Major Capability Acquisition (MCA)

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PreMDD Test

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 5000.85, 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

DoD Instruction 5000.85 Policy
The Materiel Development Decision (MDD) is the mandatory entry point into the major capability acquisition pathway.

Required Preparations

Affordability Analysis—An affordability analysis is used to support development of program goals pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 4271.

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.

Information Requirements

The Adaptive Acquisition Framework Document Identification (AAFDID) tool identifies the complete set information requirements that must be prepared for the approaching MDD.