Breaking Down OTAs in Government Contracting

Other Transaction Authority (OTA), also referred to as Other Transactions (OTs), are procurement methods other than contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements. They allow flexible business arrangements to obtain research and development to support technology advancement or to quickly develop a prototype outside of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). In other words, OTAs are a way for small businesses to work with the government without dealing with red tape.

OTA Details

OTA prototype contracts can be up to $250 million in value and can be fixed-price, expenditure-based, or hybrid. Additionally, they:

  • Must use a nontraditional defense contractor,
  • Have all participants be small businesses,
  • Or, have at least a third of its total cost paid by parties other than the government.

Agencies must be authorized by Congress to use OTs and government Contracting Officers must have Agreement Officer authority to award OTs. The following federal agencies currently have Congressional authorization for OTs, but there are specific OT requirements, limitations, and restrictions for each agency:

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of Energy (DOE)
  • Human Health Services (HHS)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO)
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Why OTAs?

OTAs have become a core element of the Department of Defense’s approach to technology and acquisition. DoD OTA obligations increased 75% in fiscal year 2019 and have increased 712% since fiscal year 2015. Why? Congress has been giving the Department of Defense OTAs to allow the Pentagon to take more risks in acquisition and fail before money is spent building a whole program.

Overall, OTAs are becoming more popular in government contracting and an increase in these opportunities could occur in the coming years.

Where can I find OTAs or Research and Development (R&D) opportunities?

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) R&D uses the Federal Contract Opportunities website at SAM.gov to post their opportunities using Broad Agency Announcements (BAA). More information on how to find these opportunities can be found on the DLA website.

Everything You Need to Know About Cold Chain Packaging

Cold chain packaging is a system of packaging and shipping goods maintaining a consistent temperature from manufacture to final destination. JetCo Federal has developed relationships with manufacturers to supply off the shelf cold chain solutions for sale and lease, but our expertise is in custom cold chain packaging design. We can provide the full range of cold chain logistics, from packaging to conditioning to shipping.

We began developing these capabilities as a part of a strategic plan to supply more specialty packaging, but the pandemic accelerated those plans when existing clients began asking us to consult on packaging solutions for the vaccine. We are currently working with the government domestically and abroad to support the supply chain for vaccinating service members.

Types of Cold Chain Packaging

There are three types of cold chain packaging: Active, Passive, and Hybrid.

  • Active Packaging
    • Does not use phase change materials (PCM) such as water/ice or dry ice.
    • To maintain proper product temperatures, active systems use mechanical or electric systems powered by an energy source, combined with thermostatic control.
    • Typically highest cost.
    • Highest temperature accuracy.
    • High reliability.
    • Typically easy to use.
  • Passive Packaging
    • Uses PCM and is the most basic and cost-effective shipping system.
    • Lowest cost and lowest temperature accuracy.
    • High reliability with proper procedures.
    • Requires PCM conditioning.
    • Typically the hardest to use.
  • Hybrid Packaging
    • Uses a combination of PCM and thermostatic control.
    • PCM are used as an energy source that is regulated by some type of thermostatic control.
    • Moderate to high cost and moderate to high temperature accuracy.
    • Moderate reliability with proper procedures.
    • Requires PCM conditioning.

The most common types of refrigerants are dry ice, gel packs, gel bricks, phase change material (PCM), and EPS panels (expanded polystyrene or styrofoam). This type of packaging is important to ensure safe transport of pharmaceuticals, such as the COVID-19 vaccine.

How Businesses Rely on Cold Chain Packaging

Businesses in the pharmaceutical, medical and food industries are increasingly relying on cold chain packaging. Food products (such as produce, meats, and frozen food) and medical products (such as vaccines, blood, and insulin) are the most common items that utilize insulated shipping products. The quality of food and medical products degrades with time since they maintain chemical reactions, which can be mostly mitigated with lower temperatures. It takes time and coordination to move a shipment efficiently, and every delay can have negative consequences to the product.

Having a company that has expertise in not only the packaging, but in conditioning, storage, and transport is critical. We have a national network of partners who support these functions, not just local or regional partners. Additionally, our experience working with mission-critical products in high-compliance environments makes us uniquely positioned to execute in this space.

There is a high demand and low supply for these products, making it essential to have a partner who can deliver. At JetCo Federal, we embrace challenges and want to win, every single day. Whether it’s a demanding contract or thorny sourcing problem, our team delivers on time and on budget.

Interested in learning more about our cold chain packaging solutions? Talk to our team today.