Major Capability Acquisition (MCA)
Materiel Solutions Analysis (MSA) Phase
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Reference Source: DODI 5000.85 Section 3.6
The purpose of this phase is to conduct the AoA and other activities needed to choose the concept for the product to be acquired, to begin translating validated capability gaps into system-specific requirements, and to conduct planning to support a decision on the acquisition strategy for the product.
- The MSA phase will be guided by the ICD and the AoA study plan. Phase activity will focus on identification and analysis of alternatives, measures of effectiveness, key trades between cost and capability, life-cycle cost, schedule, concepts of operations, and overall risk. The AoA will inform and be informed by affordability analysis, sustainment considerations, early systems engineering analysis, threat projections, and coalition interoperability as identified in the ICD.
- During this phase, the CAE will select a PM and establish a program office to complete the actions necessary to plan the acquisition program and prepare for the next decision point. The actions described in Paragraph 3.2.b. will be completed in time to support planning for the initial program milestone.
- MDAP MDAs will establish program goals consistent with the procedures in Paragraph 3C.3.(c)(1) of this issuance. An independent cost estimate (ICE) and independent technical risk assessment (ITRA) will be conducted before granting Milestone A approval for an MDAP.
- Product support (PS) and sustainment planning begin during this phase and support the determination of core logistics capability requirements.
- The phase ends when the DoD Component has completed the necessary analysis and the activities necessary to support a decision to proceed to the next decision point/phase in the acquisition process.
Reference Source: DAG CH 3-3.2.2 Materiel Solutions Analysis Phase
The following bullets summarize the primary inputs associated with this part of the life cycle. This assumes the next phase is TMRR, but most of the technical outputs would be applicable going into any follow-on phase.
- Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) (See CJCSI 5123.01H)
- Product of Capability Based Assessment (CBA) or equivalent
- Validated On-Line Life-cycle Threat (VOLT) Report (See DoDI 5000.02 (Enc 1, Table 2) and CH 7–4.1.2.)
- AoA Guidance and AoA Study Plan (See CH 2–2.3.)
- Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) (may contain additional direction)
- Other analyses generated pre-MDD
- Other prior analytic, prototyping and/or technology demonstration efforts conducted by the S&T community; technology insertion/transition can occur at any point in the life cycle
- Results of Market Research: 1) to identify existing technologies and products; and 2) to understand potential solutions, technologies, and sources
The ICD, AoA Guidance, and AoA Study Plan should be available prior to the start of the MSA phase. Results of other related analyses may be available, for example, from the Capability Based Assessment (see CH 3–4.2.1. Stakeholder Requirements Definition Process) or other prior analytic and/or prototyping efforts conducted by the S&T community.
The MSA phase activities begin after a favorable MDD review has been held and end when the phase-specific entrance criteria for the next program milestone, designated by the MDA, have been met.
The major blocks of technical activities in the MSA phase include:
- Conduct AoA. Includes all activities and analyses conducted by the AoA Study team under the direction of the Senior Advisory Group/Executive Steering Committee (SAG/ESC) and CAPE, or Service equivalent. Concludes with a final SAG/ESC and AoA Report. Systems Engineers should support this activity.
- Perform Analysis to Support Selection of a Preferred Materiel Solution. Includes all engineering activities and technical analysis performed to support Service selection of the preferred materiel solution by balancing cost, performance, schedule and risk.
- Perform Operational Analysis on Preferred Materiel Solution. Supports the definition of the performance requirements in the operational context, Functional Capabilities Board (FCB) review and the development of the draft CDD. The Systems Engineer should support the operational requirement/user/operational test community to ensure the Concept of Operations/Operational Mode Summary/Mission Profile (CONOPS/OMS/MP) is detailed enough to verify and validate system performance and operational capability. This activity could include the development of design reference missions/use cases that assist in the verification and validation process. Through analysis, the Systems Engineer also helps to identify key technology elements, determine external interfaces and establish interoperability requirements.
- Perform Engineering and Technical Analysis on Preferred Materiel Solution. This includes all engineering activities and technical analysis performed on the Service-selected preferred materiel solution in support of the development and maturation of a materiel solution concept, associated system performance specification and technical plans for the next phase.
- Establish Program Framework and Strategies. All activities to converge on the overarching strategies and plans for the acquisition of the system. Attention should be given to identifying and documenting agreements with external organizations. This documentation should include, for example, the contributions of S&T organizations and plans for transitioning technology into a program.
