Middle Tier of Acquisition (MTA)
MTA Statutes & Policy
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.
MTA Statutes (National Defense Authorization Acts [NDAAs])
Congress created the Middle Tier of Acquisition pathway via the FY16 NDAA Section 804 statute. In FY17, the definition of a Major Defense Acquisition Program was updated to specifically not include MTA programs. In FY18, additional MTA-related statutes were passed.
FY16 NDAA Section 804
Reference Source: NDAA for FY16, Section 804
SEC. 804. MIDDLE TIER OF ACQUISITION FOR RAPID PROTOTYPING AND RAPID FIELDING.
(a) GUIDANCE REQUIRED.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in consultation with the Comptroller of the Department of Defense and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, shall establish guidance for a ‘‘middle tier’’ of acquisition programs that are intended to be completed in a period of two to five years.
(b) ACQUISITION PATHWAYS.—The guidance required by subsection (a) shall cover the following two acquisition pathways:
(1) RAPID PROTOTYPING.—The rapid prototyping pathway shall provide for the use of innovative technologies to rapidly develop fieldable prototypes to demonstrate new capabilities and meet emerging military needs. The objective of an acquisition program under this pathway shall be to field a prototype that can be demonstrated in an operational environment and provide for a residual operational capability within five years of the development of an approved requirement.
(2) RAPID FIELDING.—The rapid fielding pathway shall provide for the use of proven technologies to field production quantities of new or upgraded systems with minimal development required. The objective of an acquisition program under this pathway shall be to begin production within six months and complete fielding within five years of the development of an approved requirement.
(c) EXPEDITED PROCESS.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—The guidance required by subsection (a) shall provide for a streamlined and coordinated requirements, budget, and acquisition process that results in the development of an approved requirement for each program in a period of not more than six months from the time that the process is initiated. Programs that are subject to the guidance shall not be subject to the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System Manual and Department of Defense Directive 5000.01, except to the extent specifically provided in the guidance.
(2) RAPID PROTOTYPING.—With respect to the rapid prototyping pathway, the guidance shall include—
(A) a merit-based process for the consideration of innovative technologies and new capabilities to meet needs communicated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the combatant commanders;
(B) a process for developing and implementing acquisition and funding strategies for the program;
(C) a process for cost-sharing with the military departments on rapid prototype projects, to ensure an appropriate commitment to the success of such projects;
(D) a process for demonstrating and evaluating the performance of fieldable prototypes developed pursuant to the program in an operational environment; and
(E) a process for transitioning successful prototypes to new or existing acquisition programs for production and fielding under the rapid fielding pathway or the traditional acquisition system.
(3) RAPID FIELDING.—With respect to the rapid fielding pathway, the guidance shall include—
(A) 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;
(B) a process for demonstrating performance and evaluating for current operational purposes the proposed products and technologies;
(C) a process for developing and implementing acquisition and funding strategies for the program; and
(D) a process for considering lifecycle costs and addressing issues of logistics support and system interoperability.
(4) STREAMLINED PROCEDURES.—The guidance for the programs may provide for any of the following streamlined procedures:
(A) The service acquisition executive of the military department concerned shall appoint a program manager for such program from among candidates from among civilian employees or members of the Armed Forces who have significant and relevant experience managing large and complex programs.
(B) The program manager for each program shall report with respect to such program directly, without intervening review or approval, to the service acquisition executive of the military department concerned.
(C) The service acquisition executive of the military department concerned shall evaluate the job performance of such manager on an annual basis. In conducting an evaluation under this paragraph, a service acquisition executive shall consider the extent to which the manager has achieved the objectives of the program for which the manager is responsible, including quality, timeliness, and cost objectives.
(D) The program manager of a defense streamlined program shall be authorized staff positions for a technical staff, including experts in business management, contracting, auditing, engineering, testing, and logistics, to enable the manager to manage the program without the technical assistance of another organizational unit of an agency to the maximum extent practicable.
