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Solutions to Help Improve the USAF Acquisition Process(es)



OBJECTIVE: This is an AF Special Topic in partnership with AFWERX, please see the above AF Special Topic instructions for further details. A Phase I award will be completed over 3 months with a maximum award of $75K and a Phase II may be awarded for a maximum period of 15 month and $750K. The objective of this topic is to explore Innovative solutions for improving the US Air Force acquisition processes and surrounding activities. This topic will reach companies that can complete a feasibility study and prototype validated concepts in accelerated Phase I and II schedules. 

DESCRIPTION: The US Air Force procures hundreds of millions of dollars per year worth of equipment, supplies and services through thousands of contracts from business large to small. In the recent years there have been continuous calls to help improve the defense acquisition system to become faster, more effective, more transparent and less bureaucratic. This topic is looking for innovative solutions to help improve the acquisitions process. Solutions for this topic should cover one or more of the aspects of the acquisitions process including (but not limited to): ● Deciding of defense needs ● Advertising of defense needs to industry ● Managing internal (DoD) and external (Industry) contacts ● Accepting solicitations from industry ● Evaluating solicitations ● Selecting proper contractual routes (e.g. Traditional FAR contract vs Other Transaction) ● Drafting contracts ● Negotiating contracts ● Completing required forms/documentation (e.g. from statutory or policy requirements) ● Monitoring and assisting in execution of contracts ● Managing contract disputes The solutions should apply to one or more of the following types of acquisitions including (but not limited to): ● SBIR/STTR ● Other Transactions (2371, 2371(b), 2373) ● Broad Agency Announcements ● Section 804 Rapid Acquisition ● Traditional FAR-Based Contracts ● Purchase Orders ● GSA Schedule Any solution proposed should recognize the complexity of the acquisition system and should address how it will handle that complexity including but not limited to: ● Interfacing with legacy systems ● Working between different organizations ● Satisfying the information assurance and security requirements (thinking about the Authority to Operate) ● Following all statutory rules and policy compliance regulations ● Be flexible to changes in statute/policy ● Enable transparency for GAO accountability ● Have strategies to remain relevant into the future without further government investment (i.e. tied to non-defense commercial solutions) Potential Stakeholders that could be served include but are not limited to: ● Contracting officers ● Finance officers ● Layers ● Program Managers ● Engineers ● Commanders ● End-Users ● Small Businesses ● Large businesses ● Non-traditionals (i.e. startups) ● Public Affairs Officers ● Policymakers ● Allied partners ● Instructors ● Students The solutions should above all aim to improve the following aspects of the acquisition processes: ● Throughput (number of contracts per unit cost) ● Speed (going from need to fielded solutions) ● Effectiveness (for the end-users and stakeholders) ● Transparency (to many stakeholders) ● Outreach (breadth of companies involved) ● Efficiency (cost in time and money for execution of the acquisition process) 

PHASE I: Conduct a feasibility study to determine the effectiveness of existing (i.e. commercial) and upcoming (i.e. products expected to be released soon) solution(s) for one or multiple of the Air Force problems. This feasibility study should directly address: 1. Which problem area(s) are being addressed by the solutions 2. How they will apply to the US Government’s needs 3. The breadth of applicability of the solution(s) to the US Government 4. Give examples of which government customers would likely be able to utilize the solution(s) 5. The solution(s) should also be evaluated for cost and feasibility of being integrated with current and future complementary solutions 6. How the solution(s) will be able to address potential future changes and challenges 7. The potential to keep pace with technological change due to things such as other non-DoD applications and customer bases for the solution(s) The funds obligated on the resulting Phase I SBIR contracts are to be used for the sole purpose of conducting a thorough feasibility study using scientific experiments, laboratory studies, commercial research and interview. Prototypes may be developed with SBIR funds during Phase I studies to better address the risks and potential payoffs in innovative technologies. 

PHASE II: Develop, install, integrate and demonstrate a prototype system determined to be the most feasible solution during the Phase I feasibility study. This demonstration should focus specifically on: 1. A clear and specific government customer that can immediately utilize the solution 2. How the solution differs from a commercial offering to solve the DoD need (i.e. how has it been modified) 3. How the solution can integrate with other current and potential future solutions 4. How the solution can be sustainable (i.e. supportability) 5. How the demonstration can be used by other DoD customers 

PHASE III: The contractor will pursue commercialization of the various technologies developed in Phase II for transitioning expanded mission capability to a broad range of potential government and civilian users and alternate mission applications. 


1: Levin, C., & McCain, J. (2014). DEFENSE ACQUISITION REFORM : WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE ? A Compendium of Views by Leading Experts. Retrieved from REPORT - DEFENSE ACQUISITION REFORM-A Compendium of Views (10-2-14)1.pdf

2: Fox, J. R. (2011). Defense Acquisition Reform , 1960 – 2009 An Elusive Goal. Book. Retrieved from

3:  Schwartz, M., & Peters, H. M. (2018). Acquisition Reform in the FY2016-FY2018 National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs) Specialist in Defense Acquisition. Retrieved from

KEYWORDS: Acquisition, Contracting, Engineering, Finance, Legal 


Chris Benson 

(410) 474-8369 

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