Middle Tier of Acquisition (MTA)

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Acquisition Strategy & Documentation

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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 5000.80, Paragraph 3.2.c


Acquisition and Funding Strategies.DoD Components will develop and implement acquisition and full funding strategies for the program. This process will result in an acquisition strategy, which includes security, schedule and production risks, and a cost estimate.


Reference Source: DODI 5000.80, Paragraph 4.1.a


Rapid fielding acquisition strategies will include security, schedule, and production risks; either a test strategy or an assessment of test results; and a transition plan that includes a timeline for completion within 2 years of all necessary documentation required for transition, as determined by the Decision Authority (DA), after MTA program start.

Check out the MTA FAQs and MTA Tips for potentially related questions from the field and helpful tips!

Product Support Strategy

Reference Source: Guidance from ASD(Sustainment), Jan 2020

Product Support strategy development and implementation is iterative. The Product Support Manager (PSM) and Program Manager (PM) collaborate throughout the iterative process of strategy development and implementation. Programs will need to conduct appropriate product support analysis in order to develop a best value product support strategy tailored to the program requirements. Specific focus and emphasis must be placed on what is required to achieve the end-state objectives, and how to effectively build the necessary information to support the transition of the capability to operations and sustainment as defined in the transition plan. Programs will need to conduct appropriate product support analysis in order to develop a best value product support strategy tailored to the program requirements.

A core aspect of product support strategy development and implementation is the Product Support Business Model (PSBM) that provides a hierarchical framework in which the planning, development, implementation, management and execution of product support for a weapon system component, subsystem, or system platform will be accomplished over the lifecycle.

As annotated in DODI 5000.80, a PSM will be designated for each program using that particular pathway. A core PSM responsibility includes guiding the PM in development of a best value [Defined as the tradeoff between cost and performance that provides the greatest overall benefit to the warfighter and the taxpayer], outcome-based product support solution that optimizes lifecycle cost and readiness. When developing the overarching support construct, PSMs must apply critical thinking aligned to the Adaptive Acquisition Framework concept of “tailoring-in” specifically within the context of the rapid prototyping and/or fielding end-state objectives.

Reference Source: Guidance from ASD(Sustainment), Jan 2020
(Based on 
Product Support Manager Guidebook, Dec 2019)

The PSM, working for the PM, is responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive product support strategy and for adjusting performance requirements and resource allocations across Product Support Integrators (PSIs) and Product Support Providers (PSPs) as needed to implement this strategy. The Product Support Business Model (PSBM) recognizes two fundamental axioms of product support:

  • With rare exception, every product support strategy is dependent on both organic and commercial industry support. The intent of the PSM is to determine through considered analysis the best blend of public and private resources, and the partnering relationship between those entities, to achieve an effective product support strategy that delivers Warfighter operational readiness.
  • The objective of the product support strategy is to achieve Warfighter operational readiness outcomes. Achieving these outcomes is dependent on optimizing the IPS elements that comprise the support strategy.

The ultimate strategy will strike the proper balance between operational suitability and affordability.


Supportability Risk

Reference Source: Guidance from ASD(Sustainment), Jan 2020

During the planning phase PSMs should advise the PM on supportability risk, core tailored strategy elements necessary to address the risk, and how decisions points will re-evaluate if the risk is still within an organizational risk tolerance level. Specifically, identification of top O&S cost drivers and capability maturation efforts should be aligned to key decision points. The Sustainment Maturity Level (SML) tool can be used to help assess which specific IPS elements provide either the most design flexibility or constraint and their overall effect on operational readiness and life-cycle costs. Additionally, the Army Life Cycle Impact Analysis Tool (LCIAT) provides a similar Technology Readiness and Sustainment Maturity Level mapping capability to highlight specific risk areas within the IPS elements.


Transition Points

Reference Source: Guidance from ASD(Sustainment), Jan 2020

Finally, as part of the overall supportability risk mitigation profile, SMLs should identify potential “pivot points” should the SML not increase to a sufficient level with the desired end state. As an example, if a program were planning to go from rapid prototyping to rapid fielding, at what point could there be a potential strategy “pivot point” to transition the prototype effort into an existing Program of Record, as opposed to, a rapid fielding decision, due to an inability to meet production readiness?  

Intellectual Property (IP) Planning

Reference Source: DODI 5010.44 IP Acquisition and Licensing Section 1.2


Integrate Intellectual Property (IP) planning fully into acquisition strategies and product support strategies to protect core DoD interests over the entire life cycle. Seek to acquire only those IP deliverables and license rights necessary to accomplish these strategies, bearing in mind the long-term effect on cost,competition, and affordability.


