Air Education and Training Command (AETC)
Air Force Installation Contracting Center (AFICC)
338th Specialized Contracting Squadron (338 SCONS)
1. General Information
1.1 Background & Authority
The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) established innovation as a central line of effort in the national defense strategy of the United States. The decisive military advantage of the United States over its adversaries and peer competitors is steadily eroding. Consequently, under section 879 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 (Pub. L. 114-328) contracting officers may acquire innovative commercial items, technologies, or services using a competitive procedure called a Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO). Under a CSO, the Department of Defense may competitively select proposals received in response to a general solicitation, similar to a broad agency announcement, based on a review of proposals by scientific, technological, or other subject-matter expert peers. Use of a CSO in accordance with Class Deviation 2018-O0016 is considered to be a competitive procedure for the purposes of 10 U.S.C. chapter 127 and FAR 6.102. Finally, contracting officers shall treat items, technologies, and services acquired using a CSO as commercial items.
1.2 CSO Procedure
This CSO is a competitive solicitation (posted on a Government Point of Entry (www.fbo.gov) through 30 September 2020) seeking solution briefs/proposals from non-traditional business entities. This CSO seeks innovative, commercial technologies that propose new solutions or potential new capabilities that fulfill requirements, close capability gaps, or provide potential technological advancements in support of Air Force Education and Training Command’s (AETC) mission to recruit, train and educate airmen to deliver 21st century airpower. In this context, innovative means any technology, process, or method, including research and development that is new as of the date of submission of a proposal. Or innovative means any application that is new as of the date of submission of a proposed use of technology, process, or method existing that proposes new solutions to any direct or indirect functional support echelon within AETC or its tenant organizations. This CSO may result in the award of prototype projects, which include not only commercially-available technologies fueled by commercial or strategic investment, but also concept demonstrations, pilots, and agile development activities that can incrementally improve commercial technologies, existing government-owned capabilities, or concepts for broad defense application(s). The Government reserves the right to award a FAR based contract or an Other Transactions (OTs) for any purpose, to include a prototype(s) and follow-on production, as a result of this CSO.
This CSO is soliciting Solution Briefs in response to AETC Areas of Interest (AoIs). AoIs are focused topic(s) categories that will be published separately by the AETC Technology Integration Detachment (ATID) and posted on the AFWERX (https://www.afwerx.af.mil/austin-hub.html) website. All Solution Briefs submitted in response to any AETC AoI will be in response to and governed by this CSO.
The CSO outlines the procedures to submit a response to an AoI to ensure a competitive process that may result in three-phases (Solution Brief, Pitch, and full written proposal):
Phase 1 Solution Briefs: Shall be submitted as specified in Section 3.2 of this CSO. The Government will evaluate Solution Briefs against the criteria stated in this CSO. The Government will not pay Companies for the costs associated with Solution Brief submissions.
Phase 2 Pitch Session: Companies whose Solution Briefs are evaluated to be of merit may be invited to provide a pitch following the instructions provided in Section 3.3 of this CSO. In the event that the Government requires a demonstration, additional information will be provided in the specific AoI highlighting those procedures, otherwise Phase 2 will be comprised solely of the Pitch. The Government will not pay companies for costs associated with Pitches, unless otherwise stipulated.
Phase 3 Request for Commercial Solution Proposal (CSP): Those companies whose Solution Brief and Pitch are evaluated to be of merit and are selected for potential award of a Prototype OT or traditional FAR Part 12 based contract, may subject to availability of government funds, be invited to submit a full written proposal following the instructions provided in Section 3.4 of this CSO. The Government will not pay companies for costs associated with developing materials in Phase 3, unless otherwise stipulated within the AoI.
NOTE: The Government reserves the right to forgo Phase 2 and go directly to Phase 3.
The Government may add additional AoIs against this CSO at any time within the fiscal year. Interested companies are encouraged to frequently check the AFWERX website for new AoI postings or subscribe to its RSS feed which will automatically notify companies of new AoI postings.
