Rapid Acquisition References
This page captures all the leading strategic initiatives, organizations, articles, books, events, and more on how DoD can rapidly exploit emerging technology.
Third Offset Strategy
Announced in Dec 2014, aims to reassert America’s military technological edge. A core component of the initiative is the formation of a Long-Range Research and Development Planning Program that will purportedly target several promising technology areas, including robotics and system autonomy, miniaturization, big data, and advanced manufacturing, while also seeking to improve the U.S. military’s collaboration with innovative private sector enterprises. At a CNAS Event in Dec 2015, DEPSECDEF Work (video, transcript) gave greater insight into five key points he is looking into over the next year:
- Autonomous “deep learning” machines and systems
- Human-machine collaboration, specifically the ways machines can help humans with decision-making.
- Assisted-human operations, or ways machines can make the human operate more effectively
- Advanced human-machine teaming, where a human is working with an unmanned system.
- Semi-autonomous weapons that are hardened to operate in an electronic warfare environment.
- Assessing the Third Offset Strategy, CSIS, Mar 2017
- DEPSECDEF Work – 3rd Offset strategy is about people, not tech, Breaking Defense, Feb 2016
- Work Outlines Key Steps in Third Offset Tech Development , Defense News, Dec 2015
- DEPSECDEF Work on Third Offset Strategy Transcript, Video
- CNAS Defense Innovation Michèle Flournoy, CEO, CNAS; Jamie Morin, CAPE Director, Darryl Davis, President, Boeing Phantom Works; Ben FitzGerald, CNAS
- CSIS Assessing Third Offset Strategy – Defense Innovation, Oct 2016
Defense Innovation Marketplace
The Defense Innovation Marketplace is a communications resource to provide industry with improved insight into the Research and Engineering investment priorities of the DoD. The Marketplace contains DoD R&E strategic documents, solicitations, and News/Events to better inform Independent Research and Development (IR&D) planning. The website includes: New Business Opportunities, Technical Interchange Meetings, Defense Innovation Initiative, Strategic Direction, Small Business Resources, and News & Events.
Rapid Acquisition Organizations
Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) – Then DEPSECDEF Carter created the SCO in 2012 to help DoD re-imagine existing DOD, IC and commercial systems by giving them new roles and game-changing, classified capabilities to confound potential enemies — the emphasis here was on rapidity of fielding, not 10 and 15-year programs. Getting stuff in the field quickly. $470M budget in FY16. Dr. William Roper is the Director
- New generation of drones set to revolutionize warfare, CBS 60 Minutes, Jan 2017
- Carter, Roper Unveil Army’s New Ship-Killer Missile: ATACMS Upgrade, Breaking Defense Oct 2016
- Robot Boats, Smart Guns & Super B-52s: Carter’s Strategic Capabilities Office, Breaking Defense, Feb 2016
- Pentagon’s Secret Weapon Maker, FoxNews, Feb 2016
- Carter lifts the veil on classified work of secretive Strategic Capabilities Office, Inside Defense, Feb 2016
- Veil of secrecy lifted on Pentagon office planning ‘Avatar’ fighters and drone swarms, Washington Post, Mar 2016
- Dr. Roper, SASC Testimony, Apr 2016
- Strategic Capabilities Office Is ‘Buying Time’ For Offset: William Roper, Breaking Defense, Jul 2016
- Director of Innovative DoD Office Lobbies Make or Break Acquisition, FedNewsRadio, Jul 2016
Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) – expedites development and fielding of select DoD combat support and weapon systems by leveraging defense-wide technology development efforts and existing operational capabilities.
Air Force Big Safari Program has successfully employed a rapid acquisition approach to meet the need for accelerated acquisition, tailored according to the product being acquired. This approach is enabled by a culture of urgency, trust, decentralized decision authority, and the wide use of more flexible contracting approaches. The results were rapid modification and integration of commercial sensor systems onto Air Force strategic intelligence collection platforms.
Army Rapid Capabilities Office is the Army’s signature initiative to expedite critical technologies to the field to counter urgent and emerging threats. As a key piece of Army acquisition reform efforts, the new office will conduct rapid materiel development and delivery to address immediate, near-term and mid-term combatant commanders’ needs. Beyond closing current capability gaps, the organization also aims to stimulate aggressive, proactive capability development and leverage disruptive technologies to meet Army strategic objectives.
