Major Capability Acquisition (MCA)

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Materiel Development Decision (MDD)

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Each page in this pathway presents a wealth of curated knowledge from acquisition policies, guides, templates, training, reports, websites, case studies, and other resources. It also provides a framework for functional experts and practitioners across DoD to contribute to the collective knowledge base. This site aggregates official DoD policies, guides, references, and more.

DoD and Service policy is indicated by a BLUE vertical line.

Directly quoted material is preceeded with a link to the Reference Source.

Reference Source: DODI 5000.85, Section 3.5


The MDD is the mandatory entry point into the major capability acquisition process and is informed by a validated requirements document (e.g., an initial capabilities document (ICD) or equivalent) and the completion of the analysis of alternatives (AoA) study guidance and the AoA study plan. The Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (DCAPE) (or DoD Component equivalent for ACAT II or below programs) will present the AoA study guidance, and the DoD Component will present the AoA study plan.  For MDAPs, DCAPE issues the AoA study guidance, and approves the AoA study plan.  The DoD Component will provide the plan to staff and fund program activities up to and including the next decision point, usually Milestone A.



  • The MDA will determine the acquisition phase of entry and the initial review milestone.
  • MDA decisions will be documented in an ADM.
  • The approved AoA study guidance and study plan will be attached to the ADM.

Reference Source: DODI 5000.85 Section 3.1.b


Decision Reviews

The purpose of decision reviews embedded in the acquisition procedures described in this section is to carefully assess a program’s readiness to proceed to the next acquisition phase and to make a sound investment decision committing the Department’s financial resources.  Consequently, reviews will be issue and data focused to facilitate an examination of relevant questions affecting the decisions under consideration and to allow the MDA to judge whether the program is ready to proceed.

  • The MDA is the sole and final decision authority.  Staff members and staff organizations support and facilitate the MDA's execution of that authority.
  • The Defense Acquisition Board will advise the DAE on critical acquisition decisions when the DAE, or designee, is the MDA.  The DAE or designee will chair the Defense Acquisition Board.  Similar procedures will be established at the DoD Component level for use by other MDAs.  An acquisition decision memorandum (ADM) will document decisions resulting from reviews.
  • Overarching Integrated Product Teams at the OSD level, and similar organizations within the DoD Components, are expected to collectively assist the MDA in making sound investment decisions for the department, and to ensure programs are structured and resourced to succeed.  These organizations are not decision bodies and they and their leaders do not supplant the authority of the PM, Program Executive Officer (PEO), component acquisition executive (CAE), or DAE.

See the Adaptive Acquisition Framework Document Identification (AAFDID) tool for the statutory and regulatory information required.

Sustainment Considerations

Reference Source: DODI 5000.85 Sec 3D.2.b.(4)

Early and Continuous Consideration of Sustainment Factors

Starting at MDD, with significant refinement by program inception, sustainment factors will be given full consideration at all key acquisition decisions throughout the program life cycle.  Consideration will include appropriate measures to reduce O&S costs, and to manage sustainment risks by addressing supportability early in system design and development, pursuant to Section 2337a of Title 10, U.S.C.  The continuous consideration of sustainment factors will lead to risk and cost reduction activities.


PSS Development and Implementation

The PSS satisfies the statutory requirement in Section 2337 of Title 10, U.S.C.  Paragraph 3D.3. details PSS requirements and planning factors.  Commencing at MDD and updated throughout the life cycle, an affordable and effective performance-based support package will be developed and employed to maximize competition; improve materiel availability, operational availability, reliability, and maintainability; and reduce operation and sustainment costs across the life cycle.  Pursuant to the sections of Title 10, U.S.C., identified in Subparagraphs 1. – 6., and in accordance with this issuance, the support package will be the basis for all sustainment efforts to achieve and sustain warfighter requirements and describe:

  1. Core logistics capability pursuant to Section 2464;
  2. Depot-level maintenance of materiel pursuant to Section 2466;
  3. Centers of industrial and technical excellence designation and public-private partnerships pursuant to Section 2474;
  4. IP strategy with the respective technical data rights pursuant to Section 2320, subsection (e);
  5. Acquisition strategy requirements related to logistics, maintenance, and sustainment, pursuant to Sections 2431a(c)(2)(J), 2464, and 2466; and in accordance with Paragraph 3C.3.a.(2) of this issuance;
  6. Requirements related to energy factors such as energy supportability, resilience, and conservation pursuant to Section 2926.


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