- Prepare for Initial Review Milestone and Next Phase. Includes all activities to compile technical and programmatic analysis and plans to meet the entrance criteria for the next program milestone designated by the MDA.
The technical review typically conducted in the MSA phase is the Alternative Systems Review (ASR).
Systems Engineering in the MSA Phase
Reference Source: DAG CH 3-3.2.2 Material Solution Analysis Phase
The objective of the Materiel Solution Analysis (MSA) phase is to select and adequately describe a preferred materiel solution to satisfy the phase-specific entrance criteria for the next program milestone designated by the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA). Prior to completion of the MSA Phase, the Component Acquisition Executive (CAE) selects a Program Manager (PM) and establishes a Program Office to complete the necessary actions associated with planning the acquisition program. Usually, but not always, the next milestone is a decision to invest in technology maturation, risk reduction activities and preliminary design in the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) phase. The systems engineering (SE) activities in the MSA phase result in several key products. First, a system model and/or architecture is developed that captures operational context and envisioned concepts, describes the system boundaries and interfaces, and addresses operational and functional requirements. Second, a preliminary system performance specification is developed that defines the performance of the preferred materiel solution. Third, the Systems Engineer advises the PM on what is to be prototyped, why and how.
During the MSA phase, the program team identifies a materiel solution to address user capability gaps partially based on an Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) (i.e., analysis of the set of candidate materiel solutions) led by the Director, Cost Analysis and Program Evaluation (CAPE) and conducted by a designated DoD Component. Once the Service sponsor selects a preferred materiel solution, the program team focuses engineering and technical analysis on this solution to ensure development plans, schedule, funding and other resources match customer needs and match the complexity of the preferred materiel solution. SE activities should be integrated with MSA phase-specific test, evaluation, logistics and sustainment activities identified in CH 8–4.1. and CH 4–3.1.
This phase has two major blocks of activity: (1) the AoA; and (2) the post-AoA operational analysis and concept engineering to prepare for a next program milestone designated by the MDA (see Figure 10: Activities in Materiel Solution Analysis Phase).
The AoA team considers a range of alternatives and evaluates them from multiple perspectives as directed by the AoA Guidance and AoA Study Plan. Engineering considerations including technical risk should be a component of the AoA Guidance and be addressed in the AoA Study Plan.
The objective of the AoA is to analyze and characterize each alternative (or alternative approach) relative to the others. The AoA does not result in a recommendation for a preferred alternative; it provides information that the Service sponsor uses to select which materiel solution to pursue. The Systems Engineer should participate in the AoA to help analyze performance and feasibility and to optimize alternatives. Using the AoA results, the Service sponsor may conduct additional engineering analysis to support the selection of a preferred materiel solution from the remaining trade space of candidate materiel solutions. After choosing the preferred materiel solution, the Service sponsor matures the solution in preparation for the next program milestone designated by the MDA.
After the AoA, program systems engineers establish the technical performance requirements consistent with the draft Capability Development Document (CDD), required at the next program milestone designated by the MDA, assuming it is Milestone A. These requirements form the basis for the system performance specification placed on contract for the TMRR phase; they also inform plans to mitigate risk in the TMRR phase.
In the MSA phase, the DoD Component combat developer (e.g., Requirements Manager) prepares a Concept of Operations/Operational Mode Summary/Mission Profile (CONOPS/OMS/MP), consistent with the validated/approved capability requirements document, typically an Initial Capabilities Document. The CONOPS/OMS/MP includes the operational tasks, events, durations, frequency, operating conditions and environment in which the recommended materiel solution is to perform each mission and each phase of a mission. The CONOPS/OMS/MP informs the MSA phase activities and the development of plans for the next phase.
During MSA, several planning elements are addressed to frame the way forward for the MDA’s decision at the next program milestone. SE is a primary source for addressing several of these planning elements. The planning elements include:
- Capability need, architecture
- System concept, architecture
- Key interfaces (including external interfaces and dependencies)
- Acquisition approach
- Engineering/technical approach
- Test and evaluation approach
- Program management approach
- External dependencies/agreements
See CH 3–4.1.1. Technical Planning Process. These planning elements are documented in various program plans such as the Acquisition Strategy (AS), Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP), Program Protection Plan (PPP), next-phase Request for Proposal (RFP) and the Systems Engineering Plan (SEP). The SEP describes the SE efforts necessary to provide informed advice to these other planning artifacts (see the SEP Outline).