Benefits of the CSO process and the potential for OTs include:
A streamlined application process requiring only minimal corporate and technical information
Fast track evaluation timelines for Solution Briefs
Negotiable payment terms
Capital is non-dilutive
Negotiable intellectual property (IP) rights
Secure and direct feedback from operators, Air Force mission partners and users within the DoD to help product teams develop and hone product design and functionality
Potential follow-on funding for promising technologies and/or sponsorship of user test cases for prototypes and possible follow-on production contract or OTs
SECTION 2 – DEFINITIONS
“Area of Interest” (AoI) means an announcement posted on the AFWERX website which may result in the award of an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA).
“Commercial Solutions Opening” (CSO) is a competitive procedure contracting officers may use to acquire innovative commercial items, technologies, or services.
"Other Transaction” refers to the type of Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) that may be placed as a result of this CSO and associated AoIs. This type of OT is authorized by 10 U.S.C. § 2371b 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 DoD, or for the improvement of platforms, systems, components, or materials in use by the armed forces. This type of OTA is treated by DoD as an acquisition instrument, commonly referred to as an "other transaction" for a prototype project or a Section 2371b "other transaction".
“Prototype Project” can generally be described as a proof of concept, model, reverse engineering to address obsolescence, pilot, novel application of commercial technologies for defense purposes, agile development activity, creation, design, development, demonstration of technical or operational utility, or combinations of the foregoing. A process, including a business process, may also be the subject of a prototype project. Although assistance terms are generally not appropriate in OT agreements, ancillary work efforts that are necessary for completion of the prototype project, such as test site training or limited logistics support, may be included in prototype projects. A prototype may be physical, virtual, or conceptual in nature. (ref: p. 31, Appendix A, November 2018 Other Transactions Guide, v.1.0.) The quantity of prototypes/commercial solutions should generally be limited to that needed to prove technical or manufacturing feasibility or evaluate military utility.
“Nontraditional Defense Contractor” is defined in 10 U.S.C. § 2302(9) as an entity that is not currently performing and has not performed, for at least the one-year period preceding the solicitation of sources by the DoD for the procurement or transaction, any contract or subcontract for the DoD that is subject to full coverage under the cost accounting standards prescribed pursuant to 41 U.S.C. § 1502 and the regulations implementing such section. This includes all small business concerns under the criteria and size standards in 13 C.F.R. § 121.
“Nonprofit Research Institution” means a nonprofit institution, as defined in 15 U.S.C. § 3703 as an organization owned and operated exclusively for scientific or educational purposes, no part of
the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.
“Small Business Concerns” is defined in the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 632)
(1) innovative means any new technology, process, or method, including research and development that is new as of the date of submission of a proposal; or
(2) Or innovative means any new application that is new as of the date of submission of a
proposed use of technology, process, or method existing that proposes new solutions to any direct or indirect functional support echelon within AETC or its tenant organizations.
SECTION 3 - GUIDELINES FOR SOLUTION BRIEFS, PITCHES, AND PROPOSALS
3.1 General Guidelines
Unnecessarily elaborate brochures or proposals are not desired.
Use of a diagram(s) or figure(s) to depict the essence of the proposed solution is strongly encouraged.
Companies may submit multiple Solution Briefs in response to any single AoI if each submission represents a separate and distinct concept. Individual Solution Briefs may only address one concept based on the stated AETC AoI.
The period of performance for any Solution Brief or proposal submitted under this CSO should generally be no greater than 3-12 months (unless otherwise specified in the AoI).
Technical data with military application may require approval, authorization, or license for lawful exportation.
