How DUIx gets cutting-edge tech so fast

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How DUIx gets cutting-edge tech so quickly

What: The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental released a how-to guide so that Defense organizations can use  the “other transactions” (OT) option to quickly acquire cutting-edge technology from nontraditional vendors.  

Why:  By showing other DOD components how to take advantage of the flexible nature of OTs and design a process that meets their particular mission, DIUx aims to include more nontraditional vendors in a flexible, collaborative process.

Findings:  The Commercial Solutions Opening acquisition mechanism allows DIUx to solicit innovative solutions to DOD and warfighter-specific problems. The solutions are awarded as prototype projects or OTs, which are subject to fewer regulations than tradition acquisitions.

DIUx provided 11 general guiding principles that all DOD participants, customers and acquisition and contracting teams should adopt to successfully execute OTs.

  1. Teams: Build a collaborative team with officers familiar with OTs, technical experts familiar with the technology being developed, business people and the warfighters themselves.

  2. Market research: Meet nontraditional communities on their terms with design processes that matches the intended marketplace.

  3. Acquisition planning: Use collaborative project design as opposed to the traditional waterfall approach to defense acquisition.

  4. Competition: To remain transparent and fair, use flexible, competitive practices, such as creative merit-based competitions.

  5. Funding: Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funds are appropriate for prototype OTs, but funding can be re-examined a case-by-case basis.

  6. Cost sharing: Creative cost sharing can be used to finance and develop projects.

  7. Clauses and negotiations: Send a basic OT agreement to potential contractors for review, but all terms and conditions of OTs are negotiable and can change based on the project.

  8. Payment milestones: Work with companies to establish the best payment methods for the project outcome with the right funding.

  9. Decision points and modifications: If all the resources required to execute a full project are unavailable, consider agile development in which portions of the project are funded for a set price. 

  10. Data rights and intellectual property: Be open to flexible intellectual property clauses but clearly identify the data rights with each prototype to make sure all parties are on the same page.

  11. Follow-on production: DOD is authorized to award follow-on contracts or transactions without “re-competing the work,” and DIUx can help design and procure these contracts.

More: Read the full report here.  

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a Reporter/Producer for GCN.

Prior to joining 1105 Media, Ziadeh was a contributing journalist for USA Today Travel's Experience Food and Wine site. She's also held a communications assistant position with the University of Maryland Office of the Comptroller, and has reported for the American Journalism Review, Capitol File Magazine and DC Magazine.

Ziadeh is a graduate of the University of Maryland where her emphasis was multimedia journalism and French studies.

Click here for previous articles by Ms. Ziadeh or connect with her on Twitter: @aziadeh610.


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