Weapon and information systems acquired by DoD in support of the warfighter are, and will be, increasingly dependent on technology for its operation, maintenance, modernization, and sustainment. Acquiring and licensing the appropriate IP is vital for ensuring the systems will remain functional, sustainable, upgradable and affordable. Because balancing the interests of the U.S. Government and industry in IP can be diffcult, early and effective understanding, planning, and communications between the U.S. Government and industry is critical, as is ensuring delivery, acceptance, and management of the necessary IP deliverables (e.g., technical data and computer software), with appropriate license rights. The DoD requires fair treatment of IP owners, and seeks to create conditions that encourage technologically advanced solutions to meet DoD needs.

Exportability and Coalition Interoperability Planning

Reference Source: Guidance from OUSD(A&S) - International Cooperation, Dec 2020

PMs should integrate international acquisition and exportability planning into the program’s acquisition strategy. PMs should:

  • Design the system for exportability to foreign partners, except when the program has an DA-approved waiver allowing for a U.S.-only design. PMs for programs exceeding the MDAP dollar threshold pursuing a U.S.-only design and not planning for system export require an DA-approved exportability design waiver. If a program has been approved for a waiver for a U.S.-only design, the DA will notify the USD(A&S) and the requirements validation authority.

MTA Test Strategy

Reference Source: DoDI 5000.89, Section 4.3.c.(1) and (3)


To develop the test strategy, the PM may follow the streamlined TEMP guide, if that facilitates their planning, or other planning guides pre-coordinated with the OTA and DOT&E, to tailor their particular strategy to the acquisition pathway and the expected operational environment. The test strategy should present, within the context of the intended acquisition strategy, the acquisition decision that the testing will inform, program objectives and schedule including major test events and milestones, the evaluation framework, required test resources (facilities, ranges, tools, test articles, personnel, and funding), and technical or test limitations.


Rapid fielding test strategies will set evaluation criteria and milestones to demonstrate performance of the proposed products or technologies for current operational purposes. Rapid fielding decisions should be based on integrated developmental and operational testing that demonstrates how the capability contributes to fulfilling the warfighter’s mission or the CONOPS. As rapid fielding programs will begin production within 6 months of program start, they typically will rely heavily on previous testing to support this accelerated timeline. The test strategy will identify all prior testing used, and will specify the additional testing necessary to address differences between the tested prototype and the planned production configuration.

MTA Programs on T&E Oversight

Reference Source: DoDI 5000.89, Section 3.2.a


The DOT&E will manage the T&E oversight list used jointly by the USD(R&E) and DOT&E. Programs on OT and LFT&E oversight include those programs that meet the statutory definition of MDAPs in Section 2430, Title 10, U.S.C., and those that are designated by the DOT&E for oversight pursuant to Paragraph (a)(2)(B) of Section 139, Title 10, U.S.C. The DOT&E treats the latter programs as MDAPs for the purpose of OT and LFT&E oversight requirements, but not for any other purpose.

Purpose and Applicability for MTA Programs

Reference Source: DoDI 5000.89, Section 4.3.a


MTA programs include rapid prototyping and rapid fielding programs intended to complete in 2 to 5 years. MTA programs may be placed on the T&E oversight list and remain subject to: the LFT&E requirements in Section 2366 of Title 10, U.S.C.; IOT&E requirements in Section 2399 of Title 10, U.S.C.; LRIP quantities described in Section 2400 of Title 10, U.S.C.; and cybersecurity test requirements described in the April 3, 2018 DOT&E Memorandum. The DOT&E will determine whether to oversee an MTA program according to standards set in Paragraph 3.2.b. Memorandum.

General Approach for MTA Programs on T&E Oversight

Reference Source: DoDI 5000.89, Section 4.3.b


The DOT&E supports both the intent of the MTA pathway and the statutory mandate that MTA programs demonstrate and evaluate operational performance.


DoDI 5000.80 requires both rapid prototyping and rapid fielding programs using the MTA pathway to develop a test strategy. Programs under T&E oversight will submit this test strategy, to include plans for operational testing and operational demonstrations (ops demos), to the DOT&E for approval. MTA ops demos offer a unique opportunity to “fly before you buy” by involving the operational user early in the acquisition process, before the initial production decision is made. The lead OTA will incorporate operational user inputs and participation in program test strategies. The DOT&E encourages tailoring MTA ops demos, and other T&E, to enable rapid fielding while maintaining acceptable risk to the warfighter.


