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CHIPS Articles: The Department is Riding Tradewind to Hasten its AI Acquisition Efforts

The Department is Riding Tradewind to Hasten its AI Acquisition Efforts
Using OTAs to operationalize critical AI technologies and services
By JAIC Public Affairs - December 3, 2020
Known to sailors around the world, trade winds and their associated ocean currents helped early sailing ships shorten their voyages to destination ports — leading to the transformation of global trade and exploration.

What do these vital winds have in common with the JAIC’s mission to transform the department through the integration of artificial intelligence? The JAIC is developing means that enable the Department’s AI pioneers to hasten their journeys to AI implementation. One such tool is an AI acquisition business model, appropriately called Tradewind.

Leveraging Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreements, Tradewind seeks to quickly, easily, and repeatedly identify, acquire, and operationalize critical AI technologies and services from traditional and non-traditional partners. Available to all DoD organizations hoping to use AI to solve problems they face, Tradewind will deliver meaningful market research through easy to use front-end collaboration tools. Additionally, it will enable optimal AI procurements by facilitating teaming arrangements built on the collective expertise of industry, academic, and DoD partners.

Many DoD organizations have compelling use cases for AI, but they don’t know where to start. Whether mature or starting at zero, Tradewind will provide a broad user base an agile acquisition infrastructure, best practices, and the expertise to enable their AI projects. The benefit of an OTA is that is can allow for much greater speed, flexibility, and accessibility in performing research and prototyping activities. It can also be used to design and implement innovative business models within the government that would otherwise not be feasible.

To support the rapid implementation of AI, DoD acquisition requirements must meet the Government’s mission and goals, but also comport with the way commercial industry, academia, labs, and other potential partners perform AI business. To do this, Tradewind will:

  • Maximize outreach to non-traditional industry and academic partners.
  • Create an acquisition model that is used by the Services and DoD agencies.
  • Maximize use of automated processes.
  • Facilitate integration and transition to Acquisition programs of record using Agile and DevSecOps practices.
  • Increase use of forward-thinking contracting methods for AI through training, tools, and policy development.
  • Maximize utilization of the JAIC’s Joint Common Foundation.

Much as the crews on sailing vessels depend on the prevailing winds to speed their voyage, Tradewind will offer a means for faster awards, with timelines dependent on the complexity of the procurement, not a set process. Additionally, activities based on an OTA approach will enable flexible, real-time contracting as a result of ongoing discussions.

Tradewind will be available to use in the first quarter of calendar year 2021. For more information and to sign up for Tradewind updates, please go to www.TradewindFAQ.org

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