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 What is PlugFest PLUS? 


A “Plug Fest” is an industry best practice for validating and verifying (V&V) open system interoperability within a particular enterprise. Participating vendors “plug” their off-the-shelf hardware and/or software into a standards-based, instrumented, technology “Plug Test” harness. When applied to an information system, PlugFest participants are able to demonstrate their capabilities in live presentations or remotely from anywhere in the world – a virtual industry day.

PlugFest PLUS (PFP) is an Air Force effort to use innovation to accelerate IT acquisition under the Secretary's Bending The Cost Curve initiative. The objective is to develop the ability to use a PlugFest environment as part of a streamlined acquisition to allow the Air Force to objectively evaluate the capabilities of vendor offerings against a standards-driven baseline. The PlugFest PLUS environment will be a persistent, virtual testing environment that can support some types of IT acquition.

Using Other Transaction Authority

For more than 30 years, the Defense Department has been authorized by Congress to use Other Transaction Authorities (OTAs) as a means to expand the defense supply base through non-traditional contracts for research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) activities. OTA contracts are not subject to federal acquisition regulations (FAR) or any other body of regulation. This flexibility is intended to enable the Defense Department to overcome bureaucratic barriers that often prevent non-traditional defense contractors from pursuing government work.

Army Contracting Command (ACC) developed a novel structure for OTAs that creates subject-specific consortia of prospective vendors that can be placed on contract within a few weeks. In this structure, ACC contracts with a single entity – typically a 501(c)-3 nonprofit organization – that establishes an open consortium of vendors who are interested in pursuing government work in a given field. Any company (big or small) may become a member of the consortium, but any award must include non-traditional defense contractors, as defined by statute.

How OTA is Used

Typically, government customers release a call for white papers to the consortium through the managing organization. Customers review the white papers and request full proposals from those that appear qualified to meet the requirements. Once a winner is identified, funding is placed on contract with the managing organization which then disburses the funds to the selected consortium member. The average time from white paper to award is less than two months.

OTA and PlugFest PLUS

PlugFest Plus links the traditional PlugFest activities with an appropriate OTA consortium for information systems. All participants in PlugFest Plus events may be automatically deemed consortium members. Moreover, participation in PlugFest Plus events obviates the need for a white paper and, perhaps, a formal proposal. Hence, awards can conceivably be made in a matter of weeks following PlugFest Plus events. Staging regularly-occurring events (2-4 times per year) under this construct enables very rapid prototyping of information systems that are specifically-aligned with Air Force requirements.

The immediate goal for PFP is to demonstrate the concept with a small number of funded Air Force requirements for prototype development. Other programs may also be included in the demonstration. Successfully demonstrated offerings will eventually earn source selection, contract incentives, and/or pre-approved product status, with minimum bureaucracy, based on objective plug test results.