What is an OTA?

The Department of Defense has many procurement authorities to procure the goods, services, equipment, and systems it requires. Most of the authorities require adhering to Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). There are some non-FAR authorities focused on research and development, which allow more streamlined procurement processes. Other Transaction Authority (OTA) is one of these.

Focusing Research

The OTA is a procurement authority that allows the government to enter into agreements with non-traditional defense contractors, such as small businesses, research institutions, and nonprofit organizations.

Streamlining Acquisition

The OTA can bypass certain Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requirements, which can speed up the acquisition process and make it more flexible.

Accelerating R&D and Prototyping

The OTA can be used for prototyping, research and development, and follow-on production.

Driving Innovation

The procurement vehicle is used for projects that are innovative, Medium to High-risk, or have a short timeline.

Enhancing Collaboration

The tool can be beneficial for both the government and contractors, as they can be faster and more flexible for the development and acquisition of new technologies and capabilities.

Benefits of the OTA

An Other Transaction Consortia Model, such as the one UTIC manages, enhances collaboration opportunities between government, industry, and academia in focused technology domain areas. The OTA Consortium model also enables open communications between all parties involved including the government. Lastly, the OTA Consortium allows industry and academia to collaborate with the government on prototyping solutions for emerging technology, dual-use technology application, and commercialization of new technology.

OTA Technology Focus Areas

The Undersea Technology Innovation Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) cites 25 technology areas of interest in the undersea and maritime domain. UTIC members are eligible to bid on related prototype technology projects in support of national defense missions. A description of each technology area follows:

Sensors: Technology that detects and responds to some input from the physical environment that could include light, heat, motion, moisture, radiation, pressure, or any one of a great number of other environmental phenomena. The output is generally a signal that is converted to human-readable display or control at the sensor location or transmitted electronically over a network for reading or further processing. Sonar: Technology employing sound waves to detect and locate objects, especially submerged in water, using echolocation/reflection.

Identify, explore, and apply new technologies, methods and techniques in the fields of systems engineering, design engineering, software engineering, logistics engineering, and test and evaluation to integrate new and existing systems into ships, submarines and other maritime platforms. The other platforms may include unmanned and remotely operated vehicles, as they become smaller and operate in new ways such as swarming, self-learning and autonomous modes.

Technology that pertains to integrated undersea weapons systems that typically combine combat management, command and control/decision systems and fire/weapon control systems that include advanced computer and radar technology to locate, track, identify and guide weapons to destroy enemy targets.

Technology pertaining to transmitting and receiving information and data among intended parties.

Identify, explore, and apply new technologies, methods, techniques and concepts for capturing, storing, manipulating and presenting images of the undersea and maritime environment, including geographical characteristics, vehicles, targets, structures, or similar surface images which could be useful to an undersea warfare decision maker.

Development and prototyping of products, hardware, and software/open systems that create an “undersea or maritime internet of things and sensors,” that can be connected to and work with any warfighting domain (air, surface, undersea, cyber, spectrum), or public-sector domain. Technology which allows multiple systems to operate over a distributed network, typically with shared communications and distributed processing.

Electronics: The electronic devices, circuits or systems developed through electronics that can be utilized in the undersea and maritime environment. Optics: technology behind the genesis, propagation, sight and behavior of electromagnetic light, and the changes it undergoes and produces; includes the properties of transmission and deflection of other forms of radiation. Materials: Substance(s) or matter from which things are made or composed for the undersea and maritime environment.

Technology that pertains to detecting and responding to some type of input from the physical environment through detecting and gathering of target data from vibrations, light, radiation, heat, or other phenomena in the subject’s environment (versus active sensors which include transmitters that send out a signal, a light wavelength or electrons to be bounced off the target, with data gathered by the sensor upon their reflection.)

Technology to enable the use of state-of-the-art satellite capabilities (today used for communication, networking, data distribution, weather, intelligence, control and command functions, etc., for military and civilian use) for undersea functions and applications.

