Air Force Spending on Cybersecurity Using Other Transaction Agreements, FY 2021-2023

Published: May 17, 2024

Federal Market AnalysisUSAFContracting TrendsCybersecurityInformation TechnologyOther Transaction Agreements (OTAs)Procurement

Air Force spending on cybersecurity using OTA contracts rebounds after a year of contraction.

The Department of Defense (DoD) and the military departments (MILDEPs) have been using Other Transaction Authority contracts – or Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs) – to acquire and develop information technology (IT) capabilities for many years, and the Air Force is no exception. The latest OTA spending data reveals, however, that Air Force spending for cybersecurity capabilities has fluctuated over the last few fiscal years (FY), showing both modest declines and rebounding growth.

DoD Cybersecurity-Related OTA Spending, FY 2021-2023

The latest OTA spending data depicts varying levels of OTA contract usage among the DoD components over the most recent three completed fiscal years (FY) 2021 through 2023.

Air Force Cybersecurity-Related OTA Spending, FY 2021-2023

From FY 2021 through FY 2023 the Air Force spent an aggregate $369M on cybersecurity-related efforts using OTAs. After a 16% reduction from FY 2021 to FY 2022, AF spending on OTAs for cybersecurity efforts rebounded by 15% from FY 2022 to FY 2023 to reach $127M. Still, the FY 2023 level remains 3% below the FY 2021 level.

While the Air Force’s use of OTAs for cybersecurity-related efforts dipped from FY 2021 to FY 2022, and the rebound in FY 2023 did not reach or exceed the FY 2021 level, this spending remains significantly above FY 2020 levels, which came in at around $86M. Further, the combined FY 2021-23 level at $369M is above the FY 2020-22 aggregate level, which was $333M, signaling sustained growth in OTA use over time.

Cybersecurity-Related OTA Spending by Air Force Organization, FY 2021-2023

The latest spending data shows that cyber-related work via OTA at the Air Force is very concentrated among a handful of organizations, but this not entirely surprising since OTAs and these organizations both fit with the development of new, emerging capabilities and technologies. The demand for innovation fits with both the mission of these organizations and the purpose and benefits of using OTAs.

Dominating the current spending on OTA for cyber is the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center (AFLCMC), specifically the C3I/Networks Directorate at the AFLCMC. Other organizations using OTA contracts for cyber-related efforts include the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), the Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation (AFAMS), Air Force District of Washington (AFDW), the 16th Air Force (Air Forces Cyber), and the Air Force Test Center (AFTC). Note, several OTAs provided no additional buying organization information on the contract beyond the Air Force.

Top Air Force Cybersecurity-Related Efforts Using OTAs, FY 2021-2023

Below is a list of Air Force efforts using OTAs that had significant cyber-elements for the past three fiscal years and had spending reported for FY 2023, signifying the most recent activity. The amounts below are aggregate OTA spending from FY 2021 through FY 2023, with FY 2023-specific spending also noted. Where an AF organization was provided in the data, this is also provided below.

  • Enterprise Information Technology as a Service End User Services (AFLCMC), $333M total, $112M (34%) in FY 2023
  • Enhanced Solutions for Cyber Assurance Persistence and Exploitation (ESCAPE), $4.7M total, $2.9M (62%) in FY 2023. AFDW reported $1.7M in FY 2023. The remaining $1.2M did not list a buying organization. For comparison, AFRL reported $1.75M in FY 2022.
  • Valiant-Research, Develop, and Deliver Innovative Solutions and Robust Capabilities that Address Real Challenges in the Mission Space of the 16th Air Force and USAF Partnering Combatant Commands (AFSOC), $2.1M total, all in FY 2023
  • Joint Cyber Warfare Experimentation Framework (JCWEF) (AFRL), $383K total, all in FY 2023
  • Multi-Level, Multi-Compartment Security (MXS) Cloud Software Development Kit (SDK) Production Effort (AFLCMC), $8.7M total, $6.8M (79%) in FY 2023
  • Persistent Cyber Training Environment Cyber Innovation Challenge Number 4 (AFAMS), $1.5M total, all in FY 2023
  • SBIR PHASE 2 Basic Award for the Effective Compaction of Satellite Transmission to Maximize Bandwidth and Data Security Program, $1.2M total, all in FY 2023
  • Enterprise Information Technology as a Service Compute and Store, (AFLCMC), $213K, all in FY 2023

Final Thoughts

The high priority of addressing ongoing cybersecurity challenges at an urgent pace is a situation well aligned with using OTAs, where rapid prototyping, testing and fielding of new capabilities can get bogged down by more traditional contracting approaches. As the service seeks to apply evolving commercial and emerging technologies – such as artificial intelligence and machine learning – to its cybersecurity imperatives, suppliers and service providers may anticipate the Air Force to continue to leverage OTAs as a preferred acquisition tool to meet their pressing cybersecurity challenges.