SE provides, for example, the technical basis for TMRR phase planning and execution, including identification of critical technologies, development of a competitive and risk reduction prototyping strategy and establishment of other plans that drive risk-reduction efforts. This early SE effort lays the foundation for the TMRR phase contract award(s) and preliminary designs, which confirm the system’s basic architecture.
Roles and Responsibilities in the MSA Phase
Reference Source: DAG CH 3-3.2.2 Materiel Solutions Analysis Phase
In addition to the general responsibilities identified in CH 3–2.5. Engineering Resources, the Program Manager focuses on the following MSA activities, which rely on and support SE efforts:
- Preparing for and supporting source selection activities for the upcoming phase solicitation and contract award
- Supporting the requirement community with the development of the draft CDD, assuming the next phase is TMRR
- Developing the AS, which incorporates necessary risk-reduction activities
- Staffing the program office with qualified (trained and experienced) systems engineers
In addition to the general roles and responsibilities described in CH 3–2.5. Engineering Resources, during this phase it is the Systems Engineer’s responsibility to:
- Lead and manage the execution of the technical activities in this phase
- Measure and track the system’s technical maturity
- Identify technologies that should be included in an assessment of technical risk.
- Perform trade studies
- Support preparations for the RFP package and assist in structuring the evaluation teams for technical aspects of the review
- Develop the system performance specification. See CH 3–4.1.6. Configuration Management Process. A particular program’s naming convention for specifications should be captured in the SEP and other plans and processes tailored for the program
- Ensure integration of key design considerations into the system performance specification
- Develop technical approaches and plans, and document them in the SEP.
- Ensure the phase technical artifacts are consistent and support objectives of the next phase
Risk Management in the MSA Phase
Reference Source: DoD Risk, Issue, and Opportunity Management Guide for Defense Acquisition Programs, Jan 2017, Section 2.3
In the MSA phase, the program conducts the analyses and other activities needed to finalize the concept of operations for the program product, refine the requirements, and conduct planning to support a decision on the acquisition strategy for the product. A key risk management activity during this phase is an engineering analysis of the ICD to better identify risks during the AoA. The program should evaluate requirements for technical feasibility, quantify gaps, and focus on contributing technology components. Engineering analyses should focus on the affordability analysis, risk analysis, risk management planning, and trades among cost, schedule, and performance.
Acquisition sponsors should consider providing industry with draft technical requirements. Funded competitive concept definition studies (e.g., early design trade studies and operations research) can also inform decisions about requirements and are valuable to help refine and support requirements definition. Early industry feedback provides critical insight into the trade-offs among requirements, risks, and costs.
The Service sponsor plans for an AoA to support the selection of a materiel solution. This planning includes both the AoA Guidance and an AoA Study plan. These guide the study team to assess cost, schedule, technical, and programmatic risk to inform the available trade space and cost-benefit analysis to shape affordable technical development. AoA focus areas should include uncertainty (or confidence level) associated with each alternative’s schedule estimate, proposed performance, and technical risks. The AoA study team should assess each of the following for realism relative to prior analyses and related systems:
- Interfaces and dependencies that involve other programs and the maturity and risks associated with the interfaces themselves (integration risk).
- Critical technologies required for each alternative: What is the present maturity of each? What are the risks associated with bringing the critical technologies to the needed levels of maturity in a timely and cost-effective manner (technology risk)?
- Framing assumptions: Are these assumptions still valid? What are the risks and impacts of an incorrect assumption?
Following the selection of the preferred materiel solution, the PM should conduct an Alternative System Review (ASR) to support a dialogue between the end user and acquisition community, leading to a draft performance specification for the preferred materiel solution. The PM should also establish the program risk register to ensure the program has identified, analyzed, and established mitigation plans for all relevant risks.
By the end of the MSA phase, the program has focused on a single materiel solution and needs to plan for the next phase of activity. The maturity of the design and the nature of remaining risks will drive the decision about which phase will come next (i.e., Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR), EMD, or Production and Deployment (P&D) phase). The program should address these risks in the RFP and program plans.
Suggested Activities in the MSA Phase to Reduce Risk
- Establish an affordability goal and schedule and performance margins.
