Materiel Solutions Analysis (MSA) Phase_TEST


Pre-Materiel Development Decision (MDD)

This page overviews the relevant policy and guidance associated with preparation for a Materiel Development Decision (MDD). The material is summarized from Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 5000.85 and related functional policy and guidance documentation. This page provides material to review and consider while preparing for the MDD. Program staff should use this resource as a complement to immersion into the full set of related acquisition policy provided in Department directives (DoDDs), DoDIs, Memoranda, and Statute; as well as the available guidance that is identified throughout these pages.

Pre-MDD:  “… the bridge between JCIDS and the DAS.”
The Engineering of Defense Systems Guidebook

DoDI 5000.85 Policy Overview

DoD Instruction 5000.85, Major Capability Acquisition, describes the Materiel Development Decision (MDD) as the mandatory entry point into the MCA pathway and explains that this entry point is informed by a validated requirements document (e.g., an initial capabilities document (ICD) or equivalent) and the completion of the analysis of alternative (AoA) study guidance and the AoA study plan. These analytic documents are typically developed as part of the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) process and provide validated capability requirements to drive the Defense Acquisition System (DAS).

Key Functional Considerations for Pre-MDD

The pre-MDD phase, while not explicitly part of the MCA process, is critical to setting a future program up for success. There are several functional areas that are important to consider during the pre-MDD phase. Included below are key considerations and policy and guidance references associated with preparing for an MDD. They are provided to help focus PMs on relevant topics to review at this point in the MCA process.

Capability Requirements

The JCIDS processes, like the DAS, depend on early and continuous collaboration throughout the DoD enterprise.  They use a threat and technology informed approach to provide requirements for the development and delivery of a warfighter capability.  JCIDS documents provide the critical link between validated capability requirements and the acquisition of capability solutions through the five MCA phases: Materiel Solution Analysis (MSA), Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR), Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD), Production and Deployment (P&D), and Operations & Support (O&S).  CJCS Instruction 5123.01I, Charter of The Joint Requirements Oversight Council and Implementation of The Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System, describes the roles and responsibilities of the JROC.  The Manual for the Operation of The Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (a.k.a., the JCIDS Manual) describes policies and procedures for the requirements process.  These documents provide details on the ICD and Capability Development Document (CDD).  As stated earlier, and depicted in Figure 3, the ICD (or equivalent approved/validated requirements document) is the fundamental requirements document required for the MDD.


JCIDS and the DAS are two of the three main decision-support systems used by DoD civilian and military leaders to allocate resources and manage defense acquisitions.  The Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) System is the third.  Together, these systems are sometimes referred to as “Big A” acquisition.  A Guide to DoD Program Management Business Processes and A Guide to Program Management Knowledge Skills and Practices describes the integration of the following processes in greater detail:

  • JCIDS directs responsibilities for identifying, assessing, validating, and prioritizing joint capability requirements.
  • The DAS is the management process for ALL DoD acquisitions.
  • DoD Directive14, The Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) Process, describes the PPBE process used to plan and program acquisition and sustainment dollars within resource constraints. The PPBE process supports the annual resource allocation for DoD within a quadrennial planning cycle.  The National Military Strategy (NMS), force development guidance, program guidance, and budget guidance drive this entire process.  The budget only covers one year; the program encompasses an additional four years for planning purposes.


Cost Analysis and Program Evaluation

Per DoD Instruction 5000.84, Analysis of Alternatives, the Director, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (DCAPE) will provide AoA study guidance to the DoD Component prior to the MDD to inform the preparation of the AoA study plan.  Also prior to the MDD, DoD Components are required to submit to DCAPE an AoA study plan and a memorandum confirming completion of preparatory actions and certifying that the Component is ready to start the AoA.  The approval date of the study plan is typically the date of the MDD event, and will serve as the start date of the AoA.  DoDI 5000.84 provides the specific timelines for approving the study plan and completing the AoA, as well as justifications and procedures for waivers.

The Analysis of Alternatives Cost Estimating Handbook complements DoDI 5000.84 by detailing AoA cost guidance and the affordability analysis.  It contains specifics on the standard elements included in AoA cost guidance as well as best practices for conducting AoA cost analysis.  Affordability analysis is conducted in support of an AoA and considers the affordability of proposed solutions, to include any Milestone Decision Authority (MDA)-established affordability goals.  This analysis is used, in part, to support development of program goals pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 4271, Program cost, fielding, and performance goals in planning major defense acquisition programs.


DoDI 5000.88, Engineering of Defense Systems, establishes engineering policy for defense systems, and highlights that engineering activities begin at the identification of a military need and continue throughout sustainment of the end item.