- Army’s RCO Approves Strategy to Prototype Electronic Warfare Capability, Defense News, Dec 2016
- Army Stands Up Office to Develop New Capabilities, National Defense Magazine, Oct 2016
- SecArmy Fanning, Ms. McFarland, and MG Piatt on Army RCO, Bloomberg Gov, Aug 2016
- Army opening office to rapidly deploy combat capabilities, Bloomburg Gov’t, Aug 2016
- Army’s New Rapid Capabilities Office Studies Electronic Warfare Boost, Breaking Defense, Jul 2016
- MG Piatt, Army RCO Director on Government Matters TV, 6 Nov 16
Maritime Accelerated Capabilities Office (MACO), based on the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office, which will create a “speed lane” for mature programs that can be fielded with less risk. MACO would oversee these programs from cradle to grave and include the necessary requirements, acquisition, fleet and legal representatives needed to rapidly field these mature systems.
- New Navy Procurement Office, Marines to Push Rapid Innovation In 2016, USNI News, Mar 2016
- Navy wants an acquisition system willing to fail fast FedNewsRadio, Mar 2016
- Marine Corps Sets Up Rapid Capabilities Office, Inside Defense
Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF) harnesses current and emerging technologies to provide immediate solutions to the urgent challenges of U.S. Army forces deployed globally. Vision: To remain the Army’s quick response capability for urgent non-standard equipment. In partnership with Soldiers worldwide, REF identifies emerging capability gaps; provides solutions within a timeframe relevant to current operations; and shares information with stakeholders to inform and accelerate the deliberate capability development and acquisition processes.
Army Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs) series of Soldier-led evaluations designed to further integrate and rapidly progress the Army’s tactical communications network, which is a top Army modernization priority.
USSOCOM SOFTWERX is a 10,000 square-foot open floor building with the look and feel of a tech startup. The name is a melding of SOF and a stylized spelling of “Works.” SOCOM decided it needed to do something in response to growing concerns that the military has been a technology laggard and needs to create new channels to communicate with the faster-moving private sector. Video of Event
Digital Defense Office brings coders in for a tour of duty. Led by Chris Lynch. The DDS will be a small team of engineers and data experts meant to “improve the Department’s technological agility and solve its most complex IT problems.
Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO) will enable DoD actions to counter improvised threats with tactical responsiveness and through anticipatory, rapid acquisition in support of Combatant Commands’ efforts to prepare for, and adapt to, battlefield surprise in support of counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, and other related mission areas including counter-improvised explosive device.
- DARPA For more than fifty years, DARPA has held to a singular and enduring mission: to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security.
- DASD EC&P The Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO) has two lanes of activities. The first lane of activities is the Rapid and Quick Reaction Funds focused on providing a hedge against technology risks and accelerating warfare capabilities, respectively. Additionally, they have an emerging technology development aimed at countering the emerging threats. The second lane of activities in this office is called the Innovation Outreach, formally known as DaVinci. The objective of the Innovation Outreach is to identify innovative ideas and matched them with DoD needs. Another innovation venue is JCTDs. The JCTD Program executes operational prototypes to address the most pressing technology gaps facing the Department of Defense. Starting in FY15 JCTD, projects primarily be initiated to develop technology solutions in the four EC&P focus areas, namely, Space capability resilience, Autonomous systems, Electromagnetic spectrum agility, and Asymmetric force application
- DASD Research -Oversight of the 17 S&T Communities of Interest for DoD. The COI Identifies the current DoD investments, gaps and challenges. The MITRE thought leaders supporting each of the COIs can the mediums for transitioning our innovations as well as being the innovation bridge. The value of the COI activity is identifying the areas DoD is already investing in, and the gaps and challenges they are trying to achieve. Industry can then identify where they can accelerate the goals of DoD or fill the gap areas for a particular COI/Service. The COI provides the S&T investment roadmap but industry partners need to engage with the services who control the funding. Small seedling efforts are funded directly to COIs but very limited amount, 5 seedlings at $500K across the $12B – DoD S&T investment. COIs regularly request industry engagement through FEDBIZOPs
- Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) – Provides a collaborative vehicle for small businesses to provide the department with innovative technologies that can be rapidly inserted into acquisition programs that meet specific defense needs. RIF is administered by the ASD R&E and Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP).
- Reliance 21 – The overarching framework for DoD’s S&T joint planning and coordination process. The goal of Reliance 21 is to ensure that the DoD S&T community provides solutions and advice to the DoD’s senior level decision makers, warfighters, Congress, and other stakeholders in the most effective and efficient manner possible. This is achieved through an ecosystem and infrastructure that enables information sharing, alignment of effort, coordination of priorities, and support for scientists and engineers across the DoD. Reliance 21 Operating Principles 17 Communities of Interest
- Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) – Private-sector resources, operating in the public interest. They perform work closely associated with inherently governmental functions and assist the government with its long-term research or development needs. FFRDCs enjoy a special relationship with their government sponsors, marked by special access to government data and resources. In exchange, FFRDCs must be free of organizational conflicts of interest and cannot compete for work, except for the right to operate an FFRDC. A FFRDC primer from The MITRE Corporation.
