Defense Big Data Spending with Other Transaction Agreements, FY 2019 – 2021

Published: January 21, 2022

Federal Market AnalysisUSAFARMYBig DataContracting TrendsDEFENSEForecasts and SpendingInformation TechnologyNAVYSpending Trends

DOD reliance on OTAs for big data R&D programs continues in FY 2021.

Federal investment in big data solutions and services continues to increase year-over-year, with expected growth in the next several years. This is understandably so, as agencies attempt to harness vast amounts of data and utilize it to achieve mission and operational transformations and successes. Likewise, Department of Defense (DOD) investment in prototype and big data-related research and development initiatives is also on the rise, according to new Other Transaction Authority (OTA) spending figures. OTAs are the government’s way to acquire innovative prototypes in an accelerated manner, without the subjection of FAR requirements.

Total Big Data-Related OTA Spending, FY 2019-2021

From FY 2019 to 2021, DOD spent $756M in OTAs for big data-related prototypes, a 26% increase in the three-year period.

Of this total, DOD spent $21M in FY 2020 and 2021 in COVID-related OTAs, primarily at the Air Force.

And though the above figures reflect DOD OTA spending, it is worth noting that DHS also reported big data OTA awards from FY 2019 to 2021, totaling $502K. All OTA spending is out of DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate, and DHS OTA programs include OEM Privacy and Security Modeling for COVID-19 Contract Tracing/Phase 2 and Automated Gathering of OSINT Related to Biological Threats/Phase 2.

Big Data-Related OTA Spending by Defense Organization, FY 2019-2021

The following breakdown by DOD organization provides insight to the components relying heaviest on OTAs for big data R&D. Army ‘led the charge’ representing nearly 59% of the $756M total in the three-year period, followed by Defense Agencies with 19% of the total.

Nonetheless, each DOD component did not follow a steadily rising trajectory in OTA spending within the three years. At the Air Force, for example, spending peaked at $63M in FY 2020, falling to $45M in FY 2021. The spending peak was propelled by $18M in COVID-related big data OTAs in FY 2020 vs. $11M in FY 2021. Moreover, the Air Force’s Pilot Training Transformation initiative began in FY 2020 with funding peaking at $30M that year. For what it’s worth, the U.S. Space Force also reported some big data OTA spending under the Air Force which totaled $3.2M from FY 2019 to 2021.

At the Army, OTA spending decreased $57M in FY 2020, to $107M, and increased again in FY 2021 to $175M. The spending trajectory was largely influenced by the Army’s Modeling and Simulation program ($142M in FY 2019, $97M in FY 2020 and $155M in FY 2021).

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DAPRA) under Defense Agencies led OTA spending in the three-year period, totaling $92M. Defense Agency OTA spending peaked in FY 2020 with $72M before falling to $34M in FY 2021. The FY 2020 peak was driven by increased spending within several programs including Predictive Health ($63M), Innovative Concepts that Benefit the Warfighter by Leveraging Deep Learning Approaches ($7M), Directly Computable Physics Models ($5.5M), and Deceptive Neural Network Attack Signature Identification ($4M).

The majority of Navy’s OTA spending from FY 2019 to 2021 was driven by the Marine Corps, which totaled $32M in the three-year period. Navy OTA spending jumped from $1.9M in FY 2020 to $8.1M in FY 2021 with the start of two programs in FY 2021: Virtual Dynamic Wargaming Platform ($3.1M) and Compute Near Memory Device for Signal Processing and Deep Learning Acceleration ($2M).

As the above spending patterns dictate, OTA federal spending is dependent on the lifecycle of prototypes and R&D programs. Given big data’s rising popularity, it is safe to assume DOD will continue to rely on OTAs for the latest in data and analytics. For contractors, it is best to stay updated on industry outreach mechanisms DOD components are holding to identify innovative solutions (i.e. pitch days).   

For Deltek’s deep dive into the federal big data environment, please refer to the Federal Big Data Market, 2021-2023 report.