Other Transaction Authority (“OTA”) describes the streamlined procedures that federal agencies may use to procure innovative research or prototypes, without the constraints of a typical contract, grant, or cooperative agreement. This flexibility has made OTA an increasingly popular choice for federal acquisitions in recent years. OTA helps open the door for contractors to partner with the Government in new and exciting areas. OTA allows for much greater speed, flexibility, and accessibility in performing research and prototype projects.
Who Qualifies for Agreements under OTA?
Congressional legislation has granted OTA to five federal departments: The Departments of Defense (DoD), Energy (DOE), Health and Human Services (HHS), Homeland Security (DHS), and Transportation (DOT), as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Congress has also specifically extended OTA to certain agencies and programs within these departments, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA, within DOT), the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E, within DOE), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA, within DHS), the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO, also within DHS), and certain National Institute of Health research programs (within HHS).
This authority gives the agencies the opportunity to craft procurement arrangements specifically targeted to novel ideas and technologies, without having to shoehorn the process into the complex and often arcane world of traditional government contracting.