All Solution Briefs, Pitches, and Proposals shall be unclassified. Solution Briefs, Pitches, and Proposals containing data that is not to be disclosed to the public for any purpose or used by the Government except for evaluation purposes shall include the following general disclaimer on the cover page:
“This [select one: Solution Brief, Pitch, or Proposal] includes data that shall not be disclosed outside the Government, except to non-Government personnel for evaluation purposes, and shall not be duplicated, used, or disclosed -- in whole or in part -- for any purpose other than to evaluate this submission. If, however, an agreement is awarded to this Company as a result of -- or in connection with – the submission of this data, the Government
shall have the right to duplicate, use, or disclose the data to the extent agreed upon by both parties in the resulting agreement. This restriction does not limit the Government's right to use information contained in this data if it is obtained from another source without restriction. The data subject to this restriction are contained in sheets [insert numbers or other identification of sheets]”
Recommended marking (header or footer) for portions of business plans and/or technical information that are to be protected for a period of five years from FOIA disclosure:
“10 U.S.C. §2371(i), provides that disclosure of certain type of information [i.e. a proposal, proposal abstract, and supporting documents. ii. A business plan submitted on a Business Proprietary basis. iii. Technical information submitted on a confidential basis] is not required, and may not be compelled, under section 552 of title 5 for five years after the date on which the information is received by the Department of Defense.”
7. Foreign-Owned businesses may independently submit a solution or do so as part of a teaming arrangement with one or more United States-Owned businesses. However, the ability to obtain an agreement based upon a submission may depend upon the ability of the Foreign-Owned business to obtain necessary clearances and approvals to obtain proscribed information.
Questions regarding the objectives or preparation of the Solution Brief should be addressed to 338SCONS.PKX.CSO@us.af.mil.
Submissions must be submitted electronically as prescribed in the respective AoI.
Submissions sent through other channels or after the prescribed AoI open period has ended will not be considered, reviewed nor evaluated.
Solution Briefs that are not chosen for the Pitch Phase will be notified in writing as soon as practicable. Further verbal feedback may be provided, upon request, at the Contracting/Agreements Officer’s discretion.
3.2 Phase 1 Solution Brief
PHASE 1 SOLUTION BRIEF CONTENT
Solution Briefs should not exceed five (5) single-sided written pages using 12-point font or, alternatively, Solution Briefs may take the form of briefing slides which should not exceed fifteen (15) slides unless otherwise stated on the subject AoI.
Solution Briefs must include the following:
Company Name, Title, Date, Point of Contact Name, E-Mail Address, Phone, and Address. Specifically identify the AoI for which the Solution Brief is submitted.
Executive Summary: Provide an executive summary of the technology. (This is included in the 5 written pages limit)
Technology Concept: Show and/or describe how your proposed solution or potential new capabilities fulfill requirements, close capability gaps, or provide potential technological advancements in support of AETC’s mission to recruit, train and educate airmen to deliver 21st century airpower. Describe the unique aspects of your technology and the proposed work as it relates to the AoI. Identify whether the effort includes the pilot or demonstration of existing commercial technology (identified as commercially ready and viable technology), or the development of technology for potential defense application. If development or adaptation is proposed, identify a suggested path to mature the technology. Identify aspects of your proposal, to include data and software, which may be considered proprietary.
Company Viability: Provide a brief overview of the company. Provide a summary of current fundraising to date and/or a summary of the top line (gross sales/revenues) and balance sheet. Provide a summary of product commercialization and go-to-market strategy.
Note: The Title Page (does not count against page limit however the executive summary does).
PHASE 1 SOLUTION BRIEF BASIS OF EVALUATION
Solution Brief evaluation criteria are listed in order of importance from top to bottom. Individual Solution Briefs will be evaluated against the evaluation criteria described below:
Responsiveness of the Solution Brief in addressing the AoI with a commercially available dual use product and/or process;
The Technical Merit of the proposed solution adequately addressed AETC’s need(s) and demonstrated feasibility for AETC to pursue the proposed solution;
An acceptable evaluation of the company’s financial viability and business solution; and
The company’s approach is unique, and/or innovative to government application
Solution Briefs will be evaluated on the evaluation criteria listed above, not against other Solution Briefs submitted in response to the same AoI. The Government may elect to use external market research in the evaluation of a company’s viability. The Government holds the right to select “all, some, or none” of the solution briefs submitted in response to the AoI. The Government will endeavor to complete the Phase 1 evaluation of Solution Briefs within 30 calendar days of the closing of the submittal period and will attempt to notify the Company of the results of the evaluation as soon as practicable.
Additional technical evaluation criteria specific to a particular project may be used. In these instances, the additional criteria will be posted within or as an attachment to the AoI on the AFWERX website.
