Congress Says Get Educated on Other Transactions, Again!

posted in: Podcast | 0
Share this:

In this episode Strategic Institute discusses the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in regard to acquisition for R&D, and specifically the report language, “strongly encouraging” DoD to educate the workforce in flexible acquisition authorities – other transactions.

Other Transactions are acquisition authorities for federal R&D that permit and can enable the #disruption and #innovation that is commensurate with the frequently heard rhetoric.  There is nothing that is potentially more game-changing than Other Transactions and related authorities for innovating federal business processes to more effectively deliver the fruits of R&D efforts; which has been in dire straights for generations and is characterized by slowness and waste.  Dysfunction in the system has become normalized and inculcated in the minds of many.  The status-quo is protected institutionally, nonetheless it is dysfunctional and corrupt.  This is a real shame since just about everyone knows substantial change and real improvement is needed, like, yesterday.  Instead of staying stuck in the past, the mindset must be allowed to progress and professionals need to innovate at least at “the speed of relevance.”   We can do even better, if leadership gets on board and supports education and updating the mindset.  Why is the thinking around this subject so limited, constrained, and lackluster?  Shouldn’t we aim higher than incremental change, which is just sucking less and making excuses?  The federal government has highly flexible, broad, remedial acquisition authorities to experiment with and prototype a variety of business approaches and arrangements to see what works.  Instead of supporting the workforce and industry with education, leaders are content misunderstanding and using the authorities to suit business-as-usual.

Unfortunately, this business-as-usual, myth, lore, and ignorance drive much of the conversations surrounding federal acquisition for R&D.  The business of R&D is an intellectual activity, it is drastically different from the delivery of goods and services.  The knowledge, value, and advancement gained is quantifiably different.  For R&D, make contracting a verb again – dynamic.  Explore the flexibility and learn and conceive of new approaches to business and getting it done. That is what they are there for, not to be put in a box.

It has been FIVE years since Congress mandated that DoD get “management, technical, and contracting personnel” educated and supported by continuous and experiential learning opportunities.  This has been ignored from the top-down.  Congress, in 2023 committee report, emphasized this again, but added attorneys to the list.

With absolutely nothing to lose and so much potentially to be gained, while complying with the law, one has to ask, “why is top defense acquisition leadership against OT education?”

A journey of thousand miles starts with the first step.  That step is education.


we strongly encourage the Department to invest in continuous and experiential education for management, technical, and contracting personnel, as well as attorneys, to understand how to effectively and innovatively use other transaction authority and explore flexible means to achieve mission results more quickly and with more value added.” - HASC committee report