GPS recruits: Uncle Sam wants your ideas!

January 27, 2016  - By
Image: GPS World

The GPS modernization funding picture cannot be called bright, yet neither can it be characterized as dim. While big money for big projects appears hard to come by, the U.S. government and military offer many smaller allocations to help fill the chinks in GPS armor. Such initiatives concern jamming, PNT solutions in GPS-denied environments and other conundrums. A run of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) requests for proposals have appeared recently.

A caveat: the U.S. government has some history of soliciting innovation from small firms, then awarding continuation of the work to big, established government contractors, under the rationale that these companies have capacity to carry out large-scale manufacturing.

The current batch of RFPs specify Phase I contracts that will, by statute, all go to small businesses, as will Phase II. The problem then — for these contract winners —is that follow-on work typically goes to large primes.

Jamming. The objective of a tender issued in December of last year, with a closing date of Feb. 17, is to “develop a ground-based GNSS Jammer Location capability utilizing a single GNSS receiver capable of estimating the position of a GNSS jammer within 100 meters, and estimating jammer position within 10 meters when networked with other sensors.”

The Department of Defense (DoD) continues: “Although many effective techniques exist, they primarily rely on airborne equipment, using either high demand, low density assets or dedicated aircraft such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). To enhance the future Navwar capabilities of DoD, a ground-based capability that can operate in urban canyons or mountainous terrain will provide a significant improvement to overarching Navwar capability. In some cases, jammers may be deployed on mobile ground vehicles in an urban environment, making them difficult to detect and track.”

DoD wants you to exploit opportunities offered by multipath and controlled radiation pattern antennas (CRPAs) to detect and locate 100-watt mobile jammers.

“Four alternatives should be evaluated: 1) a single GNSS receiver without a CRPA, 2) a single GNSS receiver with a CRPA, 3) two or more networked receivers without a CRPA, and 4) two or more GNSS receivers with a CRPA. For each alternative, assess the location accuracy, cost (both recurring and nonrecurring), and suitability for integrating in a ground vehicle.”

See the SBIR’s RFP here and the corresponding DoD document here

The DoD also offers stimulus funding for a range of other problems seeking a solution. The closing date is Feb. 17 for all of these, so sharpen your pencils and put on your thinking caps.

Contracts and Future Work. Concerning the follow-on work issue, Alison Brown, Co-Chair of the Government Contracting Working Group in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Regulatory Fairness Board, has written a white paper, “SBIR Regulatory Enforcement Issues,” available here. In it, she reviews the degree to which DoD complies with existing law. Congress has enacted Sec. 5108, mandating that  “To the greatest extent practicable, Federal agencies and Federal prime contractors shall issue Phase III awards relating to technology, including sole source awards, to the SBIR and STTR award recipients that developed the technology.”

Brown states that “currently there is no effective recourse for small businesses or avenues for enforcement of the current SBIR Regulations  within the DOD and other government agencies.” She recounts in the paper her own experience, as founder and CEO of NAVSYS Corporation.

NAVSYS developed and fielded a precision GPS navigation capability, Talon NAMATH, under a Phase III SBIR contract to Air Force Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP).  The systems was declared “provisionally operational” and used in theater in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Although the Talon NAMATH system was declared a huge success in theater, the follow-on contract for a fully operational system was awarded to Boeing.

Brown is also a longtime member of GPS World’s Editorial Advisory Board.

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About the Author: Alan Cameron

Alan Cameron is the former editor-at-large of GPS World magazine.