Activities Across Phases
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Space and Missile Defense
Major Capability Acquisition
This page provides a synopsis of the general policy and curated guidance associated with implementing the Major Capability Acquisition (MCA) pathway. The lead material is summarized from DoDI 5000.85 policy. Additional overviews of related functional policy and guidance that support the MCA pathway follow. This synopsis is an overview of a complex execution process. Program staff should consider available guidance but must comply with the full set of related acquisition policy provided in DoD acquisition issuances and executive memoranda, regardless of whether identified on this page or not.
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.
Reference Source: DODI 5000.02 Section 4.2.c
DoD Directive 5000.01 sets the overarching management principles that guide the defense acquisition system. DoD Instruction 5000.02 requires the timely delivery of operationally effective, suitable, survivable, affordable, secure, and supportable solutions to the end user. DoDI 5000.85 requires DoD to prioritize speed of delivery, security, continuous adaptation, and frequent modular upgrades to ensure a highly effective and lethal force by employing an adaptive acquisition framework, comprised of acquisition pathways tailored to the unique characteristics and risk profile of the capability being acquired.
Acquisitions rely on mature, proven technologies and early testing. Planning capitalizes on commercial solutions and non-traditional suppliers. It expands the role of both the warfighter and security, intelligence, and counterintelligence analysts. Programs are designed to facilitate capability enhancements.
Decision reviews are issue and data focused. They facilitate the MDA’s judgement on whether the program is ready to proceed. The MDA is the sole and final decision authority; staff members and the following organizations support the MDA:
- The Defense Acquisition Board (DAB), chaired by the DAE or designee, advises the DAE.
- DoD Components have similar procedures for less than ACAT ID programs.
- Overarching Integrated Product Teams, and similar organizations within the Components, assist the MDA in making sound investment decisions. These organizations are not decision bodies and do not supplant the authority of the PM, PEO, CAE, or DAE.
Acquisition decision memorandums (ADMs) document decisions.
DoD Process Relationships
Acquisition, requirements, and budgeting must operate simultaneously in close coordination. Adjustments may have to be made to keep the three processes aligned.
MDAs structure programs based on the product being acquired, complexity, risk, security, and urgency to satisfy the capability requirements.
PMs “tailor-in” regulatory information to describe their program at MDD or program inception—the MDA reviews PM recommendations and resolves issues and coordinates with regulatory document approval authorities to facilitate implementation. Statutory requirements cannot be waived unless permitted by statute.
Technologies successfully demonstrated under rapid prototyping or other prototyping authorities, may be transitioned to MCA programs as approved by the MDA. Technologies may provide the technical foundation for a formal acquisition program, incrementally improve a program capability, or support the development and insertion of more efficient program components. Similarly, products and technologies successfully demonstrated via rapid fielding may become a program. DoD Instruction 5000.80 provides additional direction.
Acquisition decisions will be made at the lowest authorized level, commensurate with the ACAT and program risk, to ensure they are timely, and made by those with the greatest knowledge of the program.
The following figure depicts the MCA model.
Lifecycle View of Major Capability Acquisition
Reference Source: DODI 5000.02 Section 4.2.c
The Adaptive Acquisition Framework Document Identification (AAFDID) tool identifies the complete set of information requirements applicable to the MCA pathway. PMs must comply with the online requirements consistent with the policy specified in DoDI 5000.85.
Key Functional Guidance
A Guide to DoD Program Management Business Processes describes DoD operations to organize, plan, and execute an acquisition program. The guide describes “Big A”:
- JCIDS directs responsibilities for identifying, assessing, validating, and prioritizing joint capability requirements. CJCS Instruction 5123.01I describes the roles and responsibilities of the JROC. The JCIDS Manual describes policies and procedures for the requirements process.
- The Defense Acquisition System (DAS) is the management process for ALL DoD acquisitions.
- The PPBE process is used to plan and program acquisition and sustainment dollars within resource constraints. IAW DoD Directive 7045.14, 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 the entire process. Note, the “budget” only covers one year while the “program” encompasses an additional four years of planning cycles.
The complement to the guide, A Guide to Program Management Knowledge Skills and Practices, focuses on the detail of executing the processes identified above.