- University Aligned Research Centers (UARCs) – strategic DoD research centers associated with a university. UARCs are formally established by the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E). UARCs were developed to ensure that essential engineering and technology capabilities of particular importance to the DoD are maintained. Although UARCs receive sole source funding under the authority of 10 U.S.C. Section 2304(c)(3)(B), they may also compete for science and technology work unless precluded from doing so by their DoD UARC contracts.
Industry Outreach Organizations
Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) Located in Mountain View, CA, the DIUx will position the DoD to be more open to the infusion of non-traditional technical ideas and talent. The initiative is designed to create a hub for increased communication with, knowledge of, and access to innovating, high-tech start-up companies and entrepreneurs and their leading edge technologies. The mission of DIUx is to: Strengthen existing relationships and build new ones; Scout for breakthrough and emerging technologies; and serve as a local point of presence for the Department. Articles on DoD Partnership with Silicon Valley
- Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) Guide, DIUx, Nov 2016
- DOD Directive 5105.85, DIUx, Jul 2016
- Speed Contracting, Army Acquisition Support Center, Dec 2016
- Remotely Piloted Aircraft and “Drone” Showcase, DIUx, Jan 2016
- One Defense: Bridging the Pentagon and Silicon Valley by Stephen Rodriguez and Greg Sypeck, War on the Rocks, Nov 2015
- ‘We’re Allowed To Fail’: DoD’s Silicon Valley Outpost Truly Experimental, Breaking Defense, Oct 2015
- Five Reasons Why Silicon Valley Won’t Partner With The Pentagon by Loren Thompson, Lexington Institute, Apr 2015
Massachusetts Innovation Bridge connects local businesses, non-profits, and academic institutions with federal opportunities. Through opportunity identification and matching, technical exchanges, educational resources, networking events, and ongoing support, MIB helps you make the most of every opportunity.
- Massachusetts, MITRE Launch the Massachusetts Innovation Bridge, Gov Baker, Apr 2016
Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Small Business Hub has nearly 450 members, held 70 collider events and 210 one-on-one meetings to assist businesses and link them with AFRL.
Technology Domain Awareness (TDA) the effective understanding of the technology landscape as it relates to defense needs. It is a defense innovation business process based on shared technology information and related operational concepts and lessons learned to support better technology decision making. Information Analysis Center TDA is building an expanded defense technology innovation community of practice that incorporates DOD stakeholders, traditional defense industry, the start-up and venture capital communities, and the academic research community. It employs a combination of incentives, information, shared infrastructure, and services to:
- Facilitate the rapid identification of defense-relevant technology opportunities and challenges,
- Enable collaborative development and prototyping activities,
- Develop a learning context for defense technology innovation and
- Link and scale distributed innovation efforts to enhance transition and address DOD-wide learning objectives
See also Innovation Warfare: TDA and America’s Military Edge, War on the Rocks, Oct 2014
Other Transaction Authority (OTA)
OTAs are a mechanism to access innovative research and development from non-traditional vendors who are challenged by the standard requirements of traditional contracts, grants, or cooperative research and development agreements. OTAs are exempt from FAR and are not required to follow a standard format or include standard terms and conditions. Agencies must be explicitly authorized by Congress to use OTAs. Eleven federal agencies currently have Congressional authorization for OTAs: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE), Health and Human Service (HHS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transportation Security Administration (TSA – DHS), Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO – DHS), Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E DOE), National Institutes of Health (NIH – HHS).
- Flexibility to tailor agreements to reach non-traditional vendors with innovation research development and demonstration (RD&D) solutions
- Negotiable funding arrangements, payment milestones, and length of agreement to achieve research and prototype projects
When To Use
- For R&D activities to advance new technologies and processes and prototyping or models to evaluate feasibility or utility of a technology
- To address perceived obstacles to doing business with the government by nontraditional vendors to include intellectual property rights and compliance with cost accounting standards
- Risks due to reduced accountability and transparency
- Challenges to develop, negotiate, execute, and administer due to lack of standard structure
- Activities/outcomes associated with OTAs cannot easily be measured for purposes of evaluation
|Agency||OTA Authority||Agency Specific OTA Requirements, Limitations, and Restrictions|
|NASA||51 U.S.C. § 20113(e)||No limitations or restrictions.|
|DOD||10 U.S.C. § 2371||Authorized for prototype projects directly relevant to enhancing mission effectiveness of military personnel and the supporting platforms, systems, components, or materials in use by the Armed Services.
