Middle Tier of Acquisition (MTA)
How to use this site
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.a
Operational Needs. DoD Components will develop a merit-based process for the consideration of existing products and proven technologies to meet needs communicated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Combatant Commanders. This process will result in an approved requirement and a DA signed ADM, with minimum fielding plan criteria, identifying the full funding required.
Reference Source: DoDI 5000.80, Paragraph 1.2.f
Each DoD Component will develop a streamlined process that results in a succinct requirement document no later than 6 months from the time the operational needs process is initiated. Approval authorities for each capability requirement will be delegated to a level that promotes rapid action.
Reference Source: DoDI 5000.80, Paragraph 4.1.a
CAEs will ensure the approved requirement document is available in the Knowledge Management and Decision Support system.
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).
Reference Source: Air Force Guidance Memorandum for Rapid Acquisition Activities, 27 June 2019
- 3.3. Rapid acquisition activities should meet needs communicated by the Combatant Commands, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and/or the Air Force in a timely and effective manner. Exemption from JCIDS should not exempt the PM from engaging requirements authorities (e.g. Combatant Commands, Joint Chiefs of Staff, CSAF) to ensure rapid acquisitions either meet current or draft requirements (i.e., “requirements pull”) or might potentially generate a new requirement if successful (i.e., “technology push”).
- 3.3.3. Rapid fielding efforts should consider the potential of existing products, proven technologies, and/or demonstrated processes to meet an existing or emerging capability gap or create future operational opportunities.
- 3.3.4. Requirements for rapid fielding efforts must be validated by the CSAF or designated representative prior to commitment of funds unless waived by the SAE.
Section 5. Documentation
- 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.
AF MTA Requirements Procedures
Reference Source: A5R Requirements Guidebook Vol 5: MTA Requirements Validation Process, 4 Dec 2019
2.1. Process Overview
The process to establish requirements in support of MTA activity is based on the normal requirements process in that it requires analysis to determine the most effective materiel or non-materiel solution based on a valid threat assessment or approved capability gap(s) and it requires proper documentation to deliver capability solutions to the warfighter quickly.
2.2. Initiation of MTA Efforts
Per SAF/AQ direction, all new capability development efforts will be reviewed for Middle-Tier of Acquisition applicability (i.e. capability development activities that can be accomplished within the 5 year timeframe). Other ongoing acquisition efforts may elect to “transition” to take advantage of MTA authorities, and those programs likely some degree of capability analysis, requirements documentation and programming support already in place.
MTA efforts may also be initiated in response to CDC direction (Top-Down) or from MAJCOM/Agency capability development proposals (bottom-up)
2.3. Capability Development Strategy (CDS)
The first steps in developing the CDS are to 1) ensure the MTA effort aligns with overarching AF strategy, capability development guidance and resourcing plans and 2) determine what capability analysis and/or requirements documentation exists (or needs to be developed) in order to support proceeding to MTA.
- The MAJCOM/Agency Sponsor working through their AF/A5R SME, coordinates with AF/A5RP, AF/A5RA-OAS and AF/A5A to assess the sufficiency of existing analyses and/or requirements documentation that might be used to support of the MTA effort.
- The Sponsor also assesses available resources in coordination with the Acquisition Program Office, SAF/AQX, SAF/FMB, AF/A8P, and AF/A8X (as appropriate) to determine the amount and timing of funding and other resources available for the MTA effort.
- The Sponsor provides a presentation to the CDWG and/or CDC that describes how the effort will be integrated within an overall Capability Development Strategy (CDS).
- NOTE: The purpose of a CDS is to define the overall plan of action and milestones (POAM) that will integrate the lines of effort across requirements, resourcing and acquisition. The CDS includes priorities and tradeoffs, and it needs to be consistent with available resources (both timing and amount of funding, manpower, basing strategies, etc.)