Defense Acquisition System
Reference Source: DODI 5000.85, Section 3.1
Preparations required for a Materiel Development Decision (MDD)
This page provides a synopsis of the common preparations required for a Materiel Development Decision (MDD). The material is summarized from DoDI 5000.85 and related functional policy and guidance. The synopsis is an overview of a complex activity; program staff should consider published guidance but must comply with the full set of related acquisition policy provided in DoD issuances, executive memoranda, and applicable statute, regardless of whether identified on this page or not.
Pre-MDD: “… the bridge between JCIDS and the DAS.”
The Engineering of Defense Systems Guidebook
AoA Study Guidance and AoA Study Plan—The AoA study guidance informs preparation of the AoA study plan. The DoD Components submit the study plan to DCAPE for approval.
CJCSI 5123.01I requires a validated ICD before the MDD to inform MSA activities.
DoD Instruction 5000.84, Analysis of Alternatives, requires DoD Components to submit an AoA study plan and a memorandum confirming completion of preparatory actions and certifying that the Component is ready to start the AoA. The instruction continues with the timeline to approve the study plan and complete the AoA, and provides a discussion of waivers.
Engineering—DoD Instruction 5000.88, Engineering of Defense Systems, establishes engineering policy:
- 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 conduct concept exploration, mission engineering, and engineering trades leading to a concept design review and the concept baseline.
- DoD Components assess and leverage analyses, prototyping, experimentation, and test results to assist formulation of the mission and concept baselines.
- Mission reviews are conducted before the materiel development decision to establish a mission baseline and a preliminary concept design trade matrix.
Policy in DoDI 5000.88 requires that mission engineering (ME) and mission integration management (MIM) activities inform development of the concept baseline before the material solution analysis phase.
Guidance in the Engineering of Defense Systems Guidebook indicates that even during pre-MDD, ME and systems engineering (SE) activities play an important role. 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.
Initial Capabilities Document (ICD)—The ICD is the fundamental requirements document establishing validated capability requirements; it is required for the MDD. The Joint Staff instruction and manual detail the ICD and the CDD.
International Acquisition and Exportability—Table 1 in the Guide to DoD International Acquisition and Exportability suggests an early IA&E assessment and a review the ICD to determine IA&E potential.
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, providing valuable program planning insight.
Life Cycle Product Support—DoD Instruction 5000.91, Product Support Management for the Adaptive Acquisition Framework, establishes pre-MDD product support policy:
- Product support planning and product support strategy development begin prior to program initiation.
- The PSM collaborates with the lead systems engineer
- The PM and the PSM must consider total life cycle costs, schedule, performance, and risks.
Threat Analysis—Identifies the threat the capability is designed to neutralize or defeat.
Section 8 of A Guide to DoD Program Management Business Processes should be considered mandatory preparation to gain MDA/DA approval at the MDD.
The Adaptive Acquisition Framework Document Identification (AAFDID) tool identifies the complete set information requirements that must be prepared for the approaching MDD.
Materiel Development Decision (MDD)
This page provides a detailed synopsis of the most common policy and curated guidance associated with the Materiel Development Decision. The material is summarized from DoDI 5000.85 and related functional policy and guidance. The synopsis is an overview of a complex activity; program staff should consider published guidance but must comply with the full set of related acquisition policy provided in DoD issuances, executive memoranda, and applicable statute, regardless of whether identified on this page or not.
DoD Instruction 5000.85 Policy
The MDD is the mandatory entry point into the major capability acquisition (MCA) process. The decision is informed by a validated initial capabilities document (ICD) or equivalent [CJCSI 5123.01I], and the completion of the analysis of alternatives (AoA) study guidance and AoA study plan.
At the MDD Review
The Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (DCAPE), or DoD Component equivalent, will present the AoA study guidance, and the DoD Component will present the AoA study plan.
The MDA determines the acquisition phase of entry and the initial review milestone. An ADM documents the decisions.
The Adaptive Acquisition Framework Document Identification (AAFDID) tool identifies the complete set of MDD information requirements. PMs must comply with the online requirements, consistent with the policy specified in DoDI 5000.85.
Key Functional Policy and Guidance
For MDAPs, DoDI 5000.85 requires that the Service Chief(s) concur with the need for a materiel solution.
