Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions2022-09-26T12:13:11-07:00


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.

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).

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.

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 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.
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!

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.

If I am part of a university system, does membership apply to all campuses within the system or is it specific to the campus I am on?2021-09-20T14:44:45-07:00

University membership is processed at the campus level. For example, a membership for the University of Texas at Austin covers the entire Austin campus. The University of Texas El Paso would require a separate membership for that campus.

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 


What are the terms of membership?2024-05-13T12:38:58-07:00

Companies that meet our requirements and align with our Principles of Engagement are qualified to become members. If your company is authorized to conduct business with the Department of Defense, possesses a valid DUNS number and CAGE code, and, if seeking SpEC membership, holds a valid, JCP-signed Form DD2345, you can join NSTXL. Membership dues remain valid for one year from the time of payment.

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


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)).

Do I have to be a member to view prototype solicitations?2022-09-23T13:02:53-07:00

No. All prototype project requests will be publicly posted on the NSTXL and specific consortium websites. Non-members will be able to download and review the full request and requirement. However, membership in NSTXL is required to submit a response to any request. For information on NSTXL membership, click here: Membership.

How can I track by my technology area contract opportunities?2021-09-20T14:59:56-07:00

Contract announcements and “Coming Soon” opportunities include technology areas that are defined and described by government clients and in alignment with technology areas listed above and on the NSTXL website. NSTXL will help to clarify matches with your technology capabilities when needed.

What is cost sharing?2021-09-20T14:59:05-07:00

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.

Doing business with the Government is new to our company. What information should we include in our proposal?2024-05-20T12:38:32-07:00

Each Request for Solutions, or RFS, is deliberately tailored for each project and all instructions regarding your proposal’s content and format are contained within that document. Ensure you review all RFS instructions since a noncompliant proposal may be grounds for deeming your response ineligible for consideration. If something in the RFS doesn’t quite make sense, please submit your question to NSTXL and we can 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 are IP and data rights handled under the OTA?2021-09-20T14:57:19-07:00

Under an OTA, IP and Data Rights are negotiated on a project-by-project basis prior to final agreement. 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.

How long after the down-selection has been made will the contract be finalized and work be allowed to begin on the project?2021-09-20T14:56:56-07:00

Each project timeline differs in complexity and structure based on the requirement. However, the typical timeframe from prototype project request issuance to project agreement finalization is 60-90 days.

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?2021-09-20T14:56:05-07:00

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 does not play a part in the selection of any vendors.

What is considered a “prototype”?2021-09-20T14:55:43-07:00

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.

Will projects involve compliance with Export Administration Control Regulations (EARS) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)?2021-09-20T14:55:15-07:00

Yes, compliance to EARS and ITAR is required. Any firm large or small must comply with US regulations and laws, no matter the level of effort. Both the Government and NSTXL realize that complying with Export Controls (EARS and ITAR) will take more resources. The Government is required to identify projects requiring Export Control at the beginning of the project ideation. This provides Consortium Members with adequate information early in the process to determine if they want to respond, since these types of projects would require additional steps and resources.

What is the definition of Significant Extent?2021-09-20T14:54:43-07:00

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.

Could Projects be classified programs and if so, what is the process for organizations to participate in classified projects?2021-09-20T14:54:15-07:00

Yes, some projects may be classified programs. The Government will identify projects requiring use of classified data in the Request for Solutions. 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.

NSTXL Community

How do I find teaming partners?2024-05-13T10:22:08-07:00

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. Refer to our helpful How To Guide or How To Video for more information.

How do I sign up for NSTXL Community?2024-05-13T13:37:07-07:00

Click here to go to NSTXL Community. Signing up is easy, as you will create a login with the same email that you use for your NSTXL account.

What is NSTXL Community?2024-05-13T13:33:24-07:00

NSTXL Community is a members-only teaming platform giving you insider access to hundreds of like-minded innovators. You can join groups based on opportunities, ask questions, vet skills, curate connections, and find new partners.


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 is a CAGE code?2021-09-20T14:39:07-07:00

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.

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 the difference between a traditional and nontraditional defense contractor for the purposes of the OTA?2021-09-20T14:38:24-07:00

A “Non-traditional defense contractor” is defined by statute as “an entity that is not currently performing and has not performed, for at least the one-year period preceding the solicitation sources by the Department of Defense for the procurement or transaction, any contract or subcontract for the Department of Defense that is subject to the full coverage under the cost accounting standards prescribed pursuant to Section 1502 of title 41 and the regulations implementing such section.”  In plainspeak, if your firm is obligated to follow government accounting standards (is DCAA compliant), then you are a traditional firm.  If you have never heard of DCAA, then assume your firm is a non-traditional.

What is an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA)?2024-05-13T12:41:06-07:00

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.

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