Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions2024-06-21T13:24:20-07:00
What are Networking Nights?2024-06-14T12:54:04-07:00

Networking Nights are exclusive, in-person events for our members, held in conjunction with industry tradeshows. These gatherings usually feature a presentation by a program director or an industry-leading guest speaker. Following the presentation, NSTXL hosts a teaming reception where you can connect with other consortium members working in similar capability areas as you.

What is Project TALX?2024-06-14T11:28:40-07:00

Project TALX events ignite conversations around specific opportunities and strengthen industry’s efforts to submit well-informed and effective solutions.

NSTXL’s Project TALX act as a pre-solicitation or post-solicitation virtual industry day, giving interested innovators the chance to hear directly from the government and ask additional questions, leading to more successful projects and eliminating future roadblocks.

What is Innovator NETWORX?2024-06-14T11:23:28-07:00

Innovator NETWORX events are designed to foster an open discussion between members, facilitated by the NSTXL team. Opportunities that engage multiple innovators can lead to more successful prototypes, which is why we created a program that makes it easy for members to find and vet potential teaming partners.

NSTXL’s Innovator NETWORX is a virtual teaming event that gives our innovators the opportunity to communicate directly with companies who are open to teaming on a specific opportunity. During the hour-long event, participants share the opportunity-specific capabilities their companies offer, their past experience working with the DoD (what projects they worked and in what capacity), why they would be a strong teaming partner, the role they would play in the opportunity (Prime or Sub), and more. Participants are encouraged to continue the conversation after the event by joining the opportunity teaming board on NSTXL Community.

What is an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA)?2024-05-24T12:11:58-07:00

An OTA is an acquisition method authorized under Title 10 U.S.C. §4021– (formerly 2371). Congress authorized its use to accelerate the prototyping and deployment of technologies that address national security needs. OTAs also provide a great deal of flexibility compared to more traditional government contracts for both the Government and industry user to enable rapid acquisition of innovative technologies. They are a quicker, more commercially friendly way of competing for prototype funding from the federal government. What makes OTAs different is their focus on nontraditional contractors, meaning companies with little or no experience working with the Department of Defense. For more information on OTAs, please click here.

Which OTAs does NSTXL manage?2024-06-12T06:23:08-07:00

NSTXL currently manages two different OTA contracts. As a member, you can have access to the Strategic and Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems (S2MARTS) OTA. As well as the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC) OTA, given that a DD2345 form is provided. You can see full lists of S2MARTS tech areas here and SpEC tech areas here. Read more about our different OTAs below.

What is the S2MARTS OTA?2024-06-03T08:03:50-07:00

The Strategic & Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems (S²MARTS), managed by NSTXL, is the premier rapid OT contracting vehicle for the Department of Defense (DoD) in trusted microelectronics, strategic & spectrum mission, and other critical mission areas. The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane Division created S²MARTS to grow and engage an elite network of innovators, shorten the path to defense prototype development, and advance national security efforts. You can see full lists of S2MARTS tech areas here. 

What is S2MARTS Research?2024-06-03T08:06:21-07:00

S²MARTS Research is creating a more connected and streamlined Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) ecosystem, uniquely positioned to better establish the relationship between research and prototyping. Operating under the 10 U.S.C 4021 authority, the S²MARTS Research consortium can carry out research projects that meet the needs and requirements of the government at any stage, allowing for a natural transition from research to prototype development.  

What is the SpEC OTA?2024-06-03T08:07:48-07:00

The Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC) was created in 2017 to bridge the cultural gap between military buyers, commercial space startups and small businesses through Other Transaction Authorities (OTA)The OTA innovative contracting process allows SpEC to solicit bids from a mix of member companies including companies that have not previously done work with the Department of Defense. SSC recently awarded management of the SpEC OTA to NSTXL to expedite the contracting between government and industry. NSTXL is focused on building a network of innovators and creators across the most sought-after emerging technology fields. 

What is Microelectronics Commons?2024-06-03T08:09:24-07:00

The Microelectronics Commons program was awarded in 2023 after Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act to strengthen American manufacturing, supply chains, and national security. By investing in this network of 8 regional prototyping Hubs with a focus in 6 main technology areas – 5G/6G, AI Hardware, Commercial Leap-Ahead, Electromagnetic Warfare, Secure Edge/IoT Computing and Quantum Technology – the United States is safeguarding our critical microelectronics supply chain. The Microelectronics Commons was awarded through the Strategic & Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems (S²MARTS) OTA, managed by NSTXL, which is the premier rapid OT contracting vehicle for the Department of Defense (DoD) in trusted microelectronics, strategic & spectrum mission, and other critical mission areas. 

