DARPA’s Contracts Management Office (CMO) has the authority to enter into and administer contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, and Other Transactions in pursuit of DARPA’s research and development mission. CMO’s role is to serve as DARPA’s acquisition advisor and make awards in select, critical technology areas. Most DARPA awards are entered into on behalf of the Agency by the military Services, who assist DARPA with technology transition to the warfighter.
To provide innovative acquisition and business solutions to meet DARPA's goal of advancing breakthrough technologies for national security
To be the premier leader in DoD Science and Technology acquisition, finding timely, ethical, and legally compliant solutions to the most complex challenges in executing DARPA's programs with traditional and non-traditional performers
Most of DARPA’s solicitations are for research and development and are accomplished through Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) announcing research interests, including criteria for selecting proposals and soliciting the participation of all offerors capable of satisfying the Government's needs. BAAs are a streamlined method used to advertise to and solicit contractors for DARPA research interests in certain program areas and are governed by FAR 6.102 and 35.016 and the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984. DARPA BAAs can be found at www.fbo.gov or www.grants.gov. For convenience, BAAs also appear on the Opportunities page of the DARPA website.
DARPA also uses Research Announcements (RA) when it intends to award only grants or cooperative agreements. DARPA RAs can be found at www.grants.gov.
Although less frequently used than BAAs and RAs, the Request for Proposals (RFP) is another solicitation method for FAR-based procurement contracts. RFPs comprise a formal competitive means of soliciting proposals in response to Government requirements for supplies and services in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold or where there is a common statement of work. DARPA RFPs can be found at www.fbo.gov.
Unsolicited proposals must adhere to the policies and procedures concerning the submission, receipt, evaluation, and acceptance or rejection of unsolicited proposals set forth in FAR 15.6.
The preferred method for submitting ideas and concepts to DARPA is to respond to a BAA in lieu of submitting unsolicited proposals. Open BAAs are available on the Federal Business Opportunities website: www.fbo.gov or the Grant Opportunities website: www.grants.gov.
Interested parties are encouraged to make preliminary contact with a DARPA Program Manager prior to submitting a proposal to gain insight into the general need for the type of effort contemplated. Because DARPA is composed of technical offices with varied responsibilities, preliminary contact will allow ultimate referral to the appropriate organization, saving considerable time and effort. This contact should not be considered as negotiations in contemplation of any contractual work for DARPA.
Companies with a competitively available product for DARPA consideration should not submit the product as an unsolicited proposal.
Grants and Cooperative Agreements
Grants and cooperative agreements with non-profit and educational institutions will be subject to the DoD Research and Development general terms and conditions, which can be found at:
DoD Research and Development General Terms and Conditions
Additionally, the following DARPA-specific terms and conditions will apply:
DARPA Agency-specific Terms and Conditions.
The two most common types of Other Transactions (OTs) are Technology Investment Agreements (TIAs) and Other Transactions for Prototypes (OTs for Prototypes).
When are OTs used?
Companies and organizations that do not often do business with the Government but have or are conducting research on technology that could have DoD applications are ideal candidates for OTs. Other entities, such as traditional defense contractors or universities, may also benefit from the use of OTs as an award vehicle under circumstances detailed below.
TIAs are typically used for when the primary goal of the agreement is to perform a research effort, even if items are required to be created to test the credibility of the research.
OTs for Prototypes are used when the main focus of the agreement is to create a prototype.
How are OTs different from FAR-based procurement contracts or grants and cooperative agreements?
FAR-based procurement contracts are governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the DoD supplement (DFARS); these awards include standard FAR and DFARS clauses and are subject to the FAR cost accounting standards.
Grants and cooperative agreements are governed by the cost principles and requirements in 2 C.F.R. 200 and any subsequent DoD regulation and DARPA specific terms and conditions, which will be included in all awards.
OTs are not subject to the FAR or applicable grant and cooperative agreement regulations, and the clauses in OT awards can be negotiated between the awardee and the Government. Further, OT awardees are not subject to the FAR cost accounting standards.