2.4. Documentation of Requirements to Support MTA
Following CDWG and/or CDC approval of the CDS and the path forward, the MAJCOM/Agency Sponsor, working through their AF/A5R SME and in coordination with AF/A5RP determines the appropriate requirements documentation to support the MTA activity.
- Sponsors have the option to use an existing requirements document(s) to support the MTA process (subject to AF/A5RP approval), or they can create a new MTA requirements document.
- An existing requirements document may include any previously validated requirements document(s) or a draft currently under development (in which case the Sponsor could continue staffing the current document through to validation in support of MTA rather than starting over with a new MTA document). AF/A5RP determines the level of review and approval necessary to use any existing draft or previously validated requirements document(s) in support of MTA activity. AF/A5RP notifies SAF/AQX directly of any decision to approve or deny the proposed use of existing requirements documents to support MTA activity.
- If use of an existing requirements document is not deemed appropriate, the MAJCOM/Agency Sponsor can elect to develop a new MTA Requirements document; either a Rapid Prototyping Requirements Document (RPRD) or a Rapid Fielding Requirements Document (RFRD), as appropriate (format and content for the RPRD and RFRD are described in section 3 of this Guidebook).
Following development of the draft version of the RPRD or RFRD, and upon approval by the MAJCOM/Agency Director of Requirements (or higher), the sponsor submits the document to AF/A5RP via IRSS for entry into staffing.
- AF/A5RP in consultation with the AF/A5R SME conducts initial AFGK checks to determine if the document is ready to enter into staffing.
- A tailored staffing period will be conducted utilizing IRSS tasking procedures on SIPRNET.
- AF/A5RP will also forward the document to the J8 Gatekeeper for Joint Staff awareness. Should Joint Staff determine that Joint equity exists, the Sponsor may continue to proceed with MTA activities while Joint equities are being outlined and a Joint approach is developed, if required.
Following the tailored staffing period, the Sponsor completes comment adjudication and any internal MAJCOM/Agency review process, then submits a final version of the document via IRSS for HAF review and validation staffing. Working with the AF/A5R SME, AF/A5RP prepares the staff package for review by the designated Requirements Decision Authority.
Following validation and approval by the appropriate Requirements Decision Authority, AF/A5RP uploads the final version of the approved document along with the decision memo to IRSS and forwards a copy directly to SAF/AQX.
AF Rapid Fielding Requirements Document (RFRD): Document Format
Reference Source: A5R Requirements Guidebook Vol 5: MTA Requirements Validation Process, 4 Dec 2019
Below is the format for the RFRD:
- Title starting with the phrase “Rapid Fielding Requirements Document for…”
- Date submitted by the sponsoring organization
- Proposed MDA
- Proposed RDA
- Document revision number
- Primary and secondary POCs for the document sponsor. Include name, title/rank, phone and both NIPRNET and SIPRNET email addresses.
Validation Page: placeholder for decision memo
While in draft, a placeholder page will be included, with a statement of: “This document (include revision numbering) has not yet been validated and shall not be considered an authoritative source for the content herein. This document may be considered authoritative only when this page is replaced by a signed validation memorandum from the appropriate validation authority.”
Once validated by the validation authority, the placeholder page will be replaced by the signed memorandum indicating validation of the document.
Commander’s Intent and Executive Summary:
Sponsor’s explanation of why this effort is a candidate for rapid fielding acquisition. Briefly discuss the schedule to achieve a fielded capability and a description and definition of what the successful fielding and implementation of this new materiel solution will look like.
Section 1: Operational Context, Challenge Anticipated Threats.
Provide a summary of the operational context and challenge to be addressed, explaining how the capability solution will contribute to the missions and activities of the Air Force or meet and identified operational challenge within the anticipated threat environment.
Describe the timeframe under consideration and the overall operational risk and priority to the Air Force.
Consider evolving threats to on-going and follow-on RDT&E, production, and O&M resulting from technology transfer, espionage, and other adversarial collection efforts.