Development and prototyping of hardware and software components and systems that collect, produce, and store energy and manage its distribution in a maritime or undersea environment. Generally, these technologies, products and applications will guarantee availability of power – any-time, any-place, and in any quantity with sufficient power density and capacity, energy duration and cycle-life.

Technology that enables the creation of a virtual resource that behaves/operates like the actual version of something. An emulation of the real system that performs a function just like the real system.

Development, demonstration, and exploitation of technologies, algorithms, and methods that expand the ability of a computer to learn from data, other computers, or sensors, without human intervention. Machine Learning computers can improve themselves from data, knowledge, experience and interaction with other computers. A computer with machine learning capabilities will use elements of statistics, knowledge science, computer science/systems, natural language processing, large database construction and management, and planning and control to improve its ability to suggest or predict outcomes of situations.

Development and prototyping of products (hardware, software, systems) that can assist the maritime or undersea warfare commander in continuously assessing and analyzing threats, predicting threat levels, and identifying unexpected threats, as a function of sensor data, intelligence data, open source data, operational data, and human interactions.

Technology enabling a shortened kill chain; adaptive systems and technologies to outpace the threat; and virtual environment for modeling and simulation and training.

Development, demonstration and exploitation of technologies and prototypes to: (a) analyze future USW concepts based on current and emerging undersea warfare technological and operational direction; (b) develop and conduct analytical modeling and simulation of undersea warfare (USW) mission effectiveness; (c) analyze USW systems and their performance; (d) evaluate at-sea exercises through detailed reconstruction; and (e) evaluate intelligence information for implications in USW research and development.

Development of software prototypes, processes, and systems, that provide maritime and undersea warfare decision makers with capabilities to evaluate and develop inferences from “Big Data.” Big data are large amounts data from multiple sources (domains) which may seem ostensibly disconnected. The sources for this data, for example could include and are not limited by — data from undersea, surface, and air sensors, data from intelligence, data from internal and external operating environments, data from simulation exercises, and data from real world exercises. Technology should be able to relate, blend and combine data from difference categories and sources that exhibit different behaviors and demands for processing and analysis techniques, addressing data inhomogeneity and variable data sourcing.

Identify, explore, and apply new technologies, methods and techniques that use the electromagnetic spectrum to attack enemy capabilities, protect our capabilities, and enhance electronic warfare – signal intelligence – electronic intelligence – communications and cyber operations.

A network of sensors that operate without outside control or human interface, and are capable of working independently.

Technology pertaining to weaponry that operates in or from the undersea environment. Also, a category of vehicles that operate without outside control or human interface, and are capable of operating independently.

Technology, processes, products, algorithms, or hardware that enables accomplishment of a mission without human involvement, or with varying and limited human involvement based on sensory feedback.

Development, demonstration, and exploitation of technologies that use the principles and laws of quantum physics and mechanics to process information.

Sensing devices, processes, products, networks, and supporting algorithms that are modeled and developed based on the knowledge of all living things and their environments, from the atomic level to the entire biosphere.

Technology that enables continuous analysis, assessment, review of environmental data collected from all sources. Includes the probability-based anticipation/speculation of a certain environmental state occurring, based on this data and analysis.

Prototype products, hardware, algorithms, systems that enable the collection, storage and reuse of energy that would be found and that exist naturally in the undersea and maritime environment such as waves, tides, etc. These technologies might be based on energy sources including, wave energy, ocean current energy, pressure or thermal difference sensing, chemical conversion, solar, and wind or combinations of these and others, and provide energy from nano- to macro-levels.

Display technology that utilizes numerous dimensions for better depiction, visualization and knowledge transfer. Prototype products, hardware, algorithms, or systems that enable the display of undersea warfare target, environmental, situational, operational, tactical, strategic, and other data in standard 2- and 3-dimensional formats (projections on a 2-dimensional surface), and offer opportunities for the additional dimensions and configurations. These additional dimensions might make use of dynamic 3-dimensional formats (sometimes called 4d), polychromatic techniques, multiple screens, special optics, holographic techniques, or combinations of these and other technologies.

OTA Events

Twice a year, UTIC, in collaboration with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport holds an Industry Day to discuss upcoming Government technology prototype needs.