Middle Tier of Acquisition (MTA)
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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.
DoD and the Components have specific responsibilities related to the approval, execution and support for the MTA acquisition pathway.
Reference Source: DoDI 5000.80, Section 2
UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR ACQUISITION AND SUSTAINMENT (USD(A&S)). In addition to the responsibilities in [DOD and OSD Component Heads with MTA Programs], the USD(A&S):
– Establishes policy and provides guidance for the MTA pathway in consultation with the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD(R&E)), the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer, Department of Defense (USD(C)/CFO); and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (VCJCS).
– Determines when a program is not appropriate for the MTA pathway. The USD(A&S) may disapprove use of the MTA pathway and direct use of an alternate acquisition pathway. Programs exceeding the dollar thresholds for a major defense acquisition program pursuant to Section 2430 of Title 10, United States Code (U.S.C.), require written approval prior to using the MTA pathway.
– Advises the decision authorities (DAs) on their MTA programs, and works with them to ensure streamlined processes.
– Advises DoD Components and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Defense on the use of rapid acquisition authority.
– Maintains responsibility for prototyping activities within the MTA pathway.
USD(R&E). In addition to the responsibilities in [DOD and OSD Component Heads with MTA Programs], the USD(R&E):
– Consults with the USD(A&S) on policies and guidance for the MTA pathway.
– Advises the USD(A&S) on MTA program technologies, program protection, developmental testing, program risks, and other areas as appropriate.
– Advises the USD(A&S) on MTA program performance and execution metrics.
– Manages the DoD rapid prototyping fund established in Section 804 of Public Law 114- 92.
– Advises DoD Components on program planning that anticipates the evolution of capabilities to meet the changing threats, technology insertion, and interoperability.
USD(C)/CFO. The USD(C)/CFO:
– Consults with the USD(A&S) on policies and guidance for the MTA pathway.
– Reviews and advises on funding for programs using the MTA pathway through the normal Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution processes of the DoD.
– Advises the USD(A&S) and DoD Components and monitors the planning and execution of MTA program operational demonstrations.
– Reviews and coordinates tailored test strategies for operational demonstration plans and assessments for MTA programs designated for DOT&E oversight.
– Establishes operational demonstration planning and assessment guidelines for MTA programs, as appropriate.
DIRECTOR OF COST ASSESSMENT AND PROGRAM EVALUATION. The Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation:
– Advises the USD(A&S) on schedule, resource allocation, affordability, systems analysis, cost estimation and the performance implications of proposed MTA programs.
– Establishes policies and prescribes procedures for the collection of cost data and cost estimates for MTA programs, as appropriate.
DOD AND OSD COMPONENT HEADS WITH MTA PROGRAMS. The DoD and OSD Component heads with MTA programs oversee their MTA programs through their component acquisition executives (CAEs) and program managers (PMs):
– CAEs will designate a PM and product support manager for each program using the MTA pathway. CAEs will serve as the DA for programs approved for the MTA pathway, unless delegated by the CAEs, and will implement the procedures in this issuance.
– PMs will develop acquisition strategies, execute approved program plans, field capabilities, and report program status. They will employ an innovative and disciplined approach and will seek appropriate alternatives to any regulatory requirements that increase burden without adding value to their programs. PMs will “tailor- in” reviews, assessments, and relevant documentation that results in an acquisition strategy customized to the unique characteristics and risks of their program. PMs will ensure operational, technical, and security risks are identified and reduced so that fielded systems are capable, effective, and resilient. PMs will comply with statutory requirements unless waived in accordance with relevant provisions.
– PMs, with the support of the product support managers, will develop and implement sustainment programs addressing each of the integrated product support elements to deliver affordable readiness.
VCJCS. In addition to the responsibilities in [DOD and OSD Component Heads with MTA Programs], the VCJCS:
– Consults with the USD(A&S) as appropriate on policies and guidance for the MTA pathway.
– Maintains a library of MTA requirement documents available to DoD Components.
– Advises DoD Components on interoperability across the joint force, cybersecurity of military networks, and alignment with future warfighting concepts.
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, AFGM2019-63-01, 27 June 2019
Section 2. Roles and Responsibilities.
