Middle Tier of Acquisition (MTA)

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MTA Responsibilities

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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.




– 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.


– Selects MTA programs for DOT&E operational and/or live fire test and evaluation oversight using the authority in Sections 139, 2366, 2399, and 2400 of Title 10, U.S.C., as applicable.


– 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). 

Air Force

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. 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. 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 of Acquisition Policy, 20 March 2020
[Note: CAC required for access]



4.  Responsibilities:


a.  The Army Acquisition Executive (AAE) will:


    1. Provide oversight, guidance and reporting requirements for MTA programs.
    2. Approve the use of the MTA pathway for Army programs.
    3. Serve as the Decision Authority (DA) for MTA programs unless delegated to the PEO and noted in the MTA program initiation Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM)
    4. Evaluate annually the performance of PEOs and any direct-reporting PMs on assigned MTA programs. Ensures PEOs evaluate the performance of their PMs on these efforts annually.


b.  The Deputy for Acquisition and Systems Management (DASM) will:


    1. Serve as the OASA(ALT) lead to establish Army MTA information-reporting and governance protocols.
    2. Be accountable for capturing and reporting MTA data to the Office of the USD(A&S).
    3. The Department of the Army Systems Coordinator coordinates supporting documentation necessary to inform DASM recommendations and ensures compliance with MTA program requirements.


c.  The DA is the designated individual with overall responsibility for a program conducted under MTA. The DA for each approved Rapid Prototyping/ Rapid Fielding initiative will:


    1. Approve major decisions concerning progress of the effort at pre-established decision points.
    2. Approve MTA program documentation within their purview.
    3. Be accountable for reporting data to USD(A&S) in accordance with reference 1.d* and any applicable Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation and/or Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller) requirements.
    4. Authorize PMs to utilize tailored, streamlined procedures that support effective project completion in accordance with reference 1.c.* and 1.d.*
    5. In coordination with functional stakeholders, ensure that PEOs/ PMs structure all individual MTA programs to adhere to the operating principles outlined in this document.
    6. Track measurable, quantifiable metrics that assess technical performance parameters, cost, and schedule.
    7. Designate a product support manager.


d.  The PM is the designated individual with responsibility for an authority to accomplish the objectives of the MTA program. 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:


    1. Execute the MTA program per the AAE’s MTA initiation ADM, acquisition strategy, and subsequent direction from the designated DA. The PM must return to the DA for approval to deviate from the initial ADM.
    2. Report to the designated MTA DA.
    3. Develop and implement disciplined acquisition and funding strategies. Make trade-offs among life-cycle costs, requirements, and schedules to meet the goals of the MTA program, in coordination with end-users and the test community.
    4. Ensure that experimentation focuses on outcomes, affords the maximum ability for quantifiable measurement, and military value in an operational environment.
    5. Coordinate with stakeholders for appropriate concurrent at key decision points. Additionally, include in decision points the requirement for stakeholders to adjust program documentation, including the validated requirement.
    6. For any MTA programs expected to require an eventual total expenditure that exceeds the threshold defined pursuant to reference 1.g.*, the DA will coordinate with the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8 to ensure the requirements document is loaded to Knowledge Management and Decision Support system.
    7. Develop and document metrics to measure the cost, schedule, performance, and risks of the program. Metrics should inform decision makers that the MTA is accomplishing what it intended, when it was intended.
    8. Report effort via Defense Acquisition Visibility Environment (DAVE) interfaces.
    9. Propose to the DA tailored reviews, metrics, processes, and assessments that are necessary for achieving cost, schedule, and performance goals and statutory compliance.
    10. Work closely with contracting officers to select the most appropriate instruments when building the program acquisition strategy, including, but not limited to: Indefinitely Delivery, Indefinite Quantity contracts, cooperative agreements (when authorized by statute), other transactions for prototype projects (reference 1.h.), experimental authority (reference 1.i.), and FAR, Part 12, “Acquisition of Commercial Items,” procedures or standard FAR contracts.
    11. In addition to any DA-directed status reports, provide the AAE with an executive-level assessment of the program’s status with respect to cost, schedule, and performance objectives annually and submit updated Program Identification Data via DAVE interfaces twice annually with the President’s Budget and Program Objective Memorandum submissions to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

* References listed:

1.c. Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 5000.02, “Operation of the Adaptive Acquisition Framework,” January 23, 2020.

1.d. DoDI 5000.80, “Operation of the MTA,” December 30, 2019.

1.g. Title 10, U.S.C., Section 2302d, “Major System: definitional threshold amounts.”

1.h. Title 10, U.S.C., Section 2371b, “Authority of the Department of Defense to carry out certain prototype projects.”

1.i. Title 10, U.S.C., Section 2373, “Procurement for experimental purposes.”


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

Documentation Elements to Address Approval Authority
Acquisition Decision Memorandum   ASN (RD&A)

Prototyping Plan


  • Prototype Acquisition Strategy
  • Performance Goals
  • Knowledge Points
  • System Experimentation and Assessment Plan
  • Prototype Deployment Strategy

Acquisition Plan


When required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)



Capability Documentation (within 6 months of initiation)


  • Top Level Requirements Document -or-
  • JEONS, JUONS, Service ONS -or- –
  • CDD or CPD

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 fielding.