Even before the end of I/ITSEC 2021, the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) team was already thinking about how they could improve a process. If they saw a concept on the floor they felt could meet a need for the Fleet – a technology or capability — how could they rapidly get it on contract to further evaluate whether it met that objective?

“Since the last I/ITSEC, this was percolating in our heads as to how to do this,” said Kent Gritton, NAWCTSD’s director of special projects and Navy’s I/ITSEC Principal. “We had been going through a lot of different concepts and we came across using an Other Transaction Authority (OTA), which moves things very rapidly. We scheduled it so that the period of time that we will accept white papers for the initiative, coincides with what we’re doing at I/ITSEC.”

On Monday, Oct. 3, the Naval Aviation Systems Consortium issued a request for white papers (RWP) on behalf of NAWCTSD, the first step in helping them find a solution for speeding up the ability to get capabilities to the Fleet. White papers for the Broad Announcement for Training and Simulation offers businesses up to $100,000 per award, with an estimated delivery date of their prototype 6-8 months after the award.

The hope is that if NAWCTSD sees something at I/ITSEC they’d like to know more about, they can ensure those people know about the OTA Broad Announcement and how to submit a white paper.

“Now they have a vehicle by which they can get evaluated and potentially we can rapidly award something that we see on the show floor,” said Gritton. “But the beauty of this is it doesn’t have to only be at I/ITSEC because the call for white papers is open now, and will continue to be all the way through I/ITSEC.”

Plus, Gritton said, that while they are doing the presentations at I/ITSEC, it is not a requirement to register and attend I/ITSEC in order to be a part of this effort. “We’re in a room at the convention center, but it’s in a publicly accessible area. We are setting up a TEAMS meeting in there so that if the offerors are not at I/ITSEC, they can present virtually.”

He said this set up also allows any subject matter experts (SMEs) to participate in the presentations if they are not attending I/ITSEC. “It was a conscious effort to make sure that while we want to take advantage of I/ITSEC, it’s not a prerequisite for being part of this whole process.”

A Special Notice about the OTA is posted on Sam.Gov, which directs interested parties to NAVAIR’s Naval Aviation Systems Consortium (NASC), and they’re already getting inputs from people who have reviewed it and are interested in applying because they believe they have a concept that works.

“We’re trying to keep the submission process simple,” explained Gritton, “starting with getting the requirement information in, just so we can get as many of these potential white papers submitted and then very quickly and easily, evaluate them to see which ones make sense going forward for actual awards.”

This part of the OTA is important to Gritton and his team because a lot of smaller companies, which includes what’s known to some as the “non-traditionals,” maybe don’t have the know-how or the resources to complete what’s normally required for a request for white paper.

“But that’s why we wanted to keep white paper submissions to a maximum of three pages,” he said. “It’s very simple from the standpoint of just being able to get the information forward, before moving into the process.” The first step begins with meeting all the right criteria, which Gritton said is just a check on whether they followed the instructions, like did they keep it to three pages or go over.

The next step in the three-step process, is a down-select of the submissions to determine which group – if any – are invited to present their topic. The evaluations of the white papers are done by SMEs who will determine how well the paper addresses a unique approach, advances state of the art technology, or reflects the level of maturity to address the sub-topic areas.  Those showing the greatest degree of promise enter the third and final step, which is being invited to present their proposal and discuss their concept, technology or capability with the SMEs.  Upon selection of an offeror based upon a white paper and presentation, the NAWCTSD team will work collaboratively with each offeror to establish requirements for which a proposal can be submitted prior to award of an OT.

And if they have a capability/technology that can be applied to more than one of the areas, companies can (and should) submit multiple papers on the same capability and how it can impact that area of concern. If the concept applies to several areas, it is important to apply to them all because not all of these requests are from the same command and each area is treated individually.

Here are the capability gaps identified by the Navy and for which they are seeking capabilities, technologies and/or concepts:

  • Immersive training environments
    1. Rapidly deployable and ruggedized mobile immersive training environment for VR/AR applications.
    2. Full spectrum of Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations to support mounted/dismounted operations in the immersive training environment; or
    3. Full spectrum of ground vehicle and system maintenance training to ground system maintenance training courseware enabled within a 3D virtual environment to enhance critical thinking/decision making, and associated instructor/student courseware.
  • Simulated weapons
    1. Sensor based (i.e., optical, RF, etc.) simulated weapons in support of Force-on-Force training; or
    2. Simulated battery-powered small arms weapons with realistic look, feel, and recoil characteristics.
  • Marksmanship
    1. Near real time scoring/reporting/visualization of rifle marksmanship training with accuracy tolerance of 12mm or less; or
    2. Individual and collective marksmanship training with focus on enhancing proficiency, confidence, and lethality.
  • Game-based training
    1. Cloud based military leadership decision making games for individual and collective training on Government and private platforms.

“We have 30-minute blocks of presentation time set up at I/ITSEC, so our plan is to do as many presentations as we can there,” Gritton said. “It’s not supposed to be like a formal proposal brief, it’s a chance to have more dialogue with the offerors to validate what the SMEs are interested in. Based on those presentations, the commands hosting the requirements will make the decision whether to move forward on an actual award or not.”

It’s important to note that although there is much hope and excitement for the capabilities and technologies that will be shared through this OTA, there is no requirement that an award will be extended, just the possibility.  But those that do get an award also receive the opportunity for a larger follow-on contract should the prototype be deemed appropriate for full development and/or production.

“It’s a trifecta – a classic win-win-win” said Gritton.  “Getting product into the hands of the Fleet quickly, casting a broader net to include the non-traditionals, and leveraging the power of I/ITSEC like we haven’t done before.”

OTAs are not new – NASA has been utilizing them for nearly 65 years. However, the usage has increased greatly since then, particularly in recent years. OTAs were created as a method of reaching nontraditional defense contractors that cannot or do not want to do business with the federal government. Although legally binding agreements, they are not subject to the federal laws and regulations governing procurement contracts – meaning they are not required to comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), its supplements, or most laws that apply to procurement contracts.

To register for the “Broad Announcement for Training and Simulation,” register at the Naval Aviation Systems Consortium (NASC) portal.

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