Upon review of a Solution Brief, the Government may elect to invite “all, some, or none” of the proposed solutions into Phase 2, the Pitch. In Phase 2, companies are invited to pitch and further discuss their proposed concept/technology/solution in person or virtually. During Phase 2, the Government may request and/or provide additional information to the Company. NOTE: The Government reserves the right to forgo Phase 2 and go directly to Phase 3
3.3 Phase 2 Pitch
PHASE 2 PITCH CONTENT
In Phase 2, companies shall provide an in-person (or virtual) Pitch to demonstrate and provide further details on the technical and business viability of their proposed solution. Specific requirements of the Pitch will be covered in the AoI. In the event that the Government requires a demonstration, additional information will be provided in the specific AoI highlighting those procedures, otherwise Phase 2 will be comprised solely of the Pitch. In addition to the Pitch, the Government, at its discretion, may request an additional written submission to supplement/or clarify the information provided in the Phase 1 Solution Brief. During the Phase 2 Pitch, the Company must detail/address the following:
Provide a rough order of magnitude (ROM) price and notional schedule for how this concept could be tested within AETC or other supported Air Force elements.
Data Rights Assertions
The Solution Brief will identify any Intellectual Property (IP) involved in the effort and associated restrictions on the Government’s use of that IP.
In addition to these required areas, the Government may request the company provide additional
information/detail with respect to the Technology/Concept being pitched from its Phase 1 Solution Brief.
PHASE 2 PITCH BASIS OF EVALUATION
Individual Pitches will be evaluated against the evaluation criteria below and not against any other Pitches held under the same AoI. Pitch submissions will be valid for 90 days after pitch evaluation. The Government will aim to complete evaluation of Pitches within 30 calendar days of the Pitch. After completing the evaluation of Pitch submissions, AETC’s Review Panel will notify the company that: 1) they may submit a CSP for evaluation in Phase 3; 2) their proposed concept/technology/solution is not of continued interest to the Government and they will not be required to submit a CSP Phase 3 evaluation; or 3) their proposed concept/technology/solution is of continued interest to the Government, but is not currently eligible for an invitation for Phase 3 CSP submission due to the current lack of government resources and/or funding. Ninety days after Pitch Evaluation, if government funding or resources are not assigned to a Phase 3 CSP, the government will provide a notification of non-eligibility and officially close the AoI selection process.
Pitch evaluation criteria are listed in order of importance from top to bottom. Pitches shall be evaluated/scored on the following factors:
Level of relevancy of the solution in addressing the AoI with a commercially available dual use product and/or process;
The Technical Merit of the proposed solution adequately addressed AETC’s need(s) and demonstrated feasibility for AETC to pursue the proposed solution;
Level of uniqueness, and/or innovative approach to solve AETC’s need;
Level of technical risk/maturity;
Level of risk placed with the proposed ROM;
Level of risk in the proposed prototype/milestone schedule and its ability to meet the AoI need within a relevant time period;
Level of risk in the company’s viability and business solution; and
Level of potential risk in anticipated IP and data rights assertions
3.4 Phase 3 Proposal
PHASE 3 PROPOSAL CONTENT
The third and final phase of the CSO process is the CSP. Based upon the results of Phase 1 or Phase 2 evaluation above, the Government may issue a CSP. If that occurs, a company, or companies will be invited to develop and submit a written proposal as well as negotiate appropriate terms and conditions, as applicable, governing the prototype. At this stage, the selected companies may discuss proposal development details during the proposal writing process with their assigned Government expert(s) or Government teaming partner(s). Each proposal submitted shall consist of two sections: Section 1 shall provide the technical proposal; Section 2 shall address the price/cost/schedule portions of the proposal. Additionally, companies are invited to provide their own internal terms and conditions that may be consolidated with those of the Government. This includes Service License Agreements (SLA) and/or User License Agreements (ULA).
Companies should note that there are certain terms and conditions the Government may be unable to accept. However, projects awarded through the CSO may provide flexibility to adopt customary industry standards where it is otherwise legal and meets the government’s general public responsibility.