The program’s decision authority will designate a DoD Component OTA to serve as the lead OTA. The PM will collaborate with the OTA and other stakeholders to develop a fully integrated test strategy. The OTA will submit plans for ops demos to the DOT&E for approval before starting the test. For programs conducting multiple ops demos, the DOT&E will tailor this approval process to ensure appropriate oversight of ops demos leading to fielding or transition to another pathway in order to minimize disrupting early testing. The DOT&E, in collaboration with the PM or OTA, will set the timeline for submitting the test strategy and OTPs for approval. The data from all ops demos should be made available to the OTAs, the DOT&E, and other stakeholders for use to scope and inform subsequent test events and decisions.


Early and continuous coordination and collaboration among the DOT&E, the PM, and the OTA will support faster reviews by the DOT&E. The PM will ensure that the OTA and DOT&E has access to ops demos and other operational, live fire, and cybersecurity test events and data. For rapid prototyping programs that will not field a significant residual operational capability to the deployed warfighter, the DOT&E will tailor the test plan approval process, which may include delegating approval authority, depending on the level of risk to the warfighter.

DoD Component Guidance

Note that DoD Component MTA Implementation policies and guidance are currently being updated to be consistent with the newly published DODI 5000.80 (effective 30 Dec 2019). 

Air Force

MTA Acquisition Strategy Documentation

Reference Source: Air Force Guidance Memorandum for Rapid Acquisition Activities, 27 June 2019


5.1. It is the responsibility of the initiating or assigned PM to propose required program documentation, decision points, metrics, guardrails, as well as timing and scope of decision reviews, and to establish cost, schedule, risk, and performance objectives. This strategy should be determined at program initiation, approved by the MDA, and documented in the ASD.


5.1.1. Validated requirements should be documented in a previously-approved or subsequently coordinated requirements document. When available, the requirements document should include the system specification sheet as an attachment.

5.1.2. Documentation should be completed within a reasonable amount of time of requirements validation.


5.2. The PM should stress tailored documentation while complying with applicable statutory requirements, as well as the FAR, Defense FAR Supplement, or Air Force FAR Supplement requirements. Though speed through streamlining should be fervently pursued, it should be balanced with transparency and accountability considerations to maintain confidence in Air Force rapid acquisition programs.


5.3. At a minimum, the PM should consider the intent of the following documents and their applicability to their specific rapid acquisition authority and shall complete documents statutorily required (T-0):


5.3.1. Tailored Acquisition Baseline / Tailored Integrated Master Schedule,

5.3.2. Tailored Acquisition Strategy Document

5.3.3. Tailored Concept Analyses,

5.3.4. Clinger-Cohen Act Compliance, Risk Management Framework, and Cybersecurity Strategy,

5.3.5. Program Environmental Safety Occupational Health Evaluation,

5.3.6. National Environmental Policy Act/Executive Order 12114 Compliance Schedule,

5.3.7. Frequency Allocation Application,

5.3.8. Program protection to include critical program information, supply chain risk, and anti-tamper considerations,

5.3.9. Intelligence and Threat Information/Life Cycle Mission Data Plan.


5.4. The PM will plan for and document in the ASD the following items:


5.4.1. Acquisition and funding requirements to include how competition requirements applicable to the given contract and acquisition authority will be met

5.4.2. Demonstration and evaluation of performance of prototypes in an operational environment within five years (where applicable),

5.4.3. Risk management,

5.4.4. Transition planning for prototypes to new or existing acquisition programs,

5.4.5. Lifecycle costs, sustainment, logistics support, and system interoperability (if fielding, may be addressed in a tailored Life Cycle Sustainment Plan),

5.4.6. Test planning (may be addressed in a tailored Test and Evaluation Master Plan),

5.4.7. Intellectual property strategy.


6.3. Digital engineering, modular open system architecture, software-defined capabilities, and commercial standards and interfaces are strongly encouraged and should be thoroughly assessed for all rapid acquisitions. Inclusions should be documented in the acquisition strategy.


6.4. Agile software development and development operations (DevOps) is required for all new initiatives unless waived by the MDA for reasons of prohibitive cost, schedule, or performance or other national security considerations. The software development strategy should be documented as part of the ASD.