Because a TIA is not considered a procurement instrument, it is not subject to procurement regulations, such as the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) or any of its supplements. Instead, TIAs are used in accordance with 10 U.S.C. § 2371 and Part 37 of the DoD Grant and Agreement Regulations (DoDGARs). TIAs are assistance instruments used to stimulate or support research designed to (a) reduce barriers to commercial firm’s participating in defense research, to give the DoD access to the broadest possible technology and industrial base; (b) promote new relationships among performers in both the defense and commercial sectors of that technology and industrial base; and (c) stimulate performers to develop, use, and disseminate improved performance and contracting practices. As a matter of DoD policy, a TIA may be awarded only when one or more for-profit firms are to be involved either in the: (1) performance of the research project; or (2) the commercial application of the research results (i.e., commercial transition partner). In addition, the statute requires that, to the maximum extent practicable, the non-Federal parties carrying out a research project under a TIA are to provide at least half of the costs of the project. This statutory cost-sharing requirement is not absolute but legitimate issues with the cost-sharing requirement should include their clear and specific rationale for lessening this requirement of their proposal. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) apply rather than the FAR or DFARS cost principles or cost accounting standards.
OTs for Prototypes
The OT for Prototypes are governed by 10 U.S.C. § 2371b. This authority allows DARPA to use OTs for prototype projects directly relevant to enhancing the mission effectiveness of military personnel and the supporting platforms, systems, components, or materials proposed to be acquired or developed by the Department of Defense, or to improvement of platforms, systems, components, or materials proposed to be acquired or developed by the Department of Defense, or to improvement of platforms, systems, components, or materials in used by the Armed Forces.
Unlike the basic OT authority, OTs for Prototypes have unique additional requirements. Specifically, OTs for Prototypes require that there be at least one nontraditional defense contractor involved, or all significant participants in the transaction must be small businesses or nontraditional defense contractors. A non-traditional defense contractor is defined as an entity that is not currently performing or has not performed in the last one-year period any contract for the Department of Defense that is subject to full Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) coverage. If the proposing team is not composed of the required entities listed above, the team will be required to provide at least 1/3 cost share from their own funds, unless a case can be made for a waiver. Waivers are not common and will require significant justification. Notwithstanding these requirements, OTs for Prototypes offer significant flexibility that would allow for open negotiation of many agreement terms and conditions. DARPA is not required to include the traditional FAR and DFARS clauses in these arrangements but is free to negotiate provisions that are mutually agreeable to both the Government and the entity entering into the agreement.
The current version of the "Other Transactions Guide for Prototype Projects" can be found here.
Solicitation and Contracting Policy and Procedures
The following policy documents address issues relevant to federal employees, contractor employees, and those wishing to do business with DARPA:
DARPA Instructions and Guides
DARPA Instruction (DI) 20, “Soliciting, Evaluating, and Selecting Proposals under Broad Agency Announcements and Research Announcements”, and its accompanying “Guide to BAAs and RAs” discuss how BAAs and RAs are drafted and approved. Further, the Instruction and the Guide discuss how DARPA reviews proposals submitted against BAAs and RAs and selects proposals for funding.
DI 70, “Contractor Relationships: Inherently Governmental Functions, Prohibited Personal Services and Organizational Conflicts of Interest,” discusses DARPA policy regarding actual and potential organizational conflicts of interest (OCIs), prohibited personal services, and utilization of contractor employees.
Proposer Communication Plan
Per the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Memo “ ‘Myth-Busting’: Addressing Misconceptions to Improve Communication with Industry during the Acquisition Process,” dated 2 Feb 2011, federal agencies must provide a proposer/vendor communication plan that discuss how agencies will engage with prospective proposers to reduce unnecessary barriers to competition, publicize communication opportunities, and prioritize engagement opportunities for high-risk, complex programs or those that fail to attract new vendors during re-competitions.
DARPA’s Proposer Communication Plan can be found here.
Justification and Approval Documents
Justifications and approvals for awards are posted on the Federal Business Opportunities site.
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