As a means of expediting the acquisition process, Air Force officials recently awarded more than 100 contracts to small businesses in 40 hours.
Officials said personnel from varied departments met at the AFWERX Innovation Hub in Austin, Texas to streamline contracting processes and develop new ways of doing business.
The overarching goal, per officials, was to accelerate the transfer of ideas from the lab bench to Airmen while increasing lethality and providing a technological advantage to warfighters.
“Evaluations and awards have typically taken up to six months to complete, so we did a number of things to shorten the schedule,” Ryan Helbach, Air Force Research Laboratory chief intrapreneur, said. “We did evaluations in under a one week, and the contracts in a second week such that within two weeks of the call for proposals closing, we had the companies on contract.”
The departments worked under the Small Business Innovation Research Program, which was formed with a goal to trim the amount of time it takes to award contracts to businesses. The team also made adjustments to the application process to better match what is familiar to the commercial world by receiving a pitch deck, or slide deck, for proposal applications as well as doing shorter durations for the actual contracts.
“It is definitely a change to the normal way of doing business,” Helbach said. “We’re able to better interact with non-traditional companies by working at the speeds they are used to, and all of the technology that’s being developed has dual-use aspects such as virtual reality or augmented reality. These technologies have a lot of commercial development, but also many military applications such as the pilot training program.”