MTA Acquisition Strategy

Reference Source: ASA(ALT) Middle Tier of Acquisition Policy, 20 March 2020, Enclosure 1, TAB B
[Note: CAC required for access]


1. The PM will include a program acquisition strategy to support the Army Acquisition Executive’s decision to use the MTA authority.


2. Subsequent changes to the approved acquisition strategy require prior DA approval.


3. The acquisition strategy should address, at minimum, the following areas:


a. MTA program purpose.


b. Project description.


c. Capability need, including threat and operational gaps addressed.


d. MTA justification: why and how the MTA program is appropriate for execution under MTA’s rapid prototyping or rapid fielding pathways; demonstrate how the MTA program fits within Army Modernization Priorities.


e. Acquisition approach.


f. Program cost and funding plan, including cost, schedule, and performance metrics.


g. Program schedule, including knowledge and decision points and decision reviews.


h. Fielding strategy (as applicable).


i. Test strategy, or an assessment of test results.


j. Product support strategy.


k. Program risks and risk mitigation approaches.


i. Rapid prototyping acquisition strategies will include security, schedule, and technical risks.


ii. Rapid fielding acquisition strategies will include security, schedule, and production risks.


l. A transition plan that includes a timeline for completion of all necessary documentation, not later than two years after program start.


4. Rights in Technical Data and Software. PMs must address intellectual property (IP) in their acquisition strategy, consistent with the ASA(ALT) policy on intellectual property. This includes: any IP developed by the contractor independent of the MTA program; the cost to purchase or license the IP; the IP that will be developed during the MTA; what rights to the data the government will have and need.


MTA Rapid Fielding Documentation

Reference Source: ASN(RDA) Middle Tier Acquisition and Acquisition Agility Guidance, 24 April 2018

Section 1. Program Managers (PMs) are encouraged to request additional waivers from statutory or regulatory requirements on a case-by-case basis, as appropriate, to accelerate a rapid prototyping project or rapid fielding program.

Section 2.2. The PM should review the documentation in Table 2-2 and 2-3 and make recommendations to the Approval Authority to identify which documents will best support program execution when utilizing the Rapid Fielding pathway. In order to optimize production and fielding timelines, the PM may tailor timelines for developing program documents that are not required for program initialization. The documentation tailoring plan shall be included in Rapid Fielding plan. Rapid Fielding programs under oversight, as determined by the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), may have additional compliance requirements. Program Managers should engage the Operational Test Community as early as possible.

Table 2-2. Rapid Fielding Documentation - Statutory

Table 2-3. Rapid Fielding Documentation - Regulatory




MTA Program Strategy

Reference Source: USSOCOM Middle Tier Acquisition Authorities and Guidance, 1 Aug 2018

Stakeholder Analysis: As with all SOF AT&L acquisition efforts, the Acquisition Team is expected to understand the required capability, whether formally stated or not, of the user community represented by the HQ, Components and TSOCs. For an MTA strategy to be applicable, the capability must be simultaneously well-defined and broadly defined. A capability that is either defined too tightly or is subject to deviations or growth over time will negate the Acquisition Team’s ability to pursue an MTA strategy. The team must also understand the current maturity of technology within industry, labs, academia and the Services. When the Acquisition Team sees an opportunity to satisfy a known requirement with a technology that could be prototyped and/or fielded within five years, they should pursue an MTA strategy in support of the Capability Sponsor.


Facts: Given a firm understanding of the operational capability required and of the technological maturity of the proposed solution, the Acquisition Team should have a strong set of facts to work from in order to pursue an MTA. These must include the following:


  • MTA Strategy Threshold Criteria:
    • Rapid Fielding: Begin production within six months and complete fielding within five years of an approved requirement.
  • Requirements Validation: For Rapid Prototyping, the effort might precede a validated requirement and, in fact, may inform the requirement. Although the MTA authority is not subject to JCIDS, the Acquisition Team must have a validated requirement before they can apply MFP-11 resources for a Rapid Fielding. This valid requirement could come in the form of a Directed Requirement, such as a Command-directed UDA, in order to achieve schedule efficiencies opportunities. The Acquisition Team will collaborate with the Capability Sponsor and the USSOCOM J8 to rapidly staff the requirement across the USSOCOM Enterprise to reduce risk and facilitate information sharing prior to VCDR validation.
  • Approved Resources: In order to meet the schedule constraints of an MTA strategy, by definition, the funding resources for an MTA may not have been explicitly resourced via the POM/Budget/Spend plan process. For the current authority, there is no set-aside rapid prototyping or rapid fielding funding. The Acquisition Team must have command-approved resources to execute the MTA strategy. The VCDR will approve any required funding realignments or reprogrammings via the SPP process. Whenever possible, anticipated MTA’s should be included in budget exhibits and budget briefings to Congress to ensure confidence that we are executing appropriated funds within Congressional intent. If an MTA is initiated after Budget Exhibit submission, the MDA will coordinate with SOLA to inform the PSM’s from the four Defense Committees.
    • Rapid Fielding: For PROC and O&M to support Rapid Fielding, all Pl lines descriptions should address rapid fielding. Again, if resources are not available within the appropriate Pl, the Acquisition Team will pursue an $PP-approved BTR
    • Transition: If a Rapid Prototyping effort does not transition to fielding or Rapid Fielding effort fails to adhere to the MTA schedule requirements, the residual technology can transition to a traditional acquisition program.
  • Reporting Requirements: All MTA’ s must provide the following as defined by USD(A&S)’s guidance for MTA implementation:
    1. Name of the Program
    2. Capability Gap or Problem
    3. Definitive Source for the Capability Gap or Problem
    4. Capability Characteristic or Solution
    5. Date Funds Approved for Initiation
    6. Funding Source
    7. Program Result (Transition or Termination)
    8. Date of Transition or Termination
    9. Reason for Transition or Termination
    10. Program Budget
    11. Vendor Name


Items 1-6 should form the basis for requirements validation. Items 7-11 follow program initiation. This data will be shared across the Department via an open and collaborative Department-managed tool and internally via the SOF AT&L Acquisition Management System.

Additional facts bearing on an MTA strategy follow the guidance in App J, USSOCOM Directive 70-1.

Framing Assumptions: The three framing assumptions central to the decision to pursue an MTA strategy are:

  1. Capability Definition: The Capability Sponsor can articulate the capability required with sufficient fidelity to give the Acquisition Team confidence that a material solution is possible to achieve the capability within the time constraints of the MTA authority. The Capability Sponsor can also be expected to consider trading capability for schedule as long as threshold KP P’s are met to ensure MTA schedule constraints are met. Furthermore, the Capability Sponsor must consider how to define an appropriate MTA fielding quantity. The trad itional concept of FOC may not apply to a capability tha t will rapidly spiral as a result of commercial technology advancements.
    • Technology Maturity: The technology is already at sufficient maturity (Rapid Fielding) or can be rapidly advanced to a greater maturity (Rapid Prototyping).
    • Funding Stability: When USSOCOM commits to an MTA fielding strategy, funding resources will be committed to ensure fielding can be completed within five years without changes in the POM causing a delay past the five-year window.
  2. Risk/Opportunity Analysis: Given that the MTA authority emphasizes schedule above cost and performance, the Acquisition Team should plan for the mitigation of any identified Risks to schedule and plan for the pursuit of any Opportunities that increase their ability to achieve the required schedule. Each member of the Acquisition Team should consider risks and opportunities within their functional areas: program management, contract management, financial management, test planning and logistics management.
  3. Transition to Planning: Once a Rapid Prototyping effort transitions to Fielding or upon the initiation of a Rapid Fielding effort, the Acquisition Team incorporates the results of their Stakeholder, Facts, Framing Assumptions and Risk/Opportunity Analysis to recommend an MTA strategy to the MDA.


Program Management: The PM will recommend a tailored management strategy by considering what products, reviews and decision events are required to effectively manage an MTA. At a minimum the MDA will require the following documentation:

  • Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM): Signed by the AE, designating the effort as a mid-tier acquisition.
  • Simplified Acquisition Management Plan (SAMP): Following a successful Acquisition Strategy Brief, the Acquisition Team will complete a SAMP.
  • Fielding and Deployment Release (F&DR): Before fielding a mid-tier acquisition capability, the Acquisition Team will achieve a successful F&OR or Conditional F&DR.


Test Plan: An MTA Strategy must account for the capability receiving an F&DR or CF&DR before fielding. The Test Officer will play a critical role in ensuring that appropriately tailored test events are planned, documented in the SAMP, resourced and executed to ensure the capability is safe, suitable and effective on schedule.

Logistics Management: The PSM is equally responsible for a successful F&DR or CF&DR decision before fielding and must develop an appropriately tailored Life Cycle Sustainment Plan as part of the SAMP for the capability prior to fielding.

Additional Resources