3.4 Section 1 Technical Proposal (Limited to 10 pages)
The Technical proposal must include the following:
Company Name, Title, Point of Contact Name, Date, E-Mail Address, Phone, and Address and any subcontractors or team members. Include an abstract which provides a concise description of the proposal.
Propose a Technical Approach: Describe the background and objectives of the proposed work, the approach, deliverables, and the resources needed to execute the prototype. Include the nature and extent of the anticipated results. Include ancillary and operational issues such as certifications, algorithms, and any engineering/software development methodologies to be used. This proposal must include a Statement of Proposed Work (SOPW) identifying the work to be performed, anticipated work-breakdown structure and expected deliverables. Provide a project schedule that outlines the major milestones and deliverables within the proposed period of performance.
Government Support Required: Identify the type of support, if any, the company requests of the Government in general terms such as access to facilities, equipment, data, materials and/or information.
Note: Title Page (Not included in page count)
3.4 Section 2, Price Proposal
The Company shall propose a total price using Analogy or Engineering Build-up Cost Estimating methodologies. The Government reserves the right to request any other price data or supporting cost information the Government deems necessary to determine the total overall price is fair and reasonable. This can include but is not limited to commercial price catalog(s), previous commercial sales receipts, and/or other proprietary information to help the government determine reasonableness and future budgetary cost estimates.
*The cost of preparing proposals in response to this CSO is not considered a direct charge to any resulting AoI award or any other contract. Proposal preparation costs are not recoverable.
PHASE 3 PROPOSAL BASIS OF EVALUATION
The AETC CSO evaluation criteria are listed in order of importance from top to bottom. The Government panel of subject matter experts will first review the proposal for adequacy, eligibility, and determine if the following requirements are met:
If the technical approach and respective risk elements are acceptable
If the proposal performance schedule & requested Gov’t support is realistic and/or adequate
If the proposed price is fair and reasonable
If AETC decides to pursue a OT, then AETC will also review the proposal to determine if:
Fits the definition of a prototype: does/does not fit the CSO definition of a prototype
Quantity: quantity is/is not limited to that needed to prove technical or manufacturing feasibility or evaluate military utility
Meets mission effectiveness standard: Is/is not directly relevant to enhancing DoD mission effectiveness
Meets non-traditional participation/cost share requirement: At least one Non-traditional defense contractor contributes to a significant extent; or all of the participants (other than the government) are small businesses not; or at least one-third (1/3) of total prototype project cost is paid by parties other than the Government; or the Agency’s Senior Procurement Executive (SPE) determines in writing that exceptional circumstances justify OTA use
Defense Utility: Solution is/is not applicable to a DoD platform, sys tem, process or component
Meets all OT requirements
If AETC decides to pursue a prototype contract (Non-OT), requirements 4-9 above will NOT be used.
Proposals will be reviewed as received by a Government subject matter expert panel.
In all cases, Proprietary information shall be protected from competitors.
SECTION 4 – AWARDS
4.1 General Guidelines
Upon favorable review and available funds, the Government may choose to make a fixed price award either using FAR 12 Acquisition of Commercial Items or OT authority. The Contracting/Agreements Officer reserves the right to negotiate directly with the company on the terms and conditions prior to execution of the resulting contract or OT, including payment terms, and will execute the contract/agreement on behalf of the Government. Be advised, only a Contracting or Agreements Officer has the authority to enter into, or modify, a binding contract or agreement on behalf of the United States Government.
In order to receive either a fixed price award either using FAR 12 Acquisition of Commercial Items or OT authority:
A company must have a Dunn and Bradstreet (DUNS) number and must register in the System for Award Management (SAM) prior to receiving an award or agreement. Companies are advised to commence SAM registration upon receipt of a CSP.
A company must also register in the prescribed government invoicing system (ex. Wide Area Work Flow). ATID and/or 338 SCONS will provide assistance to those companies from whom a full proposal is requested.
A company must be determined to be responsible by the Contracting/Agreements Officer and must not be suspended or debarred from award by the Federal Government nor be prohibited by Presidential Executive Order and/or law from receiving an award.
Receipt of a CSP does not guarantee that a company will receive an award and the Government reserves the right, at any point prior to award of a contract/agreement, to cancel the CSP.
