The term “Other Transaction Authority” (OTA) stems from statutory provisions that allow certain federal agencies to enter into transactions with commercial entities using nontraditional procurement methods and contract terms.

While OTAs have been used by NASA since 1958 and within the Department of Defense since 1989, they have experienced significant growth in recent years following expansion   under the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

In this report, authors Knudson, Soloway and Wroble address how OTAs have evolved over the last several decades; how different Defense agencies have used OTAs; what that experience teaches other agencies about using OTAs effectively; and the impact of OTAs on the COVID-19 vaccine initiative. The report also identifies key challenges for OTA use, including cybersecurity, workforce skills, and how OTAs enable production of public goods and services.

Throughout the analysis, the authors address key questions regarding OTAs, including:

  • To what extent do agencies use different strategies to award OTAs?
  • How effective are OTAs in achieving their stated goals of attracting new and. innovative solutions and providers to government?
  • To what extent do OTAs align with the tenets of public procurement?
  • How prepared are government agencies to utilize OTAs effectively?
    • How does the changing technology landscape impact the need for or value of OTAs?

The report concludes with findings and recommendations on how to improve OTAs, including how they can best be advanced as part of a larger procurement innovation landscape.

The report builds on the Center’s longstanding research on ways to improve public procurement, including Mobilizing Capital Investment to Modernize Government; Buying As One: Category Management Lessons from the United Kingdom; Beyond Business as Usual: Improving Defense Acquisition Through Better Buying Power; and Eight Actions to Improve Defense Acquisition.

We hope that this report provides government leaders and stakeholders with insights on how best to proceed with using OTAs to drive innovation and improve mission outcomes through government procurement.