2.1. The Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics), as the Service Acquisition Executive (SAE), will:
2.1.1. Provide guidance, oversight, and reporting requirements for rapid acquisition activities.
2.1.2. Serve as the MDA for rapid acquisitions meeting the funding criteria for Acquisition Category (ACAT) I as defined in DoDI 5000.02, The Defense Acquisition System.
2.1.3. Evaluate the performance of Program Executive Officers (PEO) on delegated rapid activities annually.
2.1.4. Provide waivers for rapid acquisition activities without approved requirements or operational test criteria.
126.96.36.199. The SAE will document the basis for such waivers and inform Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Integration, and Requirements (AF/A5).
2.1.5. Meet periodically with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF), Vice CSAF, and/or Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Integration, and Requirements (AF/A5) on the status of rapid acquisition activities.
2.1.6. Submit additional funding requests that represent opportunities to accelerate rapid acquisition activities to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management (SAF/FM) for inclusion on the Unfunded Requirements (UFR) List for future Reprogramming Requests.
188.8.131.52. The SAE will meet periodically with SAF/FM to provide updates on rapid acquisition activities.
2.1.7. Report status of rapid acquisition activities to the Congressional Defense Subcommittees.
2.2. Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Integration, and Requirements (AF/A5) will support development of requirements for rapid acquisition activities.
2.2.1. Because rapid prototyping efforts are exempt from the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) process, formally-documented requirements are not necessary for these efforts. However, AF/A5 will initiate and document initial requirements for subsequent refinement during prototyping whenever possible.
2.2.2. Though rapid fielding efforts are also exempt from JCIDS, the A5 provides a streamlined process for requirements validation.
2.3. The SAF/FM will support funding for rapid acquisition activities.
2.3.1. Funding will be submitted using the normal Planning, Programming, and Budgeting Execution process managed by the Air Force and Department of Defense.
2.3.2. SAF/FM will develop a Non-Advocate Cost Assessment to support the Acquisition, and Planning, Programming, and Budgeting Execution process for rapid acquisition activities where the SAE is the MDA.
2.3.3. SAF/FM will document rapid acquisition activities that may be further accelerated with additional resources on the Unfunded Requirements List (UFR) for future Reprogramming Requests. Inputs will be submitted by the SAE.
2.3.4. SAF/FM will meet periodically with the SAE to review rapid acquisition UFR entries and update on the status of reprogramming requests.
2.4. The MDA for a rapid acquisition activity will:
2.4.1. Initiate the rapid acquisition activity and ensure it meets the criteria for the Section 804 authority being applied.
2.4.2. Approve an acquisition strategy, acquisition oversight milestones, metrics and execution guardrails (i.e., thresholds that trigger a notice to, and/or review by, the MDA), timing and scope of decision reviews, and required program documentation.
2.4.3. Ensure rapid fielding efforts have validated requirements prior to commitment of funds unless waived by the SAE.
2.5. The PM for a rapid acquisition activity will:
2.5.1. Develop and propose an acquisition strategy, acquisition oversight milestones, metrics and execution guardrails, timing and scope of decision reviews, metrics, and required documentation to the MDA.
2.5.2. Ensure approved acquisition strategies are documented and executed according to guidelines in this guidance memorandum.
2.5.3. Challenge and evolve the acquisition plan based on discoveries and opportunities uncovered during prototyping and production (where applicable). Approval process for future substantive changes should be documented in an Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM).
Reference Source: ASA(ALT) Middle Tier Acquisition Policy, 25 Sept 2018
(1) The Army Acquisition Executive (AAE) will:
(a) Provide, oversight, guidance and reporting requirements for MTA efforts.
(b) Approve each initial decision to utilize MTA.
(c) Unless otherwise noted in the ADM, be the DA for MTA efforts that meet the funding criteria for ACAT I as defined in DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5000.02. For efforts meeting the criteria of ACAT 11, Ill and IV programs-as defined in DoDI 5000.02-DA is delegated to the PEO, with further delegation allowed consistent with current policy once the AAE has approved the initial decision to utilize MTA. Application of ACAT criteria for DA determination does not establish the mid-tier acquisition effort as program of record and does not impose the requirements of anACAT program.
(d) Annually evaluate the performance of Program Executive Officers (PEO) and any direct-reporting PMs on assigned MTA efforts. Ensure PEOs annually evaluate the performance of their PMs on these efforts.