What is the difference between a traditional and nontraditional defense contractor for the purposes of the OTA?2024-06-03T07:58:18-07:00

A non-traditional defense contractor is an entity that is not currently performing and has not performed, for at least the one-year period preceding the solicitation of sources by DoD for the procurement or transaction, any contract or subcontract for the DoD that is subject to full coverage under the cost accounting standards prescribed pursuant to section 1502 of title 41 and the regulations implementing such section (see 10 U.S.C. 2302(9)).  

 Most entities will find they qualify as Non-traditional Defense Contractors, because: 

  • They are a small business exempt from CAS requirements
  • They exclusively perform contracts under commercial procedures
  • They perform exclusively under FFP contracts with adequate price competition
  • They perform less than $50M in CAS covered efforts during the preceding cost accounting period 
Can a traditional defense contractor be awarded projects under the OTA?2021-09-20T14:37:36-07:00

Yes. A traditional contractor may still receive project awards under the OTA given that at least one of the following conditions is met: 1) the traditional contractor includes one or more non-traditional contractors or nonprofit research institutions to perform a significant portion of the billable work; 2) the traditional contractor includes a nontraditional contractor with a technology that is critical to the success of the prototype; 3) the traditional contractor provides for a one-third cost share on the project.

What is a Facility Clearance Level?2021-09-20T14:39:50-07:00

A Facility Clearance Level (FCL) is a determination made by the Government that a contractor is eligible for access to classified information. A contractor must have an FCL commensurate with the highest level of classified access (Secret or Top Secret) required for contract performance.

What are the benefits of NSTXL membership?2024-05-13T13:12:33-07:00

The most valuable benefit of joining NSTXL is the ability to bid on our exclusive solicitations.  Our government customers mandate that you must be a member to submit a bid. NSTXL also offers many other benefits to its members, including:

  • Membership to all of the OTAs we manage.
  • Ability to sign up as many members of your firm as you like, so that multiple team members can track their own areas of interest.
  • A Learning Center with webinars, videos, and other member-only content to give you an edge on winning work and preparing for solicitations.
  • Access to a member community where your firm can interact with other members (find bidding partners, discuss new prototypes, expand your professional network etc).
  • A customizable Opportunity Tracker that allows you to track opportunities and technology areas, ensuring you never miss out on an opportunity.
  • Access to exclusive member-only events at major commercial and government conferences.
How do I become a member of NSTXL?2024-05-13T13:09:41-07:00

To become a member of NSTXL, ensure you have a CAGE code, DUNS number, and if applicable, a JCP-signed Form DD2345. Once you meet these criteria, complete the Membership Application. Submit your application along with payment and following a brief (usually 1 business day) requirement review, your membership will be activated. Should you have any inquiries during the process, don’t hesitate to contact us at

Does my company need a CAGE code?2021-09-20T14:49:36-07:00

Yes, each organization is required to have a CAGE code. If a company has conducted business with the U.S. Government, it should include their CAGE code on their Membership Application. All applying members are required to include their CAGE code when submitting the Membership Application.

What is a CAGE code?2024-05-24T13:35:14-07:00

The Commercial and Government Entity Code, or CAGE Code, is a unique identifier assigned to suppliers to various government or defense agencies, as well as to government agencies themselves and various organizations. CAGE codes provide a standardized method of identifying a given facility at a specific location.

A CAGE code and a DUNS number are required to become a member at NSTXL.

What is a DUNS number?2024-05-24T13:41:10-07:00

A data universal numbering system or DUNS number is a unique, nine-digit series of numerals that identifies a business. Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) creates the number, which generates a business profile in its database and provides a company’s name, phone number, address, number of workers and line of business, along with other relevant corporate information.

A CAGE code and a DUNS number are required to become a member at NSTXL.

How do I determine my company’s membership dues?2024-05-13T13:00:26-07:00

Membership dues are based on company total annual revenue in the previous 12-month period. You can see where you would fall on the chart at the bottom of this page 


If I become a member, who else from my team can participate?2024-05-24T13:48:17-07:00

By becoming a member of NSTXL, you have the ability to add unlimited users from your team to your account! For more information about how to do this, you can reach out to 

Is teaming permitted among eligible applicants?2022-09-23T13:05:24-07:00

Yes, teaming is allowed and encouraged. Find your next teaming partner(s) on NSTXL Community!

My company is a member already. How do I register an account for myself?2024-06-20T13:53:47-07:00

The primary POC for your company’s account can register unlimited additional users. For more information on how to do this, please reach out to

Can my firm join a specific OTA consortium?2024-05-13T13:27:59-07:00

We offer membership to NSTXL, which provides your firm access to all of our OTAs. NSTXL is currently the consortium manager for two OTAs: Strategic & Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems (S2MARTS) and Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC), but we are bidding on many more.  As we manage more OTAs, there is no additional membership fee – just more opportunities for your firm to grow.

