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Apr 5, 2022

Don’t “FAR” All Over My OTA

The title of this post has been my mantra when implementing prototype other transaction agreements going on four years. I wish I could take credit for this punny and clever slogan, but I first heard it from one of the other unsung heroes in the contracting field I have had the pleasure of working with for going on four years; the brilliant, forward-leaning, and unsuspecting contracting shadow ninja she is and continues to be in our field.

Even after working with other transactions for almost 10 years now, I don’t think I have yet unlocked the true unbelievable potential other transaction authority provides the Federal Government. The DoD Other Transaction Guide (November 2018 version 1.0) lauds some bold statements identifying the purpose for using other transaction authority, to include “adopt and incorporate business practices that reflect commercial industry standards…” and “Collaborate in innovative arrangements.” Unfortunately, more often than not these words are rarely embraced when it matters the most during execution.

I have been fortunate enough to follow acquisition visionaries throughout my career enough to challenge conventional processes and expectations, but admittedly even I’m still subconsciously held back by my own federal acquisition programming. Why is this? Why do we in the acquisition and contracting field continue to push the square contracting peg into the round other transaction authority hole?

If you’ve read this far and know what I’m talking about, you’ve likely experienced and come to expect some of these unfulfilled other transaction promises or expectations:

  • “Rapid” acquisition that equates to a 6 month+ timeline (sometimes over a year!)
  • Review of pricing information equates to traditional cost analysis.
  • Identifying prototype solutions to fill capability gaps equates to procurement of solutions to address prescriptive requirements.
  • Other transaction competition requirements equate to CICA’s (Competition in Contract Act) version of full and open competition.
  • Local agency policies model and reflect traditional contract documentation and approvals for oversight and compliance purposes, stifling any innovative practices that may be adopted on this front.

All of the above and then some. It’s counterintuitive to re-create FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation) processes and documentation under an authority that purposefully excludes application of the FAR. To really tap into the power and potential of other transaction authority, we need more business acquisition professionals willing to create other transaction art from a blank canvas. Throw out everything you thought you knew and dare to think critically and unapologetically deliver the best business case, and ultimately best investment decision, to meet the mission. Yes, this might mean previously used FAR templates and samples are obsolete (gasp!).

For those that are unsure of the road less traveled, I welcome you to an exciting adventure of a mostly uncharted and unprecedented frontier. Our FAR toolbox should be a last resort after exploring other methods, models, and processes. In doing so, we’ll deal less with those trying to “FAR” on our other transaction agreements.

Have an opinion and want to connect?

About Bonnie Evangelista:

Bonnie Evangelista is a Senior Procurement Analyst for the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), leading efforts to design and build a rapid acquisition environment to accelerate the pace of AI innovation and delivery. In her previous role, she served as the Deputy Product Lead for Applied Cyber Technologies, leading efforts to provide the infrastructure and environments necessary for defensive cyber innovation and integration. She has an MBA from Liberty University and B.As in political science and Spanish from Virginia Tech.