JB MDL Pitch Day Using a Commercial Solutions Opening

Did you happen to record the AMA and post it anywhere?


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We didn’t record it but we updated each area of interest with the applicable questions and answers from the AMA. See amendment on FBO here.

Our first round closed on 17 May (we’re keeping it open for future proposals and updated areas of interest). We received 72 proposals. We’re working through the evaluations to get Pitch invites out by the end of the month.

JB MDL Pitch Day will be 10 June at NJIT in Newark NJ.

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Are you buying an idea or a product/service?

There are a few approaches people are trying. At JB MDL, in order to make a payment at the event, we were initially considering adding a CLIN for a successful pitch. Then when you sign the contract, you pay out the successful pitch CLIN using GPC. When the product/service is delivered, the Govt would make payment for that CLIN(s).

We’ve since changed our approach and plan to request approval to make a 15% advance payment at the contract level to facilitate the initial payment via GPC at the event. The contract will be for delivery of an innovative product or service. We submitted a class approval for any other Air Force Contracting office using the same process.

We are using a 2-step process (white paper / pitch deck -> pitch) where the pitch acts as the proposal in the form of an oral presentation.

Our approach may not be feasible if people are using the 3-step (white paper -> pitch -> proposal) process from DIUx, see below. Under those procedures, you wouldn’t have a final contract for the product/service at the conclusion of the pitch.


Here’s a brochure we plan to use at small business events. Our first round closed on 17 May, but we plan to keep our CSO open for additional proposals and/or updated Areas of Interest.

Sir, what can the vendors expect in terms of resultant contract/agreement? Is it expected to be a Part 12 contract or purchase order with FAR/DFAR/AFFAR clauses or a tailored OTA? I’m assuming that CSOs are typically Part 12 orders/contracts. Just wondering if that info is posted in the CSO.

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The SAF/AQC Policy Memo on the SAF/AQC CSO page states you can award either an OT agreement or contract from a CSO. We intend to award a contract or order using FAR part 12.

We’ve attached a 1-page (front/back) model contract to the FBO announcement. It is a FAR part 12 based purchase order with applicable FAR clauses. The CLINs in the model contract say initial/final report, but we will add the product or service as the CLIN(s). Those are a carry-over from the SBIR contract at Air Force Pitch Day.

It almost fits on my phone screen

I think a lot of the excitement around OTs is the white paper solicitation process. The CSO gives you that type of solicitation and you don’t need to figure out the OT. I would only consider an OT from a CSO if a vendor or specific industry had an issue with any of the FAR part 12 terms & conditions.

Axel, thanks for the phone discussion and post. At a recent AFWERX event in Vegas, there was guidance released that suggested that the CSO process was for procuring ideas. The class deviation memo states, “contracting officers my acquire commercial items, technologies, and services using the CSO.” This is more in line with what we, 700 CONS/86 AW, are after. Since we’re overseas, we’d like to gauge interest from industry on what firms (US small businesses and local European companies) are interested in pursuing a CSO/Pitch Day opportunity with Ramstein Air Base. Our sources sought can be found here and we appreciate any feedback:

Thanks to JB MDL for leading the way for AF CONS!


Awesome! Have you considered providing the option for companies to pitch via video chat (e.g. Skype, Google Hangout, or GoToMeeting)? AFWERX recently hosted an SBIR Virtual Collider Event hosted on video chat and I thought it worked well.


Yes, we have. That’s probably worth adding to the RFI. Good catch!


Here are some photos from the JB MDL Pitch Day. Ten small businesses pitched their innovative solutions and JB MDL awarded five contracts the day of the event.

Here is the Public Affairs release for the event:

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Way to go 6 CONS!

Did you guys have a slide show you used to brief leadership on what you’re doing? Would love to borrow that if you do

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I have a podcast my buddy and I record for fun. In the last episode we discussed JB MDL Pitch Day for anyone interested in additional info.


Here is an article we released with PA help to highlight what capability was delivered following JBMDL Pitch Day. It also discusses some unexpected wins with unsuccessful offerors.

