In this podcast episode Strategic Institute discusses the advantages of using appropriate contracts for federal R&D. Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FAR) contracts are inappropriate, per Part 35, which states FAR is procurement for acquiring goods and services. R&D and advancing new capabilities requires a totally different business model and strategies. If the federal government is serious about its work in R&D, why use contractual instruments that are inappropriate and chronically produce less than desirable results?
Having, using, and being skilled at applying the right tools for the job nearly always results in a better end-product with far less consternation. Anyone who has done mechanical or laborious work with the wrong tool knows how much better, faster, and easier the task becomes when the right tool is in hand and you know how to use it. The exact same principle is true for federal contracting for R&D.
If you have witnessed someone performing a task with the obviously wrong tool, you know how ridiculous it looks. However, if you have ever seen someone skilled using just the right tool for the job, it looks incredible. Think about the absurdity of sticking with an inappropriate tool, but expecting little adjustments to make significant improvement. The federal acquisition bureaucracy has been shaped using a single tool. You know the saying, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Bashing away, government and industry insiders appear truly confounded as to why the FAR-hammer works so poorly to facilitate and invigorate 21st century R&D.
At some level everyone involved knows that federal acquisition for R&D and delivering capabilities needs to be re-tooled and re-skilled. Other Transactions (OTs) authorities provide the appropriate contractual tools for federal R&D now. But there are no craftsmen and few teachers to proffer apprenticeship and knowledge. The generalized skill level is novice at best. The federal government has acknowledged and touched OTs, but has outsourced skill development to 3rd parties who have little interest or incentive in doing so. In reality, the sequence of events is simple: pick up the tool, learn how to use it, apply it, and pass knowledge along.
A simple razor to help you remember – If it’s R&D use an OT!