- Develop design concepts to assess the state of the possible and inform the requirements, the draft RFP and Request for Information (RFI), and source selection activities.
- Avoid constraining the design trade space (e.g., minimize the number of Key Performance Parameters (KPP) and Key System Attributes (KSA), per the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) Manual).
- Ensure the government and bidders have a complete and common understanding of the requirements
- Solicit industry feedback regarding the feasibility of requirements, unit costs, and maturity of technologies via industry days, meetings with prospective bidders, and RFIs.
- Hold a government-only requirements review to ensure the proper translation of the user requirements into the performance specification.
- Where appropriate, define the requirement in the performance specification for open systems architectures and interfaces, which can reduce the costs and time for changes or upgrades.
- Identify system (hardware and software) assurance risks early to ensure system requirements, design, and architecture will produce a secure system in operations.
- Ensure critical technologies are achievable. Risks should be manageable within schedule and resource constraints. Limit the number of critical technologies, as appropriate.
- Structure TMRR phase activities to validate performance during build, integration, and test to ensure requisite performance can be demonstrated by EMD.
- Ensure TMRR phase proposals include assessments of the maturity of proposed technologies. Validate with independent subject matter expert (SME) risk assessment.
- Collaborate with the S&T community to develop relevant technology, and request S&T dollars to mature key technologies.
- Focus the competitive prototyping strategy (if selected) on burning down the most critical technical risks (e.g., technology, engineering, and integration).
- Ensure the next phase RFP requires the contractors’ proposals to include:
- Contractor testing with defined success criteria before the start of government testing
- A requirement for contractors to identify problematic requirements as well as the cost and schedule associated with the requirements in their proposals to support the early maturation of the Capability Development Document (CDD) requirements.
- Ensure the TMRR phase RFP requires bidding contractors to identify risks and to provide an integration plan, an Integrated Master Schedule (IMS) through prototype delivery, and drawings/models so the government can assess (1) the contractors’ understanding of the technical risks and (2) the required planning to execute the plans.
- Develop a realistic program schedule, with appropriate phasing, which reflects consideration of relevant historical schedules as opposed to relying solely on an externally imposed timeline.
- Be event-driven versus schedule-driven to ensure risks are mitigated before the program proceeds to the next phase; ensure the schedule reflects an acceptable level of concurrency.
- Establish communication: horizontal, across Integrated Product Teams (IPT) and joint risk boards; and vertical, up through management on both the government and contractor sides. Continue through all life cycle phases.
- Engage senior leadership from within the acquiring command, sponsor, and user community to manage program risks.
- Build an external senior leader stakeholder group and working groups.
- Ensure stakeholders understand the basis for the technical requirements so they feel ownership for appropriate risk reduction activities.
Sustainment Planning in the MSA Phase
Reference Source: DAG CH 4-3.1 Material Solution Analysis Phase
Sustainment planning begins at the earliest stages of the defense acquisition system. Successful post- fielding sustainment performance depends on thoughtful consideration during requirements development and solution analysis. The Materiel Solution Analysis (MSA) Phase provides the first opportunity to influence the supportability and affordability of weapon systems by balancing Warfighter requirements and operational capabilities with support capacity, capability, and cost.
An approved Materiel Development Decision (MDD) begins the MSA Phase and the Milestone A decision completes the phase. Prior to program office stand-up, which may be the case during the MDD and Analysis of Alternatives (AoA), the LCLs are responsible for initiating sustainment planning. Once the program office is initiated (usually before Milestone A), the PM and PSM assume primary responsibility for sustainment planning.
- Definition/Decomposition of Warfighter’s Sustainment Requirements
- Framing the Baseline Product Support Strategy
- Core Determination
- Predecessor System Strengths/Weaknesses, Warfighter Priorities
- Defining Strategy for Analytical Process
- Cost Drivers, Availability Degraders
- Sustainment Technologies Requiring Development
- Affordability Goals
- Alignment of AoA Results/Acquisition Strategy/Warfighter Requirements
Reference Source: DAG CH 4-3.1.3 Sustainment Planning
DoD Components should begin product support planning as soon as the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) determines that a materiel solution is needed to satisfy the capability requirement.
