Tailoring Guidance

The goal of the Adaptive Acquisition Framework is to empower innovation and common-sense decision making through the decision-making process, while also maintaining discipline in our practices and procedures.

Mr. Kevin Fahey

Programs may tailor one or more acquisition pathways to deliver capabilities. 

Reference Source: DoDI 5000.02 Sect 3.1


Decision authorities will tailor:

  • program strategies and oversight
  • phase content
  • the timing and scope of decision reviews
  • decision levels

based on the characteristics of the capability being acquired (including complexity, risk, and urgency) to satisfy user requirements.  MDAs for MDAPs and major systems will approve, as appropriate, the acquisition strategy at all major decision points.


Reference Source: DoDI 5000.02 Sect 4.1


PMs will develop an acquisition strategy for MDA approval that matches the acquisition pathway processes, reviews, documents, and metrics to the character and risk of the capability being acquired.


PMs, with the approval of MDAs/DAs, may leverage a combination of acquisition pathways to provide value not otherwise available through use of a single pathway.  The use of multiple pathways does not affect the application of statutory thresholds otherwise applicable to the program as a whole, such as the MDAP or major system (ACAT II) thresholds unless a statute permits. 


PMs employing multiple pathways will:

  • Define the transition points from one pathway to another pathway.
  • Anticipate, develop, and coordinate the information requirements required at the new pathway entry point.  Links provided in MDID identify regulatory and statutory information requirements for major capability acquisition, and the statutory requirements for other pathways.
  • Ensure a smooth transition.


In addition, PMs will:

  • “Tailor in” the regulatory information requirements that will be used to describe the management of the program.  In this context, “tailoring-in” means that the PM will identify, and recommend for MDA/DA approval,  the regulatory information that will be employed to document program plans and how that information will be formatted and provided for review by the decision authority.  The PM’s recommendation will be reviewed by the MDA/DA, and the MDA/DA’s decision will be documented in an acquisition decision memorandum.  MDAs/DAs will coordinate, when necessary, with other regulatory document approval authorities to facilitate implementation of this approach.  Statutory requirements will not be waived unless a statute permits.
  • Design program and business strategies to facilitate the acquisition of appropriate and cost effective technology solutions and achieve mission success while being mutually advantageous to the DoD and its industry partners.  Similarly, PMs will consider acquisition strategies that leverage international acquisition and supportability planning to improve economies of scale, strengthen the defense industrial base, and enhance coalition partner capabilities to prepare for joint operations.
  • Recognize that cybersecurity is a critical aspect of program planning.  It must be addressed early and continuously during the program life cycle to ensure cybersecurity operational and technical risks are identified and reduced and that fielded systems are capable, effective, and resilient.
  • Consider the procurement of data deliverables and associated license rights needed to support competitive acquisition and life-cycle sustainment strategies.
  • Prioritize product support and affordability during early program planning to ensure sustained mission effectiveness.
  • Establish a risk management program to ensure program cost, schedule, and performance objectives are achieved, and to communicate the process for managing program uncertainty.  In consultation with the user representative, the PM will determine which environment, safety, and occupational health risks must be eliminated or mitigated, and which risks can be accepted.
  • When consistent with pathway requirements, develop engineering plans and processes applicable to the pathways to mature technology, conduct necessary systems engineering tradeoffs, and produce and manage appropriate technical baselines through the use of systems engineering technical reviews.

Additional Resources