The JCIDS Manual, Appendix A, Enclosure A, makes the validated ICD a critical entry criterion for the MDD. It guides the sponsor’s activities during Materiel Solution Analysis (MSA).
If the Sponsor proposes to start with a CDD, the Sponsor will request an ICD waiver through the Joint Staff Gatekeeper.
The MDA may abbreviate or eliminate MSA at the MDD review.
Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation
DoDI 5000.84, Analysis of Alternatives, details the MDD requirements and timelines associated with cost estimation and the analysis of alternatives.
The Analysis of Alternatives Cost Estimating Handbook complements DoDI 5000.84 by detailing AoA cost guidance and the affordability analysis.
The DoD Cost Estimating Guide v2 details the cost estimating process, introduces important topics and concepts, and points the reader to other resources. It provides:
- Examples of a work breakdown structure (WBS) and a cost element structure (CES).
- A case study of the cost estimating process.
- A recommended reading list.
- Updated statutory and policy references.
- Updated DAU references and revised course numbers.
- Framing assumptions
- Capabilities-based assessment
- Initial capabilities document
- Concept design trade matrix
- ME analysis
- A concept of operations (CONOPS) or Operational Mode Summary/Mission Profile
- Assessment of program risks along with technology development and other risk mitigation activities, appropriate affordability targets, and initial schedule basis
- A Cyber security assessment
The Engineering of Defense Systems Guidebook reiterates that, depending on the maturity of the preferred materiel solution, the MDA designates the program entry point at the MDD.
Other MCA pathway guidance includes:
- Use milestones, tech reviews, and audits as key points for program evaluation.
- Use knowledge-based product development practices to confirm tech maturity, design stability, and production process control.
- Ensure a high level of knowledge about the system at key program points.
Human Systems Integration
DoD Instruction 5000.95, Human Systems Integration in Defense Acquisition, requires planning and implementing an HSI program throughout the program life cycle to optimize total system performance, reduce total ownership costs, and ensure the system design enables mission accomplishment.
The capability developer or program manager must address manpower affordability early in the acquisition process.
International Acquisition and Exportability (IA&E)
DoD Instruction 5000.85, Major Capability Acquisition, Appendix 3C, provides IA&E policy. PMs must integrate IA&E planning into strategy beginning at the entry milestone and continue through all acquisition phases. They must design the system for exportability to foreign partners (except when the MDA approves a U.S.-only design), and plan for the demand and likelihood of cooperative development or production. PMs must consider U.S. export control laws, regulations, and DoD policy for foreign transfers in accordance with (IAW) DoDI 2040.02. And, IAW DoDI 2010.06, they must pursue cooperative opportunities and international involvement.
The Guide to DoD International Acquisition and Exportability suggests that U.S. acquisition of foreign defense equipment may be a potentially viable alternative to developing a new U.S. item.
Product Support and Sustainment
DoD Instruction 5000.91, Product Support Management for the Adaptive Acquisition Framework, establishes the policy for product support. Product support is critical to achieving and sustaining warfighter readiness and lethality. 5000.91 defines product support management as the means to achieve the required supportability cost, schedule, and performance objectives.
Subsection 3A.2.b of 5000.85 requires an SAE to provide sufficient information to the DAE to allow the DAE to consider whether any of the bases for designation of an alternate MDA exist.
DoDI 5000.85 allows PMs to “tailor-in” regulatory information for their program. MDAs resolve issues related to tailoring-in, and statutory requirements may only be waived if permitted by statute.
To counter the threat from strategic competitor nations, DoD Instruction 5000.83, Technology and Program Protection to Maintain Technological Advantage, requires DoD to employ risk-based measures to protect systems and technologies from adversarial exploitation and the compromise of systems, components, software, hardware, or supply chains. DoD must manage any such risk of adversarial exploitation and compromise of defense technology and programs beginning with early S&T investment and continuing throughout the entire system life-cycle.
Acquisition Process Decisions and Phases
Reference Source: DODI 5000.85, Section 3.4
Acquisition decisions will be made at the lowest authorized level, commensurate with the ACAT and program risk, to ensure they are timely, and made by those with the greatest knowledge of the program. Figure 2 depicts a major capability acquisition model. The paragraphs that follow describe the decision points and activity phases that apply to almost any acquisition.