Does NSTXL add a cost on top of the member invoice or take a percentage from an invoice?2024-05-13T13:22:50-07:00

No, NSTXL does not add a cost on top of the Performer’s Project invoice or take a percentage of the invoice. NSTXL is paid a management fee by the Government which is a percentage of the total Project Award. This fee does not affect the nominal value of the award to the Performer.

What agreement is put into place between NSTXL (the Consortium Manager) and the selected performer(s) for an opportunity?2021-09-20T14:51:50-07:00

Once a performer(s) has been selected based on the evaluation of white papers or solutions by the government, NSTXL will enter into a Performers Agreement with the selected vendor(s). This takes approximately 3-5 business days after NSTXL has been notified of the selection by the government. Every agreement is different and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the vendor and government program office.

Can a large company benefit from being a NSTXL member, or is it only for nontraditional contractors?2024-05-13T13:03:19-07:00

Traditional defense contractors can greatly benefit from engaging with NSTXL in a variety of ways: NSTXL encourages teaming agreements among members (traditional and non-traditional) to deliver solutions. NSTXL events also offer traditional contractors opportunities to identify business opportunities with innovative technologies from start-ups, universities, and incubators that engage in technology challenges and showcases.

Can SBIR and/or STTR participants apply?2023-01-12T07:24:53-08:00

Yes, the NDAA FY18 made changes to the Small Business Innovation Research (“SBIR”) and Small Business Technology Transfer (“STTR”) programs (Section 864: Other Transaction Authority for Certain Prototype Projects). This (1) increases the amount of funding that can be authorized through the rapid prototyping program from $50 to $100 million for Department Secretaries and from $250 to $500 million for the Secretary of Defense and (2) specifically authorizes SBIR and STTR firms to compete for such funding through the Other Transaction Authority (“OTA”) contracting vehicle. 10 U.S.C. §4022– (formerly 2371b).

How do I find teaming partners?2024-05-24T12:44:53-07:00

You can easily find teaming partners on NSTXL Community. On this member-only platform, you can search and filter through the membership database to identify potential teaming partners that can meet your project needs (i.e. based on technology area, compliance status, and more). Once you find someone that is a good fit, you can talk with them directly by using the chat feature. If you have any further questions about navigating Community, you can reach out to

What is NSTXL Community?2024-05-24T12:38:32-07:00

NSTXL Community is a members-only platform that provides invaluable connections to hundreds of like-minded innovators, along with insider access to opportunity updates, upcoming events, and more. You can join groups centered around specific opportunities, ask questions, vet skills, curate connections, and discover new partners.

How does the Acquisition Team support members through the project lifecycle?2024-05-24T07:29:16-07:00

The Acquisition Team at NSTXL supports members in the following:

  • Provides subject matter expertise in Government contracting and Other Transactions requirements, processes, and associated documents
  • Facilitates and coordinates Solicitation Release and Q&A
  • Receives proposed solutions and provides to Government for evaluation (note: NSTXL is not involved in the selection process or final decision)
  • Provide Government selection decision notifications to all respondents
  • Coordinate & host follow-on exchanges, including clarifications, discussions, and/or negotiations with selected performer and Government, as necessary
  • Prepares and administers project prototype agreements, awards and modifications, with Government-selected Performers
  • Engages, informs, and collaborates with Government and Performer on strategies and modifications in support of the customer missions
Do I have to be a member to view prototype solicitations?2024-05-24T06:37:13-07:00

S2MARTS prototype project requests are publicly posted on the NSTXL and specific consortium websites. Non-members will be able to download and review the full request and requirement for S2MARTS opportunities. However, SpEC is not publicly released and requires a DD2345 to be completed and membership to access. You must be a member of NSTXL to submit a response to any request. For more information on NSTXL membership, click here.

Why are small businesses considered “nontraditional”?2021-09-20T15:00:51-07:00

All contracts and subcontracts with small businesses are exempt from all CAS requirements (FAR 9903.201-1(b)(3)).

Doing business with the Government is new to our company. What information should we include in our proposal?2024-05-24T06:44:06-07:00

The Government’s requirements and desired outcomes are defined for each project solicitation. Note that the solicitation for S2MARTS is referred to as Request for Solutions (RFS) and SpEC is referred to as Request for Prototype Proposal (RPP). Included in the solicitation are specific instructions regarding the contents and format for your submission. It is critical that you review and comply with all the stated requirements and submission instructions to ensure your submission is compliant. If there are any areas of uncertainty or further clarification is needed, please submit your question(s) to NSTXL to assist.