During the MSA Phase, the PM (or LCL if a program office has not yet been initiated), develops a sustainment strategy based on the results of the AoA and trade studies, and recommends refinements to Warfighter requirements and sustainment metrics. The PM coordinates with the requirements, operations, and systems engineering communities to analyze the intended use of the capability and identify design considerations that enhance the operational suitability, sustainability, and affordability. The PM identifies and quantifies O&S Cost and readiness drivers as an integral part of the AoA and MSA and pursues opportunities for improvement.
Sustainment planning during MSA includes determining the capabilities and major constraints (e.g., cost, schedule, available technologies) that inform the acquisition strategy and program structure for both the system design and its sustainment. PMs explore alternative sustainment strategies. Based on the early system concept, the program may investigate different options for sustainment strategies that consider how best to use the government’s investment in existing support infrastructure, maintenance capacity, supply support, and unique support capabilities offered by industry.
The PM uses trade studies and analyses to compare alternative sustainment strategies. Then, the PM establishes a baseline sustainment strategy based on the legacy system, analogous systems, existing component/sub-component level repair, and Warfighter and DoD Component preferences. This strategy includes an outline of product support, levels of repair, manpower, schedule, etc. The sustainment strategy is articulated in a draft LCSP.
The PM uses the systems engineering process to assess technological risk that might result in failure to achieve performance requirements. As the PM considers system design alternative risk and opportunity analyses of candidate technologies, the PM should also consider the risks to achieving reliability goals, maintainability of the technology in its intended environment, and life cycle cost implications of the candidate technology. Risk considerations may include repair technologies that may need to be created and changes to the existing skill sets of maintenance personnel. The PM also identifies opportunities to apply new technologies and techniques that can enhance the maintainability of equipment and reduce life cycle cost.
The PM uses the supportability analyses to develop a maintenance plan for the new system. This maintenance plan is part of the draft LCSP. The PM drafts a maintenance plan by comparing the legacy system with the intended use/environment of the emerging system, along with knowledge of the developing technology. The PM identifies when maintenance is likely to be required and at which level of maintenance (organizational, intermediate, or depot). The PM, working with systems engineers, drafts scheduled and unscheduled maintenance tasks based on engineering assessments of failure modes and effects, wear-out rates, life limits, need for corrosion inspections, etc. The PM considers conceptual system design(s) and uses the initial removal rate estimates for each replaceable/repairable item to forecast likely requirements, including spares and repair parts.
Core logistics capability (See US Code Title 10, 2464) is required to ensure a stable source of technical competence to ensure effective and timely response to mobilization, national defense contingency situations, or other emergency requirements. Programs undergo a core determination process to evaluate whether the statutory requirements apply and informs the program’s 2366a certification submission.
The core depot determination is based on whether the legacy platform was deemed core or if the new system supports a Joint Chiefs of Staff tasking. The determination process is governed by DoDI 4151.20.
Level of Maintenance
The maintenance plan identifies the planned levels of maintenance used to sustain the weapon system. The maintenance plan includes an outline of levels of repair, including core organic depot maintenance when applicable, as well as the supply support plan.
During this phase, the PM establishes multidisciplinary integrated product teams (IPTs) that achieve the performance outcomes by integrating individual logistics support elements or technical disciplines. Teams include representatives from stakeholder organizations, including DoD Component headquarters, operational and logistics commands, and industry. IPTs include expertise from disciplines such as engineering, cost estimation, resource management, contracting, information technology, supply, maintenance, corrosion control, and transportation. The PM should ensure that IPTs for systems engineering, testing, cost estimating, resource management, and contract development include logistics expertise and stakeholder participants.
Reference Source: DAG CH 4–126.96.36.199 Life Cycle Sustainment Plan in MSA
Life Cycle Sustainment Plan
During the MSA Phase, the PM drafts the LCSP based on the baseline product support strategy. The LCSP draws on sustainment assumptions, analysis, and decisions determined in the AoA, requirements, technology development strategy, and acquisition strategy. The LCSP to support Milestone A includes a definition/decomposition of Warfighter sustainment requirements and contains the framing assumptions for product support strategy development.
The LCSP includes the plan to determine cost and availability drivers, the Core Depot Determination, the results of analysis of legacy/analogous system sustainment strengths and weaknesses, and Warfighter requirements. The LCSP also identifies key sustainment technologies and addresses affordability targets.
Additionally, the PM uses the LCSP to aid in developing the RFP requirements, including specifications, statements of objectives, statements of work, and proposed deliverable data items.
