AT&T, Microsoft both win Air Force cloud OTAs

Under a pair of OTAs, AT&T and Microsoft will work with the Air Force to develop a cloud service to connect data and applications with military facilities and give access to remote and mobile users.

AT&T and Microsoft have both won Air Force contracts for experimental cloud services work under a pair of Other Transaction Authority awards.

AT&T’s OTA is worth $87.4 million over three years and Microsoft’s is worth $34.4 million. Both were awarded by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.

The descriptions are identical for the two awards: enterprise IT as-a-service that will connect data and applications with DOD facilities and support access for mobile and remote users.

In its Wednesday award notice, the Defense Department says the OTAs will be used for the “experimentation of a secure, reliable, measured, commercial data and voice network.”

AT&T will work at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado; Offutt AFB, Nebraska; and Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska.

Microsoft will work at Hurlburt Field, Florida, Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, and Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

More details were not available. I have contacted the Air Force, Microsoft and AT&T for comment and will update this post when I hear back.

OTAs are generally awarded through a consortium structure that companies join before they can bid. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center released a solicitation in April to create its own OTA consortium, but apparently it hasn’t been awarded yet. Deltek data indicates proposals for that are due Oct. 1.

The draft solicitation listed July 12 as a due date for proposals. And the notice doesn’t list a deadline.

According to solicitation documents, the center’s OTA would cover a broader range of needs that fall under procurement objectives and management and engineering objectives.

The potential work under the OTA covers everything from weapons systems to uniforms. The Air Force says it wants to use the OTA to “enhance the efficiency and effectiveness” of the acquisition process. The document also limits the size of an award under the OTA to $100 million. Contractors also are expected to carry a third of a projects cost.

Obviously, OTAs are a different buying mechanism than traditional procurements. While they have been around for decades, they have grown in recent years as DOD and some civilian agencies have used OTAs to get access to new technologies and innovations. OTAs are meant as a way to fund research and bring new capabilities online quickly through prototypes and pilots.

They haven’t been without controversy. REAN Cloud won a $65 million cloud contract with the U.S. Transportation Command to develop a cloud provisioning tool.

Oracle filed a successful bid protest, arguing that the command didn’t properly use the OTA mechanism. In essence, Oracle said the contract was awarded without competition. That contract was worth nearly $1 billion before it was scaled back.

The contract was cancelled entirely after the Government Accountability Office said the command didn’t follow the rules for conducting OTA procurements.