FAA Looking For Technology Development Partners

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The FAA is looking for private-sector partners to develop new avionics for use with satellite-based navigation, particularly the Wide Area Augmentation System. In a bid to spur interest from companies in developing the new devices, the agency is invoking a rarely used procurement method called other transaction authority (OTA). Under an OTA, the private company works hand-in-glove with the agency in developing new products and, once they're ready for use, the company retains all the intellectual property rights and can take the devices to market. The agency issued a request for information (RFI) targeting avionics manufacturers earlier this month. "The intent of the RFI is to solicit information from the targeted market to determine interest in partnering with the government to achieve these objectives," FAA spokesman Ted Urda told Federal Computer Week. Only a few government agencies have the ability to use the direct partnership route to acquire new technology and it's a departure for the FAA, which has relied, with mixed success, on the traditional tendering process to date. One of the main advantages is that small, innovative companies that would be overshadowed by the huge companies that normally bid on such projects can get the opportunity to work directly with the agency, rather than as a subcontractor to one of the large firms.