A Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) is a merit-based source selection strategy for the Department of Defense (DoD) to acquire innovative commercial items, technologies or services that directly fulfill requirements, close capability gaps, or provide potential technological advances. It’s focused on businesses or institutions that have not traditionally done business with the U.S. Government. CSOs are similar to Broad Agency Announcements (BAA) but allow for acquiring technology directly relevant to a specific program unlike BAAs which are restricted to only basic and applied research and that portion of development not related to a specific system or hardware program. CSO were authorized by Section 879 of the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

DoD innovation hubs (e.g., Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx)) have adopted the model to move at the speed of business to match Silicon Valley counterparts.

Each proposal submitted under an CSO is evaluated on its individual merits rather than on a comparative basis, and the Government has considerable latitude in determining which of the submitted proposals it will fund. Inefficient processes add complexity, cost, and time.

Benefits of the CSO strategy include: [1]

  • A streamlined application process requiring only minimal corporate and technical information
  • Fast track evaluation timelines for solution briefs; with notification made, in most cases, within 30 calendar days of topic closure
  • Negotiable payment terms
  • Capital is non-dilutive
  • All intellectual property (IP) rights are negotiable and the Government does not plan to own any IP
  • Direct feedback from operators, customers and users within the DoD to help product teams develop and hone product design and functionality
  • Potential follow-on funding for promising technologies and sponsorship of user test cases

CSO is not governed by rules for contracts per the Federal Acquisition Regulations. CSO is different from Other Transaction Authority (OTA). OTA is a legally binding procurement agreement between government and industry authorized for scientific research, technology development, and prototype projects.

AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 11/30/2018

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