The Contracting Experience - Episode 19: JB MDL Commercial Solutions Opening

In this next episode, we are going to try something a little different. MSG Mic’d Up is a podcast hosted by 87th Contracting Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Axel Clark. The podcast offers on-demand interviews and stories from around the 87th Mission Support Group at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ. Hear from leadership across the joint base and get up to date on the latest MSG 2020+ initiatives. Lt. Col. Clark recorded an episode for The Contracting Experience to feature the base’s latest innovation initiative.

In Spring 2019, the 87th Contracting Squadron at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst took on Air Force Leadership’s innovation challenge to “Think Big, Start Small, and Scale Fast” by hosting the first-ever base-level Pitch Day event using a Commercial Solutions Opening. In this next episode, 87th Contracting Squadron Commander Clark leads a discussion with the Contracting Officer and Contract Specialist that executed the effort, Tech. Sgt. Dustin Golden and Maggie Falkner. Clark and his team’s enthusiastic conversation about trying something different and working with non-traditional vendors to get commercial solutions to the warfighter is fun to listen to. They are candid in sharing their lessons learned and are eager to see how other teams put their own spin on the CSO process.

JB MDL – Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst
NJIT – New Jersey Institute of Technology
SBIR – Small Business Innovation Research
BAA – Broad Agency Announcement
CSO – Commercial Solutions Opening
O&M – Operations & Maintenance Funds
PTAC – Procurement Technical Assistance Center
MOU – Memorandum of Understanding
AFRL – Air Force Research Laboratory

ARTICLE: Innovation challenge accepted! JB MDL hosts first-ever base level Pitch Day event

ARTICLE: Joint Base MDL Pitch Day Delivers Results!

Questions for 87 CONS on the CSO: 87CONS.CSO.Team@us.af.mil

Thanks to @Amber for given us the opportunity to share our story!!

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Here’s the next round of base-level CSO / Pitch Days:

MacDill Pitch Day


Take a look to see what people are doing in FY20!

JB MDL issued its FY20 Operational Pitch Days / CSO announcement here: https://beta.sam.gov/opp/b974b476568f408999364c5ceb60ba58/view

Notable changes from FY19 include:

  1. Multi-base Areas of Interest (MacDill, Dover, Eielson, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam)
  2. Open call for proposals (continuous evaluations/pitches instead of a single pitch day event)
  3. Optional video pitch with initial proposal
  4. Units may conduct virtual pitches (or in some cases award contract based on initial proposal)

Following JB MDL Pitch Day, a number of unsuccessful offerors applied and received SBIR phase I contracts (based on info we included in debriefings) and came back to JB MDL SMEs to sign MOUs for Phase II proposals.

Read more here:

SBIRs are a critical component of an innovation ecosystem at a base. To read more about how everything ties together check out this awesome article:

Case in point: the Defense Department’s Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program. This program has been the focus of much of my recent research on the impact of public funding on startup growth, and so it is a program I am both well familiar with and a big supporter of. However, the traditional program approach limits itself to a small set of companies — specifically, those companies who are both well versed in the requirements-first acquisition process and uniquely specialized to meet highly specified requirements. Currently, the program takes a requirement-first approach by publishing problems (i.e., topics) against which they award contracts for innovative small companies to solve. These topics are written by military organizations who use the opportunity to publish their requirements with the hope that companies will submit proposals to solve them. Last year, the Defense Department published nearly 1,000 unique topics — 1,000 problems to solve. How is a company, unfamiliar with the defense acquisition system, supposed to sort through 1,000 problems to find the one that they can solve, and do so in an efficient manner? How much flexibility is there to reframe the problem to better fit the solution? And what is a company’s incentive to undertake all of the work to do so?

There are simple steps for the program to start to act as a platform. For example, instead of posting 1,000 “problem” topics, post one “open topic.” The open topic would allow any company with a commercial solution to apply for funding to find problems to solve. Given some preliminary award metrics (e.g., commercial viability of the company, applicability to national security), an acquisition office could fund companies to perform customer discovery. It would give the innovative small companies a chance to see how their novel solution might reframe, and be reframed by, military users’ problems, and thus be more acceptable to those companies seeking to introduce external innovation to the Defense Department.

If we write our CSO correctly, it can act as both a call for solutions to specific problems and an open call for any solutions to increase mission effectiveness, lethality and/or readiness.