Reference Source: DAG CH 4-188.8.131.52.1 Cost Estimating
To prepare the program for the Milestone A decision, the PM is involved in two major efforts related to O&S Cost estimating: the development of the LCSP and the development of the Independent Cost Estimate (ICE), Service Cost Position (SCP), and/or Program Office Estimate (POE). The LCSP annotated outline contains a full description of the O&S Cost information required to support the Milestone A decision.
The CAPE ICE, SCP, and/or POE cost estimates at Milestone A cover the entire life cycle, focusing on major cost drivers. A cost driver is a factor that influences or contributes to the cost. Major cost drivers are those inputs that change the total O&S Cost the most in absolute value (e.g., fuel consumption, number of units, program life span). If the MDA decides to carry forward multiple alternatives from the AoA, the Milestone A estimate includes each alternative’s LCCE.
It is important to include all O&S Cost elements (as defined in the CAPE Operating & Support Cost-Estimating Guide) since the ICE/SCP/POE becomes the basis for the budget after the Milestone A decision. For each CAPE O&S Cost element, the PM provides relevant requirements to the O&S Cost estimator.
Cost estimates at this phase rely on analogy to legacy/analogous systems. Cost estimators may ask the PM to identify legacy/analogous systems. Legacy/analogous systems are those that perform the same (or similar) mission or share technical characteristics with the system being estimated.
Cost estimators use the Cost Analysis Requirements Description (CARD) as the detailed description of the acquisition program to baseline the estimate. The CARD is a technical description of the program. The CAPE provides more information on the CARD in the DoDI 5000.73. In the CARD, the PM defines the sustainment and logistics technical baseline in enough detail that the cost estimator can develop a credible estimate that reflects the planned sustainment strategy. The PM uses the O&S, the Quantities and O&S Time Phased, and the Manpower Time Phased sections of the CARD template (available in the CAPE Cost Assessment Data Enterprise) to determine the data inputs required.
Reference Source: DAG CH 4–184.108.40.206.2 Program Office Programming and Budgeting Activities
The PMs input at Milestone A focuses on funding requirements necessary to mature critical technology and reduce risks for the logistics and sustainment capabilities that comprise the materiel solution. Funding for important logistics and sustainment-related studies and analyses following Milestone A should support updates to the AoA and market research, as well as the Cost as an Independent Variable, Supportability, and Technology Risk Reduction assessments. Other funding considerations include those needed to establish the Supportability Integrated Product Team and the Integrated Logistics Support Management Program, as well as funds needed to initiate a Product Support BCA.
Reference Source: DAG CH 4–220.127.116.11.3 Should Cost
Examining the O&S Cost drivers of legacy/analogous programs used in the Milestone A cost estimates points to likely targets for Should Cost initiatives in the new system. The O&S Cost Management Guidebook provides a full description of the types of analyses that help to identify O&S Cost drivers.
Reference Source: DAG CH 8-4.1 Materiel Solution Analysis Phase
The purpose of this phase is to:
- Conduct the analysis and other activities needed to choose the concept for the product acquired.
- Translate validated capability gaps into system-specific requirements.
- Conduct planning to support a decision on the acquisition strategy for the product.
Key activities in this phase include:
- Designation of a Chief Developmental Tester and Lead DT&E Organization.
- Chartering a T&E WIPT and RAM IPT.
- Analysis of Alternative solutions.
- Key trades between cost and performance.
- Affordability analysis.
- Risk analysis.
- Planning for risk mitigation.
- Developing T&E strategy and plans.
- Review of threats and Intelligence Mission Data (IMD) identified or implied in the Integrated Threat Environment Assessment (ITEA) (NOTE: Soon to be replaced by the Validated Online Life-cycle Threat (VOLT)).
This phase ends when a Component has completed the necessary analysis and the activities necessary to support a decision to proceed to the next decision point and desired phase in the acquisition process. System testing does not occur before Milestone A.
Reference Source: DAG CH 8-4.1.2 T&E Role in Milestone A Decision
The Milestone A decision approves program entry into the TMRR Phase. Prior to Milestone A approval, the Chief Developmental Tester ensures approval of the initial TEMP developed during the Materiel Solution Analysis (MSA) Phase. The RFP informs the Milestone A TEMP.
The responsible DoD Component may decide to perform technology maturation and risk reduction work in-house and/or award contracts associated with the conduct of this phase.