Summarize approved Critical Intelligence Parameters (CIPS), or information from Classified Information Compromise Assessment (CICA) which could critically impact the effectiveness and survivability of the proposed system. Cite the latest DIA or Service-approved threat products used during the development of this document.
Section 2: Capability Requirements and Gaps/Opportunities.
The purpose of this section is to identify the mission needs/capability requirements and associated gaps, challenges or opportunities to be addressed by the proposed solution(s) and to outline the results of related analyses or studies conducted to determine the mission needs/required capabilities and gaps or opportunities and derive the required system-level performance attributes.
Section 3: Required System Attributes.
The purpose of this section is to outline the system level performance attributes that are necessary to address the capability requirements, gaps or opportunities or which are otherwise critical or essential to achieve mission goals and objectives.
System attributes must be assigned and have sufficient granularity to support contracting actions. Avoid over specification or inclusion of technical specifications.
Provide measures for each attribute in terms of threshold and objective values as appropriate, to indicate the acceptable level of performance for the solution to be effective in an operational environment. Define other system attributes (as applicable). See the JCIDS Manual for examples.
Section 4: Interoperability & Supportability
The purpose of this section is to specify how the individual system will operate within the Joint environment, including any physical or net-ready interoperability effects on Air Force, Joint or allied operations.
Include factors that impact both the Air Force internally as well as outside agencies and programs.
Include any requirements for electromagnetic (EM) spectrum and environmental effects controls.
Include any requirements for intelligence supportability. Include information or attributes for modular open system architecture (MOSA) or exportability that may impact future decisions about development, fielding, follow-on production, joint training, etc.
Include requirements for Weapons Safety Assurance (as required for munitions systems)
Outline non-materiel (DOTMLPF-P) changes that need to be made in order to successfully implement fielding of the residual capability in an operational environment. Address both a) changes that enable implementation, operations and support of the system and b) changes that must be made to support integration of the system with other fielded capabilities.
Section 5: Resourcing and Schedule
The purpose of this section is to identify the overall resourcing plan and schedule of activities to provide the capability solution and highlight any challenges or risks to the planned timelines.
Identify funding across the FYDP, to include life cycle costs.
If funding comes from other sources, be prepared to discuss operations and support funding.
Architecture Products (determined by the Program manager).
Reference Source: ASA(ALT) Middle Tier of Acquisition Policy, 20 March 2020, Enclosure 1
[Note: CAC required for access]
Operational Needs. The MTA program initiation process will result in an approved requirement and an Army Acquisition Executive (AAE)-signed Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) that validates the rationale for using the MTA pathway and identifies the full funding required.
An approved requirements document such as Abbreviated Capability Development Document or Initial Capability Refinement Document is required.
Abbreviated Capability Development Documents (A-CDD)
Summary: The A-CDD can be used as the source requirement to execute rapid experimentation and prototyping efforts prior to program initiation IAW Section 804 Middle Tier of Acquisition. In an A-CDD, all CDD paragraphs must be accounted for, however the content for each section/paragraph does not have to be at the maturity level for a final CDD.
Reference Source: Army Futures Command (AFC) Refinement of the Abbreviated Capability Development Document (A-CDD) Guidance Memo, 11 Aug 2020
Background. A-CDDs are not constrained by Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System Integration and Development System (JCIDS) or acquisition policy.
- The Army has elected to use a similar construct to the Capability Development Document (CDD) for document development to enable rapid prototyping, testing, experimentation, demonstration or rapid fielding efforts.
- A-CDDs will provide sufficient technical, operational and analytical background or context to enable rapid prototyping and experimentation needed, but remain flexible in describing “Desired” characteristics/attributes vice “Threshold and Objective Key Performance Parameters or Key System Attributes.”
A-CDD. The A-CDD is a capability document used to establish the Army’s position on development of an Army materiel capability. The approval validation of an A-CDD initiates materiel development within the Middle Tier Acquisition (MTA) process.
