needs: in 2017 alone, the federal government spent $3.98 trillion across all of its contracts with U.S. businesses, benefitting both these federal agencies and the domestic companies providing the talent necessary to complete that contract work.  However, due to the nature of government contracting, in which large sums are often allocated to a single large vendor, small businesses and nontraditional contractors have typically been unable to participate in this “built for titans” contracting market.  In the long run, this approach can restrict the government’s access to innovative technologies available from across industry.

Join us next time to learn how nontraditional contractors can offer better solutions to many of the government’s challenges!

Democratizing Contracting: Part 1

One-Stop Shopping

on December 6, 2018

The flexibility of OTAs makes it possible for the government and industry to use a single consortium management firm for all of their contracting and administrative needs—meaning government and industry can focus on building better technologies

You’ve already learned about how the government partners with an industry consortium through an OTA in Other Transaction 101.  However, the benefits of an OTA are enhanced when the government and industry work with a consortium management firm.

Usually, the consortium management firm (CMF) handles the business operations of the consortium, dealing with all the contractual interactions needed to assemble project teams and dissolve them when the work is completed, taking care of contracting, payments, cost analyses, negotiations, IP issues, and all the other mundane tasks needed to enable the exciting prototype work. For the Government, this means the best of both worlds: the ease of one-stop shopping, coupled with easy access to innovations from flexible, as-needed industry teams.

The CMF can award projects one-by-one (as directed by the government), or it can use a streamlined approach where all Government contracting decisions are communicated through a single Agreements Officer to the CMF, which then places projects on award.  In some OT-consortia, the consortium or CMF has very little involvement in technical/cost evaluation of project proposals. Others use non-Government subject matter experts to inform Government source selection bodies about the technical and/or commercial merit of project proposals submitted by consortium members.

Ultimately, allowing a CMF to take on some of the burdens of contracting meanings that the government can focus its time and resources on finding the technologies they need, and industry benefits from faster, simpler contracting.

Single Point Contracting Process for the OT Consortium Model

Single Point Contracting Process for the OT Consortium Model

One-Stop Shopping

Special Post – Bob Tuohy Interview

on November 5, 2018

Bob Tuohy, ATI’s COO, discusses OTAs with Government Matters

ATI’s Chief Operating Office, Bob Tuohy recently sat down with Government Matters to discuss the recent growth of OTAs within the DoD and to share some of the benefits this contracting vehicle offers. Bob specifically describes the opportunities for collaboration offered through OTAs and how this collaboration benefits both government and industry.

You can enjoy the full interview below.

Special Post – Bob Tuohy Interview

Success Story

on October 16, 2018

Battle Ready 

By enabling collaboration between government, industry, and academia, the AMC successfully delivers innovative metalcasting solutions and best-value support to our Warfighters

Government agencies like the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) were having trouble obtaining repair or replacement parts for critical weapons systems because many US manufacturers had gone out of business as a result of manufacturing globalization.  The sensitive nature of these defense materiels meant that DLA needed to source all components domestically, but it had difficulty replacing or repairing parts where the American manufacturers had closed their doors, so multi-million dollar systems were out of commission when the government couldn’t get thousand dollar replacement parts.

To bring these systems back into operation, DLA worked with ATI to form and manage the American Metalcasting Consortium (AMC), a collaborative partnership made up of 95% of existing US metalcasting suppliers and manufacturers, as well as academic organizations with expertise in critical need areas.  Today, AMC funds critical research and development on behalf of DLA, like:

  • Reducing production costs and lead times for production of weapons system components by improving manufacturing processes that strengthen the US supply chain;
  • Developing industry product data standards that communicate needs and expectations along the supply chain, reducing production costs, lead times, and failure rates; and
  • Identifying and evaluating new technologies that improve the strength, effectiveness, and efficiency of cast parts, ensuring technological superiority of our defense systems.

By enabling cohesive collaboration between government, industry, and academia, ATI and the AMC successfully deliver innovative metalcasting solutions and best-value support to our Warfighters while maintaining the US metalcasting industry’s position as a world leader in this field.

Success Story

Advanced Technology International (ATI) honors Robert Kiggans, company founder and visionary leader

on September 11, 2018

Robert KiggansThe ATI team mourns the loss of our founder, Robert (Bob) Kiggans, who passed away at home on Friday, August 31, 2018.  Bob served as ATI’s President and CEO from our incorporation in July 1998 until 2006, when he became the Chief Operating Officer of South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA), ATI’s then parent company.

Bob’s vision and entrepreneurial spirit led ATI to become a pioneer in the field of R&D consortium management.  “As ATI’s founder and first CEO, Bob’s vision set the course that we are sailing today.  Even after turning over that role, he kept a watchful eye on ATI as a loving and devoted parent would their child,” ATI’s current President and CEO, Chris Van Metre remembers.  “Bob was ATI’s greatest adviser, cheerleader, and defender.  I will miss him dearly, but vow to give everything I have to serve his legacy and keep his spirit alive in ATI.”

Before becoming ATI’s President and CEO, Bob served twenty years in the U.S. Air Force as a Radar Navigator on the B-52 aircraft, flying more than 150 combat missions in Southeast Asia.  When he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel, Bob had received the Defense Superior Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Air Medal with one silver and four bronze Oak Leaf Clusters.

After retiring from the Air Force, Bob accepted an appointment from the U.S. Department of Commerce as the Head of the U.S. Delegation to the international Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) Steering Committee, and later became its Chair. He was a Research Fellow with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a former senior member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and a Tau Beta Pi Eminent Engineer.  Extremely experienced in the field of advanced computer and product data technologies, Bob was awarded the prestigious International Leadership Award by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for his outstanding leadership in furthering the discipline of computers and information in engineering.  Bob was a recipient of SCRA’s Knowledge Economist Award in South Carolina and inducted into the Academy of Engineers as a 2018 Honoree of The Citadel.

At ATI, Bob is remembered as an inspiring, natural leader and—first and foremost—a friend. As Thornton White, Director of ATI’s Logistics Technologies division, explains, “[Bob] made it a point to know something special about every one of his employees—it was not all about business, the people were very important to him as well.”

Dale Orren, a Director in our Naval Technologies division, recalls that “his patient, friendly manner established a welcoming environment [at ATI] … He set the benchmark for how a boss should be: firm, fair, consistent, compassionate, caring, engaged.”  Kathy Zolman, a Program Manager with the Medical and Software Services division, also remembers Bob’s positive spirit: “Bob was larger than life and will be greatly missed by many.  He was a great mentor and I am extremely grateful to have had the chance to work with him for many years.”

We are honored to have worked with such an inspirational, innovative leader.  ATI offers our deepest condolences to Bob’s family and friends.

Robert Kiggans cutting the ATI Anniversary Cake

At ATI’s 20th anniversary celebration in April 2018, Bob Kiggans cut the cake with the newest ATI employee, Frank McKenna.

Bob in a beanbag chair.

Bob tests out the bean bag chairs at the ATI office.

Advanced Technology International (ATI) honors Robert Kiggans, company founder and visionary leader