The Department of Defense (DoD) aims to streamline the prototype acquisition process by granting approval and management authority to a slew of additional department heads for the duration of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The changes apply to contracts granted through other transaction authority (OTA), the subset of DoD contracting projects related to prototypes, research, and production projects. Ellen Lord, under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, explained the new processes to department leaders in an April 6 memo.

OTA project agreements and production contracts in excess of $100 million can now be approved by directors of the Defense Agencies/Field Activities with contracting authority, commanding officers of Combatant Commands with contracting authority, and the director of the Defense Innovation Unit.

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Senior procurement executives or their directors have been designative approval authority for OTA prototype actions in between $100 million and $500 million.

For OTA projects exceeding $500 million, senior procurement executives of the military departments, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the director of the Missile Defense Agency have been granted approval authority.

According to the memo, DoD has also relaxed its 30-day advance notification to congressional defense committees requirement for coronavirus-related OTAs over $500 million. The under secretary of defense for research and engineering or the under secretary of defense for acquisition can now submit congressional notification “as soon as practicable after the commencement of such a transition.”

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.