Other Transactions: What are the Opportunities and Challenges?

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Other Transactions (OTs) present both an opportunity and a challenge for the federal government and contractors. To get a clearer picture of OTs and their role in the government contracting ecosystem, we reached out to the expert, Dr. Dolores Kuchina-Musina, Chief Disruptor and the Founder of REXOTA Solutions.

What is one thing you want everyone to know about OT Authorities (OTAs)?

The first thing I want people to know is the beauty of OTAs – they unleash your ability to think creatively. Each authority is different and written to provide discretion to the agencies using them. Naturally, most of us dread the idea of seeing a contract (agreement in this instance), and what makes OTs so unique is that the resultant agreement is drafted with the intent for the two parties to work together in either a cooperative or collaborative way.

What pitfalls should the industry be aware of when considering an OT?

The biggest pitfall that I see industry (and government) make is wanting to have an OT agreement because “they are so hot right now” and not because it is needed for a particular purpose. The amount of oversight that Congress has on OTs and the need to understand their effectiveness should make people realize how important it is to protect these authorities. We can best protect them by using them for the intended purposes.

What can companies do to position themselves for an OT agreement? Who shouldn’t pursue OTs at all?

Companies, organizations, and people who should not pursue an OT are the ones who are doing so to say they have an OT agreement. Capture Managers who position their organization should know the different acquisition pathways they can use and how to leverage those pathways. This includes explicitly targeting a specific agency and understanding what statutes, regulations, and policies apply to that agency.

If OTs are part of the plan, the company should understand what funding they need and, at a minimum, their six-month plan – at least in their research and development (R&D) efforts or beyond. Innovation and product development are not linear processes, so it’s ok if plans change. But you must have some strategy, plan, and data to use taxpayer money appropriately.

What questions do you frequently get about OTs, and how do you answer them?

This one is tough, so I will give the top two…

  1. How many authorities are there? The total number of authorities has increased by about 30% since 2019. There are now more than 30 separate and distinct statutory other transaction authorities written into law and made available to 36 agencies. The single largest user of OTAs is the U.S. Department of Defense.
  2. Do I have to go through a consortium to get an OT? No, a company can get an OT directly from the agency.

What should contractors do when an agency references outdated policies in an agreement? Is it appropriate to bring up during negotiations, or is this a much larger issue that needs to be addressed on the agency’s executive level?

Like any negotiation, you should ask questions or comment on the clauses that are not applicable or incorrect. Having excellent negotiation skills is paramount in building strong relationships. Even if the language doesn’t change, you have documentation for your contract file if a dispute or concern needs to be resolved.

Hint: keeping an accurate and complete contract file is a best practice for any organization. Tracking your negotiations and including them in your file is essential.

What are the benefits of an OT over more common avenues of simplified acquisition?

Remember, OTs are a tool that should be used when appropriate. When looking at your acquisition pathways, OTs should be leveraged when the effort requires more flexibility, cooperation/collaboration and is for the applicable purpose. You can stack authorities and get creative along the way – the key is understanding the tools in your toolkit and knowing what to use them for. Sure, a hammer can work for a nail and a screw, but will it give you the results you want?

If the dinocorn could grant you three wishes, what would you change about OTAs as they currently exist?

OOOH! This is a great question…

  1. Better data and reporting that is publicly available. I would love to test my model on other authorities and see what exciting data points I can discover.
  2. More success stories highlighting how OTs played a role in improving our everyday. Whether it is the COVID-19 vaccine or supporting space travel, we need those stories.
  3. There is less hype when something in the OT universe goes wrong. Whenever a protest or IG report occurs, people are ready to poke holes. I am thankful that OTAs are like Flubber and continue to evolve and stay positive.

Want to talk OTs? Contact GSA National! 

To learn more about how REXOTA Solutions can help you transform your acquisition culture, contact Dr. Dolores Kuchina-Musina at dkuchinamusina@rexota.com.

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