The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is suggesting that the U.S. Army improve its use of alternative agreements and approaches for contracts – such as technology competitions and granting access to Army labs – by analyzing how those approaches are working and sharing lessons learned enterprise-wide.

Rather than use the Federal Acquisition Regulation-based contracts for R&D to modernize weapon systems capabilities, the Army is more often using alternative agreements, which provide flexibility and reduces barriers to creating new partnerships.

“Various parts of the Army organization use these agreements and approaches,” GAO said. “But the Army hasn’t analyzed how they’re working or shared lessons learned Army-wide.  We recommended doing so to help shape future decisions.”

“GAO found that Army organizations lack consistent, coordinated practices to identify and share lessons learned from entering into alternative agreements or executing alternative approaches,” GAO said in a report. “The use of consistent, coordinated lessons learned practices for alternative agreements can improve the processes leading up to an agreement by including more diverse perspectives and ensuring that lessons learned are not confined to a subset of organizations or officials involved in decision-making.”

GAO made six recommendations to the Army, all of which the service branch agreed to. The  recommendations include:

  1. Army Futures Command, along with the Army Contracting Command, should regularly analyze information on the use of grants, cooperative agreements, technology investment agreements, partnership intermediary agreements, and cooperative R&D agreements;
  2. Army Contracting Command should establish practices to collect, archive, and share lessons learned for research and prototype other transactions, grants, cooperative agreements, technology investment agreements, and partnership intermediary agreements;
  3. The service branch should regularly analyze information on the use of prototype other transactions for Army modernization;
  4. Army Contracting Command should ensure that its “contracting centers work with its headquarters to establish consistent, coordinated practices for the contracting centers to collect, analyze, validate, archive, and share lessons learned for research prototype other transactions, grants, cooperative agreements, tech investment agreements, and partnership intermediary agreements”;
  5. The Army should establish consistent, coordinated practices for the Combat Capabilities Development Command to collect, analyze, validate, archive, and share lessons learned for cooperative R&D agreements; and
  6. The Army should establish an archive to store and share lessons learned information related to the Army’s alternative approaches for engaging industry and academia.
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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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