There is a lack of reliable data from the Pentagon to prove that the agency’s use of Other Transaction Authority to escalate development and acquisition of new technologies is effective, according to a new congressional analysis. The Congressional Research Service released its assessment report on Friday highlighting a “questionable reliability” of available data from the Department of Defense on how it manages OTA.
The think tank said the findings raised concerns that Congress wants to explore due to numerous risks, including diminished oversight and exemptions from laws and regulations that should protect the government and taxpayers. In fiscal year 2017, OTA deals covered $2.1B of DoD’s worth $320B contracts.
Looking at DoD's previous OTA-based deals, CRS said the agency has failed to properly monitor and track data on the use of the authority, particularly how long it commonly takes to complete a transaction. The Pentagon “lacks authoritative data that can be used to assess OTA effectiveness,” CRS analysts said. The Army was the largest user of OTA among other service branches. The service released more than 66 percent of planned OTAs from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2017.
Congress expects the defense community to continue to expand the use of the transaction authority.