- A-CDDs offer numerous options for enabling an acquisition decision. (Figure 1)
- Approval of an A-CDD does not necessarily lead to a Materiel Development Decision (MDD) or acquisition milestone decision (MS A, MS B, or MS C).
- A-CDDs provide the source desired (proposed required) capabilities and characteristics to execute rapid experimentation and prototyping efforts prior to formal program initiation.
- The A-CDD that demonstrates successful rapid experimentation and prototyping, while clearly defining the desired capability, will enable the documentation and fielding of a residual combat capability or the development of a CDD for acquisition decision.
Approval. The Quick-Fire Process is an approved pathway to instantiate a materiel capability and the supporting A-CDD. A-CDDs are a pathway to execute rapid experimentation and prototyping efforts using Mid-Tier Acquisition (MTA) authorities.
Format. The A-CDD format will follow the JCIDS Manual Appendix C to Enclosure B (CDD), paragraph 2 (reference e). All CDD paragraphs are not required for an A-CDD and those paragraphs addressed do not have to be at the maturity level for a final CDD. Many of the CDD paragraphs may not be applicable or known until prototyping and experimentation are complete. To transition the capability into the Defense Acquisition System, the A-CDD must be converted into a formal CDD. Examples of key differences between an A-CDD and a complete CDD are shown in the table below:
Paragraph in CDD A-CDD Rationale for Differences 4. Program Summary 4. Prototype Summary
· The A-CDD will not generate an acquisition program
· It is designed to underpin rapid prototyping/experimentation
· IOC and FOC are not germane (except for rapid fielding initiatives) thus A-CDDs describe the scope of the prototyping effort
· How many, what will be prototyped, is it a full-up prototype, will it be models and simulation event, etc
5. Performance Attributes (KPPs, KSAs, and APAs) 5. Desired characteristics
· The A-CDD defines the baseline or initial minimum value and sponsors allow technology to define upper limit rather than imposing an unnecessary objective
· Only define an objective for the desired characteristic when it provides useful framing for the Program Manager
· Desired characteristics are a single list of “desirements” that sponsors seek to prove out through rapid prototyping and experimentation including soldier touch points
13. Program Affordability 13. Prototyping Summary
· There is no formal acquisition program at the time an A-CDD is approved
· Sponsors should submit the same resources required table as a CDD, but focus on cost of prototyping and experimentation
· Prototyping costs may be used to inform program affordability
· This is in line with the “buy, try and decide” methodology the Army adopted to reduce risk in acquisition programs
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.
Requirements Validation: 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.
Reference Source: USSOCOM Procedure for Validation of Directed Requirements in Support of Middle Tier Acq, 9 Aug 2018
Process. USSOCOM Capability Sponsors, who believe they have a capability gap which might be eligible for rapid fielding under MTA authority, will submit a Commander-directed requirement to the Director, Force Structure, Requirements, Resources, and Strategic Assessments (J8). If required, SOF AT&L and J8 will designate appropriate personnel to participate in a Rapid-Response Team (RRT). The RRT shall, within 96 hours, determine if the nomination meets MTA authority criteria or can be better fulfilled by a more appropriate process and draft a recommendation to SOF AT&L and J8. If accepted as an MTA candidate, J8R will execute one round of abbreviated GO/FO/SES staffing in the In-Transit Visibility staffing process and generate an approval memorandum for Vice Commander (VCDR) signature. If the requirement is validated, but does not meet MTA criteria, as determined by SOF AT&L and/or J8, SOF AT&L will provide an alternate strategy to fulfill the requirement.
MTA Nominations. Nominations shall include the following minimum information:
- Name of Program
- Capability Gap or Program
- Definitive Source for Capability Gap or Problem (Concept of Operations (CONOPS)/ Lessons Learned / existing requirement documents)
- Capability Characteristic or Solution
- Key Attributes include: Interoperability, Security, Cyber Security, Resiliency, and User-Equipment Integration
- Projected Fiscal Year Initiation
- Planned Required Lifecycle Budget and Funding Source