Technology has never moved faster than it does today. Just as something is released, another replacement is being developed. Without more sophisticated contracting authorities and collaborative vehicles, keeping up with the newest technology on the market, especially when it comes to national security prototypes, is nearly impossible.
In a hybrid session last month, co-hosted by the NavalX Midwest Tech Bridge and NSTXL, panelists discussed how to leverage Other Transaction Authorities (OTA), specifically Strategic & Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems (S2MARTS), to deliver innovative solutions to the Warfighter, how to utilize the innovation ecosystem to address program needs and how to foster a collaborative partnership with ecosystem enablers such as NSTXL and NavalX.
The S2MARTS OTA, managed by NSTXL, is the rapid OT contracting vehicle for the Department of Defense (DoD) in trusted microelectronics, strategic & spectrum missions, and other critical mission areas. The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane Division, created S2MARTS to encourage collaboration between industry, academia, non-profits, and the Government, stimulating critical technology area innovations. Since its establishment, S2MARTS has released 31 projects with nearly $400 million in obligated funds. Along with 21 project awards to multiple performers with 10 projects still in the evaluation process.
While they may have different technology focus areas, at their core, OTA’s are all driven by and designed to fulfill a common purpose:
- Keeping Pace with Technology: OTA’s naturally invite more innovative technologies from non-traditional defense organizations for rapid prototyping with their flexible, agile, and engaging processes
- Speed of Acquisition: OT’s decrease acquisition time to award. Dependent upon complexity, most prototype projects within S2MARTS award within approximately 100 days from the release of a Request For Solutions (RFS), a steep improvement considering Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) based contracts can take upwards of 12-24 months.
- Diversification of Sources: By fostering increased competition in the market and encouraging non-traditional entities to get involved, Government program offices can access an increasingly wide net of innovators who originally would not have been considered
For OT’s to be truly successful, the ecosystem they leverage must be supported by a collaborative environment that provides impactful results. In other words, they need to be in a system that works. Partnering with other active ecosystems, such as the NavalX community, provides for cross-pollination, open innovative communication, and broader outreach to innovators in aligned or adjacent technical domains. This type of ecosystem partnering results in technical innovator growth as well as a more informed government-ready community.
Collaborative teaming is key to obtaining high-quality solutions for the government client. By really focusing and being intentional with our OT-driven outreach and engagement, we can set the stage for earlier opportunity awareness that supports extensive teaming and partnering sessions.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) for Research and Engineering (R&E) was the first customer to utilize the S2MARTS OTA in July 2019.
The OSD S2MARTS OT portfolio is focused on Trusted Microelectronics in support of the DoD Microelectronics Roadmap. It has grown to a total of eight awarded projects with many of those following a multi-phased collaborative acquisition approach. Thus far, $370M+ has been awarded to support these eight projects with $250M+ still planned in future obligations.
The OSD S2MARTS portfolio has provided DoD access to not just commercial companies, but commercial processes. Not only are companies seeing a faster time to award, but they are also excelling in the more open collaborative environment that S2MARTS provides. NSTXL supported the OSD Government team on the messaging of the Request for Solutions (RFS) in a way that allowed industry to provide truly innovative solutions, keeping it flexible and open to new ideas. This type of flexibility has been critical in the formulation of this OSD portfolio.
S2MARTS is continuing to focus on the growth of high-priority, emerging technology areas, through the introduction of new strategic programs and ecosystem expansion. With the continued focus on engaging other ecosystem partners by hosting, and supporting collaborative events, the S2MARTS team is challenging the status quo, increasing competition in the market, and fostering alliances with the world’s best innovators and partners.
Learn more about S2MARTS and explore open opportunities at https://s2marts.org/. To be notified when new S2MARTS opportunities are posted, subscribe to NSTXL and we’ll send them straight to your inbox, no membership required.