(E) The program manager of a defense streamlined program shall be authorized, in coordination with the users of the equipment and capability to be acquired and the test community, to make trade-offs among life-cycle costs, requirements, and schedules to meet the goals of the program.
(F) The service acquisition executive, acting in coordination with the defense acquisition executive, shall serve as the milestone decision authority for the program.
(G) The program manager of a defense streamlined program shall be provided a process to expeditiously seek a waiver from Congress from any statutory or regulatory requirement that the program manager determines adds little or no value to the management of the program.
(d) RAPID PROTOTYPING FUND.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of Defense shall establish a fund to be known as the ‘‘Department of Defense Rapid Prototyping Fund’’ to provide funds, in addition to other funds that may be available for acquisition programs under the rapid prototyping pathway established pursuant to this section. The Fund shall be managed by a senior official of the Department of Defense designated by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. The Fund shall consist of amounts appropriated to the Fund and amounts credited to the Fund pursuant to section 828 of this Act.
(2) TRANSFER AUTHORITY.—Amounts available in the Fund may be transferred to a military department for the purpose of carrying out an acquisition program under the rapid prototyping pathway established pursuant to this section. Any amount so transferred shall be credited to the account to which it is transferred. The transfer authority provided in this subsection is in addition to any other transfer authority available to the Department of Defense.
(3) CONGRESSIONAL NOTICE.—The senior official designated to manage the Fund shall notify the congressional defense committees of all transfers under paragraph (2). Each notification shall specify the amount transferred, the purpose of the transfer, and the total projected cost and estimated cost to complete the acquisition program to which the funds were transferred.
FY17 NDAA Section 847
Reference Source: NDAA for FY17, Section 847
SEC. 847. REVISIONS TO DEFINITION OF MAJOR DEFENSE ACQUISITION PROGRAM.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 2430 of title 10, United States Code, is amended in subsection (a)—
(1) by redesignating paragraphs (1) and (2) as subparagraphs (A) and (B), respectively;
(2) by striking ‘‘In this chapter’’ and inserting ‘‘(1) Except as provided under paragraph (2), in this chapter’’; and
(3) by adding at the end the following new paragraph: ‘‘(2) In this chapter, the term ‘major defense acquisition program’ does not include an acquisition program or project that is carried out using the rapid fielding or rapid prototyping acquisition pathway under section 804 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (Public Law 114–92; 10 U.S.C. 2302 note).’’
FY18 NDAA Section 866
Reference Source: NDAA for FY18, Section 866
SEC. 866. MIDDLE TIER OF ACQUISITION FOR RAPID PROTOTYPE AND RAPID FIELDING.
Section 804(c)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (Public Law 114–92; 10 U.S.C. 2302 note) is amended—
(1) by striking subparagraph (C); and
(2) by redesignating subparagraphs (D) and (E) as subparagraphs (C) and (D), respectively.
The NDAA FY16 804(c)(2) subparagraph (C) that was struck was: “a process for cost-sharing with the military departments on rapid prototype projects, to ensure an appropriate commitment to the success of such projects”
MTA Policy and Guidance
USD(A&S) established policy and guidance to implement the FY16 NDAA Section 804 statute:
DoDI 5000.80: Operation of the Middle Tier of Acquisition, USD(A&S), 30 Dec 2019
The DODI 5000.80 cancels the following USD(A&S) MTA Authority and Guidance memos, which are provided here for historical reference:
- Middle Tier of Acquisition (Rapid Prototyping/Rapid Fielding) Interim Authority and Guidance, USD(A&S), 16 Apr 2018
- Middle Tier of Acquisition (Rapid Prototyping/Rapid Fielding) Interim Governance, USD(A&S), 9 Oct 2018
- Middle Tier Acquisition Interim Governance 2 memo, USD(A&S), 20 Mar 2019
Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) Guidance
See DoDI 5000.73 “Cost Analysis Guidance and Procedures” – March 13, 2020
Test and Evaluation (T&E) Guidance
- DoDI 5000.89 Test and Evaluation, 19 Nov 2020
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).