Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN RDA) James Geurts recently approved a $400 million ceiling increase and a two-year period of performance (PoP) extension for Naval Information Warfare Systems Command’s (NAVWAR) Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP).
The IWRP, established in October 2018, uses an alternative acquisition method called an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) to streamline the acquisition process, rapidly develop prototypes and provide advanced technologies to the fleet. IWRP uses a consortium-based approach and is managed by Advanced Technology International (ATI).
“This incredible milestone is a first for the Navy and really highlights the way NAVWAR is leading the way in Non-FAR [Federal Acquisition Regulations] based acquisitions in order to provide rapid capabilities to our Sailors and Marines,” said Kevin Charlow, IWRP Executive Steering Group chair and Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic deputy executive director.
When the project launched in 2018, IWRP received a $100 million ceiling and a performance period running through summer 2021. By June 2020, the IWRP team allocated 100 percent of the ceiling — an aggressive feat, considering the 36 months allotted for the project.
“The fact that we expended the ceiling well within the period of performance really illustrates the demand and interest from industry and the government for agile acquisition,” said Lisa Rosenbaum, IWRP agreements officer and NIWC Atlantic non-FAR agreements lead.
Due to the potential for exponential growth in the future, the collective IWRP leadership team proceeded to work directly with ASN RDA to secure an extension to the program.
“IWRP has proven its effectiveness and successfulness as a streamlined approach to rapid prototyping,” said Jee Youn Fickling, IWRP program manager, NIWC Atlantic. “As interest increases to do more prototyping in order to keep up with the pace of technology, IWRP OTA offers the flexibility and speed within 14 technology areas. The growth in interest from IWRP users across many Navy and Marine Corps commands and program offices and the growth in the size of the consortium, speaks volumes to the need to quickly make awards for prototypes.”
The increases onto the IWRP base, which in which went into effect in July, now take the program to a $500 million ceiling and a five-year PoP in total.
“IWRP has been a great success and is one of our initiatives in Contracts competency to increase our agility in support of the Navy’s mission,” said Steve Harnig, NIWC Atlantic contracts director. “The extension of IWRP is an acknowledgement of that success and demonstrates the importance our senior leaders at NAVWAR and the Navy place on having diverse and agile contracting methods.”
The IWRP user-base currently includes NAVWAR, NIWC Atlantic, NIWC Pacific, Naval Sea Systems Command Logistics, Maintenance and Industrial Operations, Program Executive Office (PEO) for Digital Enterprise Services, PEO for Manpower, Logistics and Business Solutions, PEO Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence Space Systems, PEO Integrated Warfare Systems, Marine Corps Systems Command, Naval Analytics Office and Office of Naval Research.
“IWRP has been a game changer and has proven to be a key enabler in rapid delivery of IW capability to the warfighter,” said Nicole Stone, director of rapid prototyping — information warfare at NIWC Pacific. “Collaboration with our partners in industry, small business and academia, with the flexibility necessary to adapt to evolving requirements, is critical to our success in winning the fight. IWRP provides that platform for us.”
The agile OTA process creates an alternative avenue for both traditional and non-traditional industry partners to move their technology ideas from concept to prototype in rapid succession, with the opportunity for potential production and transition into the fleet. IWRP is also unique compared to many other acquisition paths due to the increased focus on industry and warfighter collaboration. In fact, in the last 18 months, more than 800 opportunities were made available to members to partner and discuss prototyping projects.
“With a combination of technology and collaboration, the IWRP government team, ATI (consortium management firm), and the consortium members are well aligned to focus on underlying technologies that advance the Naval information warfare capabilities,” said Fickling. “IWRP is still growing in its use, and we are enthusiastic to be at the forefront of innovation.”
Since its inception, IWRP has grown to more than 580 consortium members, with over 78 percent of members being non-traditional industry partners.
“There are endless possibilities to harness in the information warfare and IT space among our non-traditional industry partners,” said Peter C. Reddy, NIWC Atlantic executive director. “We want to take those ideas originally created for commercial application and marry them to the critical needs of the warfighter. This unique blending of applications and ideas is what we are striving for — a rapid collision of non-traditional technologies applied to real-world warfighting problems for the future. This type of agility and speed is what IWRP delivers to our Nation’s fighting force.”
The leadership team expects opportunities for prototyping projects through IWRP to grow significantly over the next three years. Looking ahead, 10 U.S.C. section 2371b allows successful prototypes through IWRP to potentially transition into full-scale production for warfighter adoption and use. Working directly with industry, the government expects to utilize an Other Transaction for Production to make awards by the end of fiscal year 2020.
Industry or government organizations interested in learning more about IWRP can visit www.theiwrp.org.
As a part of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, NIWC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment, and sustainment of interoperable command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, cyber and information technology capabilities.