How do I know if I am a non-traditional defense contractor?2024-05-20T13:04:48-07:00

A non-traditional defense contractor is an entity that is not currently performing and has not performed, for at least the one-year period preceding the solicitation of sources by DoD for the procurement or transaction, any contract or subcontract for the DoD that is subject to full coverage under the cost accounting standards prescribed pursuant to section 1502 of title 41 and the regulations implementing such section (see 10 U.S.C. 2302(9)). 

Most entities will find they qualify as non-traditional defense contractors, because: 

  • They are a small business exempt from CAS requirements
  • They exclusively perform contracts under commercial procedures
  • They perform exclusively under FFP contracts with adequate price competition
  • They perform less than $50M in CAS covered efforts during the preceding cost accounting period 
How often will NSTXL release prototype project requests?2021-09-20T14:56:30-07:00

NSTXL releases prototype project requests on demand, year-round. The requesting program offices will determine the frequency of the release of prototype project requests.

Who comprises the selection team for any given solicitation through NSTXL?2024-05-24T07:10:16-07:00

The Government requirement sponsor will identify subject matter experts appropriate to conduct a fair and reasonable evaluation and provide selection recommendations to the Agreements Officer. NSTXL is not involved in the selection process or final decision.

How long after the down-selection has been made will the contract be finalized and work be allowed to begin on the project?2024-05-24T06:51:25-07:00

Each project timeline differs in complexity and structure based on the requirement.

How are IP and data rights handled under the OTA?2024-05-24T06:50:25-07:00

Under an OTA, IP and Data Rights are negotiated on a project-by-project basis prior to the final agreement. Each solicitation provides the SUPPLEMENTAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY & PATENT RIGHTS AGREEMENT (SIPRA) for review and completion to be submitted with your solution for Government consideration and evaluation. Consideration is given to existing IP and data. Commercial and proprietary IP and data developed prior to engagement on specific prototype efforts remain the sole property of the vendor.

What is cost sharing?2024-05-24T06:39:32-07:00

Cost sharing is a statutory requirement for an Other Transaction when a non-traditional contractor is not participating to a significant extent. Cost Sharing is when one-third of the total cost of the prototype project is to be provided by sources other than the Federal Government. Cost sharing can be represented as cash or in-kind value.

What is considered a “prototype”?2024-05-24T07:12:19-07:00

A prototype project can generally be described as a preliminary pilot, test, evaluation, demonstration, or agile development activity used to evaluate the technical or manufacturing feasibility or military utility of a particular technology, process, concept, end item, effect, or other discrete feature. Prototype projects may include systems, subsystems, components, materials, methodology, technology, or processes.  By way of illustration, a prototype project may involve: a proof of concept, a pilot, a novel application of commercial technologies for defense purposes; a creation, design, development, validation, demonstration of technical or operational utility; or combinations of the foregoing, related to a prototype.

What is the definition of Significant Extent?2024-05-24T07:23:52-07:00

There is no statutory definition of “Significant Extent/Participation”; however, examples of what might be considered a significant contribution include:

  • Will supply a new key technology, product or process
  • Will supply a novel application or approach to an existing technology, product or process
  • Will provide a material increase in the performance, efficiency, quality or versatility of a key technology, product or process
  • Will accomplish a significant amount of the prototype project
  • Will cause a material reduction in the cost or schedule of the prototype project
  • Will provide for a material increase in performance of the prototype project

The Government will determine “significant extent/participation” in their evaluation of the solutions. It is the responsibility of the prime to provide justification to support how they meet this requirement when utilizing non-traditional teaming to meet the statutory requirement to participate a traditional Prime in an OT agreement.

Will projects involve compliance with Export Administration Control Regulations (EARS) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)?2024-05-24T07:20:57-07:00

Yes, compliance with EARS and ITAR is mandatory for all firms, regardless of size. Both the Government and NSTXL understand that complying with Export Controls (EARS and ITAR) demands more resources. The Government is required to identify projects requiring Export Control at the project’s ideation stage. This early identification gives Consortium Members sufficient information to decide whether to participate, as these projects will require additional steps and resources.

Could Projects be classified programs and if so, what is the process for organizations to participate in classified projects?2024-05-24T07:25:08-07:00

Yes, some projects may be classified programs. The Government will identify projects requiring use of classified data in the solicitation and provide additional information regarding receipt and submissions of classified documentation. Classified programs require the close involvement of the Government’s security staff to assess and approve Consortium Members for access and control of classified data.

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