  • OUSD(R&E) and the DoD Components will conduct concept exploration, mission engineering (ME), and engineering trades leading to a concept design review and the concept baseline.
  • DoD Components will assess and leverage, as applicable, analyses, prototyping, experimentation, and test results and activities to assist in the formulation of the mission and concept baselines.
  • Mission reviews will be conducted before the materiel development decision to establish a mission baseline and a preliminary concept design trade matrix.

DoDI 5000.88 requires that ME and mission integration management (MIM) activities start before conducting material solution analysis to inform development of the concept baseline, and continue through the acquisition life-cycle.

During the pre-MDD phase, ME and systems engineering (SE) activities play an important role.  The Engineering of Defense Systems Guidebook identifies the important pre-MDD ME and SE activities:

  • Provide an in-depth understanding of the current and evolving operational capability gaps defined in the ICD.
  • Identify an appropriate range of candidate materiel solutions from across the trade space.
  • Identify near-term opportunities to provide a rapid interim response.
  • Work with the S&T community to gain technical knowledge for each candidate materiel solution including experimentation and prototyping.
  • Analyze the trade space to determine performance versus cost benefits of potential solutions.
  • Plan the technical efforts required during the next phase.
  • Perform early risk analysis associated with alternatives to be analyzed in the next phase.
  • Work with requirements developers to ensure the quality of all operational requirements.

Industrial Base

The analysis of potential materiel solutions includes documented technical planning with respect to external dependencies and integration impacts on the industrial base as an input to the AoA Study Guidance.  Section 3 of A Guide to DoD Program Management Knowledge, Skills and Practices points out that it may not be necessary for each PM to perform an independent analysis of all industrial base considerations.  However, PMs should consult with their DoD Component industrial base team and the OSD industrial policy team for access to data, resources, and information to consider.

Market research is conducted to determine the availability of commercial products and services and to identify and evaluate market practices.  While a statutory requirement as part of the Acquisition Strategy required at Milestone A and the Development Request for Proposal (RFP) release point, market research is a stand-alone regulatory requirement at the MDD.  Section 3 of A Guide to DoD Program Management Knowledge, Skills and Practices includes additional details on market research and the insight it can provide.

International Acquisition and Exportability (IA&E)


Prior to the
Materiel Solution Analysis

·      Conduct an initial IA&E assessment to identify potential existing foreign solutions, ICP opportunities, foreign technology, or potential for future foreign sales.

·      Review Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) to identify potential coalition requirements, and potential foreign market to gain an understanding of coalition interoperability and exportability requirements.

International Acquisition and Exportability Actions (IA&E) Prior to the MDD and MSA Phase


The Guide to DoD International Acquisition and Exportability Practices details the IA&E planning considerations across the phases of the MCA pathway and provides information to assist PMs with International Acquisition concepts throughout the acquisition lifecycle.

Market Research

Section 3 of A Guide to DoD Program Management Knowledge, Skills and Practices describes market research as a stand-alone regulatory requirement at MDD, conducted to reduce the duplication of existing technologies and products and to understand potential materiel solutions, technology maturity, and potential sources providing valuable program planning insight.

Program Management

A Guide to DoD Program Management Business Processes summarizes the preparation and factors to consider preparing for MDD.



Initial Capabilities Document (ICD)—The ICD is the fundamental requirements document establishing validated capability requirements; it is required for the MDD.  Threat analysis supports preparation of the ICD by identifying the threat a capability is required to neutralize or defeat.  The JCIDS Manual details the use of and requirements associated with the ICD.


Sustainment factors should be considered early in the acquisition lifecycle.  DoD Instruction 5000.91, Product Support Management for the Adaptive Acquisition Framework, establishes product support management policy, directing life cycle product support planning to begin prior to program initiation.  Success requires early risk identification, mitigation, and product support analyses.  The following actions should be considered at this time:

  • The PSM must have input into systems engineering requirements, design, maintenance planning, and contract development.
  • The PSM will collaborate with the lead systems engineer to ensure implementation of reliability and maintainability through design, development, test, production, and sustainment.
  • The PM and the PSM must consider total life cycle costs, schedule, performance, and risks when making programmatic decisions, including those that impact life cycle product support.

Technology and Program Protection

Based on the technical maturity of the system/capability, the focus of program protection is to begin identifying systems security risks based on the range of candidate materiel solution approaches.  This program protection information supports the MDA’s decision to authorize entry into the acquisition lifecycle and to pursue a materiel solution.  Considering these preparatory actions, it should be noted that the formal Program Protection Plan (PPP) will not be required until Milestone A.

The Adaptive Acquisition Framework Document Identification (AAFDID) tool identifies the complete set of statutory and regulatory information requirements applicable to the MCA pathway. Requirements vary based on ACAT level. While statutory requirements must be satisfied unless the statute allows for waivers, regulatory requirements may be tailored at the MDA’s discretion. PMs must comply with the online requirements consistent with DoDI 5000.85.