(2) Decision Authorities (DAs). The DA is the designated individual with overall responsibility for an effort conducted under MTA. The DA for each approved Rapid Prototyping/Rapid Fielding initiative will:
(a) Approve major decisions concerning progress of the effort at pre-established decision points.
(b) Be accountable for reporting cost, schedule and performance data to the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition and Sustainment) (USD(A&S)) in accordance with (IAW) reference 1.b and any Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation requirements.
(c) Authorize PMs to utilize tailored, streamlined procedures that support effective project completion.
(d) In coordination with functional stakeholders, ensure that PEOs/PMs structure all individual MTA efforts to adhere to the operating principles outlined in this document under the specific type of MTA.
(e) Develop and track measureable, quantifiable metrics that assess technical performance parameters, cost and schedule.
(3) Program Manager (PM). The PM is the designated individual with responsibility for and authority to accomplish the objectives of the MTA effort. The PM shall be accountable to the DA for credible cost, schedule and performance. The PM for each approved Rapid Prototyping/Rapid Fielding initiative will:
(a) Execute the initiative in accordance with the AAE’s initial decision memorandum and subsequent direction from the designated DA. The PM must return to the DA for approval to deviate from the initial ADM.
(b) Report to the designated MTA DA.
(c) In coordination with the users of the equipment and the test community, make trade-offs among life-cycle costs, requirements and schedules to meet the goals of the effort.
(d) Ensure that experimentation focuses on outcomes, affords the maximum ability for quantifiable measurement and centers military value in an operational environment. Coordinate with stakeholders for appropriate concurrence at key decision points. Additionally, include in decision points the requirement for stakeholders to adjust program documentation, including the validated requirement.
(e) Submit to the PEO any requests for technical staff, including experts in business management, contracting, auditing, engineering, testing and logistics, to enable effective program execution.
(f) Shall document metrics to measure the program’s cost, schedule, performance and risks. Metrics should inform decision makers that the MTA is accomplishing what it intended, when it was intended.
(g) Provide data to include, but not be limited to: name of effort, capability gap or problem, capability gap metrics, definitive source for the capability gap or problem, capability characteristic or solution, date funds approved for initiation, funding source, result (transition or termination), date of transition or termination, reason for transition or termination, budget, and vendor(s) name.
(h) Report effort in the Army Acquisition Program Master List.
(i) Where appropriate:
(a) Provide justification on waiver requests for requirements deemed to be of little value.
(b) Propose tailored reviews, processes, and assessments that are necessary for achieving cost, schedule, and performance goals and statutory compliance.
(c) Propose tailored documentation. With respect to acquisition strategies, consult reference 1.c, which authorizes use of the simplified acquisition management plan (SAMP) in appropriate circumstances.
(d) Propose tailored metrics to track progress.
(U) Execute MTA efforts using flexible procurement and non-procurement instruments. These include, but are not limited to: Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts, cooperative agreements (when authorized by statute), other transactions for prototype projects (10 USC 2371b), experimental authority (10 USC 2373), and Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 12 procedures or standard FAR contracts (where appropriate). PMs will work closely with contracting officers to select the most appropriate instruments when building the program strategy.
(k) Ensure prospective DA approval, documented in an ADM, of all cost and schedule changes that exceed previously approved parameters.
(l) In addition to any other DA-directed status reports, provide the DA with an annual assessment of the program’s status with respect to cost, schedule and performance objectives.
Responsibilities that only apply for Rapid Prototyping
Reference Source: ASA(ALT) Middle Tier Acquisition Policy, 25 Sept 2018
Section 5.b. DA/PM responsibilities for Rapid Prototyping:
(1) Use merit-based processes for the consideration of innovative technologies and new capabilities to meet user needs.
(2) Develop and implement disciplined acquisition and funding strategies.
(3) Demonstrate and evaluate the performance of field able prototypes developed pursuant to the effort in an operational environment.
(4) Develop specific plans to transition successful prototypes to new or existing acquisition programs for production and fielding under the rapid fielding pathway or the Defense Acquisition System.
Responsibilities that only apply for Rapid Fielding
Reference Source: ASA(ALT) Middle Tier Acquisition Policy, 25 Sept 2018
Section 6.b. DA/PM responsibilities for Rapid Fielding:
(1) Use merit-based processes for the consideration of existing products and proven technologies to meet user needs.
