DIUx Commercial Solutions Opening: How to Guide
Defense Innovation Unit Experimental Silicon Valley United States
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In August 2015, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter founded the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental DIUx to accelerate innovation to the warfighter. In the past, government funding spurred significant technology development today, that trend has shifted commercial investment now propels the preponderance of ground-breaking technology development. In order to access cutting-edge technology from nontraditional vendors, DoD must change the way it does business and adapt to commercial best practices, lower its barriers to entry, and transform into a more attractive customer and investor. To this end, DIUx initiated a first-of-its-kind acquisition mechanism called the Commercial Solutions Opening, or CSO. The CSO is the mechanism by which DIUx solicits solutions to problems that our warfighters are facing. Selected solutions are ultimately awarded other transactions for prototype projects hereafter, OTs - essentially, agreements, instruments, unlike contracts, that are not bound by the Federal Acquisition Regulation FAR. This allows us to work with nontraditional vendors - or even traditional vendors in special cases - through a process that is fast, flexible, and collaborative. By simplifying the solicitation process and benchmarking commercial best practices, while remaining good stewards of taxpayer dollars, DIUx is opening up the DoD to a new vendor base many times larger than the vendor base the department works with today. The CSO allows us to leverage the enormous amount of commercial research and development R and D investment and quickly access cutting-edge technology. This document--a how-to guide for CSOs--is divided into three parts. First, it outlines the general basics of OTs. Second, it details the DIUx philosophy on OTs. These are guiding principles through which DIUx designed the CSO that can easily be adopted by others as an additional tool in the acquisition toolbox. Finally, it outlines the specific CSO process leveraged by DIUx.