Meet one of the following conditions:
The agency senior procurement executive determines that exceptional circumstances justify use of a transaction not feasible or appropriate under a contract or provides opportunity to expand the defense supply base in a manner not practical or feasible under a contract
|DOE||42 U.S.C. § 7256||Limited to RD&D projects. Cost sharing agreement required.|
|HHS||42 U.S.C. § 247-7e||Limited to RD&D projects. Cost sharing agreement required.|
|DHS||6 U.S.C. § 391||Authorized for RD&D and prototype projects.
Prototype projects require a non-traditional contractor and cost sharing agreement.
|DOT||49 U.S.C. § 5312||Limited to RD&D focused on public transportation.|
|FAA||49 U.S.C. § 106(l)||No limitations or restrictions.|
|TSA||49 U.S.C. § 114(m)||No limitations or restrictions.|
|DNDO||6 U.S.C. § 596||No limitations or restrictions.|
|ARPA-E||42 U.S.C. § 16538||No limitations or restrictions.|
|NIH||42 U.S.C. § 285b-3; 42 U.S.C. § 284n; 42 U.S.C. § 287a||Limitations and restrictions differ based on specific research programs.|
Additional OSD approvals and references per DPAP OTA Guide
|Prototype Project Cost (Including Options)||Non-delegable Approval Authority for Military Departments/ Defense Agencies with OT Authority||Approval Authority Source|
|Over $50 Million and Up to $250 Million||Senior Procurement Executives (SPE) of the Military Departments – the Service Acquisition Executives (SAEs) for Army, Navy and Air Force Senior Procurement Executive for the Fourth Estate – USD(AT&L) Director of DARPA Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA)||10 U.S.C. §2371b(a)(2)(A)|
|Over $250 Million||USD(AT&L)||10 U.S.C. §2371b(a)(2)(B)(1)|
 Section 815 of the FY 2016 NDAA defines a non-traditional defense contractor as an entity that is not currently performing and has not performed, for at least the one-year period preceding the solicitation of sources by the DoD for the procurement or transaction, any contract or subcontract for the DoD 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.
 Section 815 of the FY 2016 NDAA replaced section 845 of the FY 1994 NDAA (repealed) and provided DoD with permanent authority for prototypes, as well as increased dollar threshold approval levels for prototype projects, amended criterion for OTA eligibility, and allows a prototype project to transition to award of a follow-on production contract.
- Other Transaction Authority Guide, DPAP, Jan 2017
- OTA Resources, DPAP
- Other Transaction Authority, Air Force Transformational Innovation
- Innovation in Contracting, DPAP
- Speed and Agility – How DoD Acquisition Can Enable Innovation and Rapid Technology Insertion, Briefing, MITRE, May 2016
- Future Foundry, CNAS, Dec 2016
- Leveraging Commercial Technology (Mobility), CNAS, Dec 2016
- The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle, National Academies of Science, 2016
- 12 Months In – 8 Months Left An Update on Secretary Carter’s Innovation Agenda, CNAS, Apr 2016
- Innovation is a Contract Sport, Booz Allen Hamilton, Feb 2016
- Global R&D Funding Forecast
- National R&D – Gov’t vs Industry
- Keeping the Technological Edge (Briefing, Report, Video, CSIS, Sep 2015
- NDIA Pathway to Transformation, Nov 2014. Three recommendation themes:
- Providing authority to decision makers and holding them accountable for their decisions
- Matching the resources invested in the Defense Acquisition System to the requirements placed upon it, and vice versa
- Making decisions about how to design the Defense Acquisition System based on data and evidence
- Presentation on Innovation and Private Sector, Defense Business Board, Jul 2014
- Innovation and Private Sector Report, Defense Business Board, Jul 2014
- Defense R&E Strategy, ASD R&E, May 2014
- Rapid Acquisition of Army C2 Systems, RAND, 2014
- Technology and Innovation Enablers for Superiority in 2030, Defense Science Board (DSB), Oct 2013
- Public Private Collaboration in the DoD, Defense Business Board, 2012
- Rapid Acquisition and Fielding of Materiel Solutions by the Navy, DoD IG, 2009
- Bridging the Valley of Death, Tony Davis, Tom Ballenger, Jan 2017