(2) Demonstrate the performance of proposed products and technologies for current operational purposes.
(3) Develop and implement disciplined acquisition and funding strategies.
(4) Ensure consideration of lifecycle costs and address issues of logistics support and system interoperability.
Reference Source: ASN(RDA) Memo: Middle Tier Acquisition and Acquisition Agility Guidance Update, 10 Jan 2019
In an effort to further decentralize authority, to encourage utilization of these new authorities, and to instantiate the use of all rapid acquisition tools as a standard part of our business rather than exception, Commanders of the Systems Commands (SYSCOMs), Program Executive Officers (PEOs), and Direct Reporting Program Managers (DRPMs) are hereby authorized to designate and initiate Middle Tier Acquisition projects and programs that meet the criteria for such approval level depicted per attachment.
The SYSCOM Commander, PEO, or DRPM shall be the acquisition decision authority (ADA) for these projects and programs.
Designation of a Middle Tier project or program shall be accomplished via an Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM). ADMs approved by a SYSCOM Commander, PEO, or DRPM shall be provided to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN(RD&A)), with copies as stated in the attachment, no later than two business days after signature.
For prospective Middle Tier projects and programs that do not meet the criteria for designation by a SYSCOM Commander, PEO, or DRPM depicted in the attachment, ASN(RD&A) will be the designation authority. The Acquisition Decision Authority (ADA) designated by ASN(RD&A) shall initiate such projects and programs consistent with any direction provided by ASN(RD&A). Consult the portfolio DASN and/or DASN(RDT&E) staff on additional options for use of the middle tier acquisition pathway.
Per reference (b), ASN(RD&A) is required to identify any new Middle Tier Acquisition projects or programs to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (OUSD(A&S)) by submitting an information memorandum and Program Identification data at least 30 calendar days before the obligation of any funds for a Middle Tier Acquisition effort. For DON purposes, “initiation” is defined as the first obligation of funds after an ADM designating a Middle Tier project or program is signed. The statutory six-month and five-year time periods for Middle Tier projects and programs will be calculated from the date of such first obligation (i.e. the date of initiation).
Per reference (a), a merit-based assessment shall be performed by the authorizing official to aid in the designation of a Middle Tier Acquisition project or program. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (DASN(RDT&E)) staff are available to assist programs exploring these new authorities. An Accelerated Acquisition Playbook is also now available online at the following link: https://portal.secnav.navy.mil/cop/NIN/SitePages/Playbooks/AA/AA_Playbook.aspx. Additional accelerated acquisition resource materials and a tailorable sample merit-based assessment are also available on this site. While a merit-based assessment is required, use of the tailorable template is not mandatory.
Reference Source: ASN(RDA) Middle Tier Acquisition Interim Guidance, 24 April 2018
Section 3. A Program Manager will be designated and report directly to Acquisition Decision Authority.
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 2.1. The PM should review the documentation in Table 2-1 and make recommendations to the Approval Authority to identify which documents best support project execution when utilizing the Rapid Prototyping pathway.
Table 2-1. Rapid Prototyping Documentation
Elements to Address
Acquisition Decision Memorandum
When required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)
Capability Documentation (within 6 months of initiation)
Responsible DCNO -or- DC, CD&I
ADA – Acquisition Decision Authority
DCNO – Deputy Chief of Naval Operations
DC, CD&I – Deputy Commandant for Capability Development & Integration
Reference Source: USSOCOM Middle Tier Acquisition Authorities and Guidance, 1 Aug 2018
Each member of the Team has a unique role and responsibilities to ensure the schedule constraints of an MTA can be met. These responsibilities include but are not limited to:
- 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.
- Contract Management: The KO supports the PM’s MTA strategy by providing contracting solutions that best address the schedule constraints. This contract strategy could be FAR or non-FARbased or a combination of both and consider the tools that are available to SOF AT&L such as the PIA, OT A’s, Grants or Cooperative Agreements, IOIQ’s, other transactions for research (10 USC 2371), experimental authority (10 USC 2373) and FAR Part 12 procedures where appropriate.
- Financial Management: The greatest challenge for the BFM, in support of the PM, will be to identify appropriate funds for the initiation of an MTA which may be required in the execution or budget years. The BFM must also ensure stability of funds in the subsequent POM build to ensure fie lding is achieved on schedule.
- 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 field ing.