4.2 Comptroller General Access to Information
If the prototype OT provides for payments in a total amount in excess of $5,000,000, the Agreement will include a mandatory clause that provides for the Comptroller General the ability to examine the records of any party to the agreement or any entity that participates in the performance of the agreement.
4.3 Procurement Integrity Act (PIA)
As required by 10 U.S.C. § 2371b(h), all Agreements awarded under this CSO shall be treated as Federal Agency procurements for purpose of 41 U.S.C. Chapter 21. Accordingly, the CSO competitive solicitation process and awards made thereof must adhere to the ethical standards required by the PIA.
SECTION 5 - ITERATIVE PROTOTYPING
A contract or OT for a prototype awarded against this CSO shall allow for an iterative prototyping process.
An iterative prototyping process will allow the Government to modify, by mutual agreement, the scope of a prototype contract or OT to allow for the adaptation and modification of the technology being prototyped to meet additional unique and discrete purposes/mission sets. The sequential prototype iterations may result in a separate spiral prototype project rather than a modification of the original prototype contract or OT. These additional unique and discrete purposes/mission sets can be generated by AETC or originate within any AETC subordinate or supported organization.
SECTION 6 – SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION
A prototype project is complete upon the written determination of the appropriate approving official (program manager and Contracting/Agreements Officer) for the matter in question that the efforts conducted under a prototype contract or OT: (1) met the key technical goals of a project; (2) met the metrics incorporated into the prototype contract or OT; or (3) accomplished a particularly favorable or unexpected result that justifies the transition to a production contract or OT.
Furthermore, prior to successful completion of a prototype project under this CSO, the government can transition any aspect of the prototype project determined to provide utility into production while other aspects of the prototype project have yet to be completed.
SECTION 7 – FOLLOW-ON PRODUCTION
After award of a prototype using either a fixed price award either using FAR 12 Acquisition of Commercial Items or OT authority, the Government and company may negotiate a follow-on contract or OT for production or solution integration with or without further competition. Any concept/technology/solution successfully proven through a contract or Prototype OT can be transitioned to a production contract. The government reserves the right to award a follow-on contract or OT before the prototype is complete.
Any AoI posted by the Government under this CSO could result in the potential award of a follow-on production or solution integration contract or OT.
The government reserves the right to extend performance to all, some, or none of the selected solutions and will be made based on the availability of government funds.
SECTION 8 – NON-GOVERNMENT ADVISORS
Non-Government advisors may be used in the evaluation of all Phases and shall have signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the Government. If non-Government advisor(s) are used, companies will be notified of the name and corporate affiliation of these advisors. Companies will be afforded the opportunity to enter into a specific NDA with the corporate entity prior to submission of their solution brief, pitch, or proposal.
The Government understands that information provided in response to this CSO is presented in confidence and may contain trade secrets or commercial or financial information, and it agrees to protect such information from unauthorized disclosure to the maximum extent permitted or required by Law, to include:
18 U.S.C. 1905 (Trade Secrets Act);
18 U.S.C. 1831 et seq. (Economic Espionage Act);
5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4) (Freedom of Information Act);
Executive Order 12600 (Pre-disclosure Notification Procedures for Confidential Commercial Information); and,
Any other statute, regulation, or requirement applicable to Government employees
338th SCONS, ATID and AFWERX policy is to treat all submissions as source selection information, and will only disclose their contents for the purpose of evaluation. Restrictive notices notwithstanding, during the evaluation process, submissions may be handled by Non-Government advisors for administrative purposes and/or to assist with technical evaluation(s). All ATID support contractors performing this role are expressly prohibited from performing ATID-sponsored technical research and are bound by appropriate NDAs.
Submissions will not be returned. The original of each submission received will be retained with the 338th SCONS and all other non-required copies destroyed. A certification of destruction may be requested, provided the formal request is received by the contracting office within 5 days after notification that the proposal was not selected.
SECTION 9 – CONTACT INFORMATION
Contracting Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contracting/Agreements Officer: email@example.com
Contract Specialist: firstname.lastname@example.org