Friday, February 02, 2007

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Since its inception in 1958, DARPA has utilized the existing contracting organizations in the military services to award DARPA-funded contracts. These contracting organizations, along with the financial management activities that support them, are referred to as DARPA "Agents". DARPA's use of these 89+ agents has been governed by memoranda of agreement with the three services. In FY87, DARPA created its own internal contracting agent called the Contracts Management Office (CMO). CMO was never intended to replace the contracting agents in the military services, but rather to provide DARPA with additional contracting capability and flexibility in certain restricted areas critical to the DARPA mission. At first, CMO concentrated on prototyping projects. Over the years that mission concentration shifted to special support for consortium programs, fast-reaction projects, and awards under the DARPA agreement authority of 10 USC 2371. The CMO staff deliberately has been kept small (a total of 15 billets), but is highly-trained, highly-graded, and extremely productive, awarding approximately 27% of the total contracting dollars.
CMO has the authority to award contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, and "other" transactions. Although this provides great flexibility, it creates statistical and record-keeping problems which are not evident in most contracting organizations. For example, the CMO statistics on contract awards only are reported to the U.S. Army Contracting Support Agency through the DD350 system, the same system to which Army and other DoD agencies report their contract statistics. These CMO statistics, however, do not reflect the many millions of dollars awarded by CMO under grants, cooperative agreements, or other transactions. Those dollars must be captured in other data systems and combined with the Army contracting figures to give the true picture.

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