- When and When Not to Accelerate Acquisition, Frank Kendall, Nov 2016
- Intel Community joining DoD in Silicon Valley, Breaking Defense, May 2016
- SOFWERX: Newest Acquisition Tool for Special Operators, National Defense Magazine, May 2016
- Forget Technology. The Real Military Edge Comes From Promoting Smart People, Defense One, May 2016
- Amazon Cracks Code on How to Attract Innovators to Federal Market, National Defense Magazine, May 2016
- The US Needs More Weapons That Can Be Quickly and Easily Modified, Defense One, Apr 2016
- As Pentagon Dawdles, Silicon Valley Sells Its Newest Tech Abroad, Defense One, Apr 2016
- Three Ways to Judge the Pentagon’s Tech-Sector Outreach, Defense One, Apr 2016
- Google Executive Schmidt To Head New DoD Advisory Board, Defense News, Mar 2016
- Veil of secrecy lifted on Pentagon office planning ‘Avatar’ fighters and drone swarms (SCO), Washington Post, Mar 2016
- New Navy Procurement Office (MACO), Marines to Push Rapid Innovation In 2016, USNI News, Mar 2016
- Accelerating Innovation By Breaking Up Contracts: SBIR & Beyond, Breaking Defense, Feb 2016
- DoD’s top research official (Steve Welby) is bridging gap with Silicon Valley, Fed News Radio, Feb 2016
- DHS Opens Silicon Valley Office in Search of Innovation, National Defense Magazine, Feb 2016
- Beyond Offset – A series that aims to build a community-of-interest that will address the challenges of maintaining America’s competitive edge in military technology and advance solutions.
- Faster Than Thought: DARPA, Artificial Intelligence, & The Third Offset Strategy, Breaking Defense, Feb 2016
- Secretive SOCOM Opens Up to Private Sector, National Defense Magazine, Jan 2016
- Is the US Military’s Plan to Keep Its Edge Fatally Flawed?, Robert Haddick, War on the Rocks, Jan 2016
- Navy to Try Fast Acquisition Approach, Breaking Defense, Jan 2016
- Navy Building New Office to Short Circuit Traditional DoD Acquisition Approach, FedNewsRadio, Jan 2016
- R&D strategy leverages innovation, partnerships, Wright Patt AFB news, Jan 2016
- DOD Head Ashton Carter Enlists Silicon Valley to Transform the Military, Wired, Nov 2015
- America’s Victory Disease Has Left It Dangerously Deluded, War on the Rocks, Nov 2015
- Centaur Army: Bob Work, Robotics, & The Third Offset Strategy, Breaking Defense, Nov 2015
- Defense Innovation Initiative Burdened by High Expectations, National Defense Magazine, Nov 2015
- It is Time for the US Military to Innovate Like Insurgents, War on the Rocks, Oct 2015
- Carter Seeks Balance of Old, New Innovation, Sep 2015
- Fast Track Program Invites Non-Traditional Roboticists to Help Bolster National Security, DARPA, May 2015
- Fast Paced Technologies Passing by Military’s Acquisition Culture, DoD Buzz, Mar 2015
- Rapid Acquisition Groups Break Mold of Slower Pentagon Procurement System, National Defense Magazine, Jan 2015
- Top 10 Disruptive Technologies for a New Era of Global Instability, National Defense Magazine, Nov 2014
- A New Defense Innovation Base, War on the Rocks, Aug 2014
- Hacking Defense: Changing How DoD Innovates, War on the Rocks, Jun 2014
- Build Fast, Effective Acquisition: Avoid The System We’ve Got, Breaking Defense, Apr 2014
- “Special Forces” Innovation: How DARPA Attacks Problems, HBR, Oct 2013
- Quick Wins Show the Benefits of DOD’s Rapid Acquisition Program, Federal News Radio, Jun 2012
- CSIS Assessing Third Offset Strategy – Defense Innovation, Oct 2016
- Executing on Acquisition Innovation, CNAS, Dec 2016
- House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Hearing: Acquisition Reform: Experimentation and Agility, Jan 2016 with three SAEs as witnesses.
- Reagan National Defense Forum, Simi Valley, CA, Nov 2015
- CNAS National Security Forum, Dec 2015
- AFRL Commercialization Catalyst, 4 Dec 15 in Dayton, OH. The event featured presentations on a dozen AFRL technologies as candidates for entrepreneurial investment to commercial markets.
- Frank Kendall remarks at Defense Innovation Days, Aug 2015 – Key ingredients: knowledge, freedom, risk tolerance, persistence, collaboration, and capital.