Middle Tier of Acquisition (MTA)

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Middle Tier of Acquisition (MTA) Tips!

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.

Is this your first time using the MTA Pathway?

Looking for some tips to help you be successful when executing an MTA Program?

If you answered YES to either of these questions, then this page is for you!

Reference Source: Guidance from OUSD(A&S)

When planning your MTA program…

  • Don’t take on too much!  To avoid creating overly large MTA programs, consider only tackling one or two major risk areas in your program and leave the rest for a follow-on development program.
  • Pursue outcomes not KPPs!  MTA supports changing requirements. This requires continual user involvement.
  • Tailor in!  Plan to meet the “intent” of all statutory and relevant regulatory documentation to avoid issues with coordination and approvals. This can mean tailoring and combining key documents.
  • Line up your funding!  Consider impacts of budget timing on the program’s proposed schedule.  Don’t rely on reprogramming requests or highly selective prototyping funds for full funding.
  • Collaborate with your stakeholders!  Meet users and testing representatives early while planning your program to mitigate risk of future schedule delays that might push the program over five years. True partnering and collaboration across the Services, PEOs, OSD, Industry and your organization is essential.
  • See the Rapid Prototyping MTA Planning and Rapid Fielding MTA Planning pages for more info


When contracting your MTA program…
  • Partner with Your CO/KO!  Standard procurement timelines can be very lengthy. Partner with your CO/KO on ways to streamline processes to provide more time for the program to design, test and deliver.
  • Have a responsive contingency plan!  If there is potential for a successful prototype being scaled to production, consider including the appropriate follow-on language in an Other Transaction (OT) vehicle to enable award of a follow-on Production OT or FAR contract without further competition.
  • See the Rapid Prototyping Contracting and Rapid Fielding Contracting pages for more info


When beginning your MTA program…


When executing your MTA program…
  • Iterate as often as possible!  Initial concept is the right solution about 10% of the time; iterating at least 2 times increases likelihood of success to 90%.
  • Adaptive capability delivery requires discipline!  Rigor in systems engineering and planning is key to success.
  • Deliveries of capabilities must be appropriately scoped!  Capability releases that contain too much content and releases with highly integrated hardware and software add risk to timely delivery.
  • Manage your talent!  Requires support from all of the functional representatives and stakeholders.
  • Invest in vendor relationship!  Prototyping approach requires alignment between vendor and government.
  • Complete a system-level preliminary design review prior to system development! Acquisition programs that implemented this practice had 47% less unit cost growth and 35% less schedule growth (See pg 3, “Statistically Significant Knowledge-Based Acquisition Practices and Their Corresponding Unit Cost and Schedule Outcomes” from GAO-20-439)
  • Release at least 90 percent of design drawings by critical design review! Acquisition programs that implemented this practice had 51% less unit cost growth and 40% less schedule growth (See same table as above on pg 3 in GAO-20-439)
  • Test a system-level integrated prototype by critical design review! Acquisition programs that implemented this practice had 30% less schedule growth (See same table as above on pg 3 in GAO-20-439)
  • See the Rapid Prototyping Prototype Development and Rapid Fielding System Production & Fielding pages for more info


When testing your MTA program…
  • Deliver better solutions faster!  Conduct tests and operational demonstrations early and often! It’s better to get some preliminary data and user feedback in Year 1 on your program rather than wait for perfect test conditions in Year 2.
  • Try, Fail, Learn, Try, Succeed!  
  • Continue collaborating with your stakeholders!  Meet users and testing representatives regularly to mitigate risk of future schedule delays.
  • See the Rapid Prototyping Test & Demo and Rapid Fielding Test & Demo pages for more info


When reporting your MTA program…