In this episode Strategic Institute discusses the forthcoming DoD Other Transactions (OT) Guide that has been in the works for some time. The most recent 2018 OT Guide was developed by the Office for the Undersecretary of Defense, Acquisition and Sustainment. While it did not become a “living document” as intended, it is still very good. Use of OTs has seen a significant uptick since. Reportedly, a new guide has been cooking for a couple of years at Defense Pricing and Contracting, who as then DPAP, assembled previous versions of the OT guide in the 2000’s and 2010’s. During those periods OTs fell largely into disuse, and witnessed the birth of today’s popular, but not particularly thoughtful, consortia model.
The 2018 OT Guide was meant to evolve from learned experience, getting better with time and provide a go-to resource for a growing community. However, lack of adequate training and learning opportunities has severely limited experience, and there has been no rallying call. So, while possible contractual relationships, thus business approaches, have exponentially increased, this is subjected to stodgy conceptual thinking. Heads are not being lifted to see the horizons. Applying the same bureaucratic mindset to flexible and freeing acquisition authorities, meant remedy the dysfunction of a constipated system, is evidentially disastrous.
On the other hand, the new OT Guide could level-up and enable the innovation and improved business processes many are seeking. It could help readers to understand and explore the art-of-the possible. As of now, who knows? Champions are found in unexpected places.
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A few observations based on my experience at NPS for 25 years and having a lot to do with contracts and contractors. First, the issue you bring up of “fear” is crucial in DoD. Second, I used to say that of the DoD educational enterprise, which is huge, only NPS did education; that is no longer the case. Nobody in DoD does education. It is, at most, indoctrination into following the rules (whatever they might be). Third, as my sons and grandsons are in private enterprise, the federal pay cap is a huge disincentive for anybody to do anything that makes much sense. Lacking any kind of financial incentive, you end up with drones and losers. For academics, the federal cap wasn’t much of an issue as we are motivated by other concerns, such as learning and research and education. Now, the drones have taken over even at NPS and all the senior professors have left, and younger scholars leave as soon as a job opens up in a civilian university.