OTA Offers Big Benefits...If You Know How to Use It

Other Transaction Authorities (OTA) were created to provide selected agencies the flexibility necessary to adopt and incorporate business practices reflecting commercial industry standards and best practices into its award instruments. OTA allows for rapid procurement from non-traditional contractors without FAR-based competition.

Although the provision of OTA has been around for decades, it has generally been underutilized until the last few years. Why? Only 11 federal agencies have statutory authority to use it, and, not surprisingly, there is a general lack of familiarity, outside of the Department of Defense (DOD), about its benefits and appropriate use. Let’s take a look at some specific examples.

OTA Expedites Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

A recent example of the application of the OTA provision relates to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which addresses the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on the nation. Among the CARES Act’s many provisions is a gateway for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to issue a broad agency announcement by which OTAs can facilitate partnerships with private sector companies for research and development during this public health emergency.

In this case, OTA has provided a way to accelerate efforts to support the manufacturing, production, and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and small molecule active pharmaceutical ingredients related to COVID-19.

GAO Reports Increased Use of OTA in DOD Prototype Projects

A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that the DOD has successfully used the flexibility offered by OTAs to entice innovative companies that had not traditionally done business with DOD to participate in prototype projects. Although there were a couple of awards that should have had higher levels of review before award, the overall results of this practice appear to be positive. Internal controls will be adjusted accordingly to ensure the continued success of this application of the OTA provision.

Knowledge Check

These are just a couple of recent examples that provide a glimpse into the benefits OTAs can offer. How much do you know about the advantages OTAs offer or how they can be used? Here are some fast facts:


While this list reveals many of the benefits offered by Other Transaction Authority, it does not provide the comprehensive understanding needed to use it. Lucky for you, we offer a class that does.

Are there any other topics you would like to see covered on our blog? We’d love to hear from you.

Written by:
Natalie Komitsky
Acquisition & Contracting
Media Type:

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