Acquisition Process

Acquisition Category (ACAT)

 

The Defense Acquisition System divides acquisition programs into four (4) Acquisition Categories (ACAT): ACAT I, ACAT IA, ACAT II, and ACAT III. The difference between each categories is dependent on the location of a program in the Acquisition Process, funding amount for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E), total procurement cost, Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) special interest and decision authority. The categories are listed below:

Acquisition Category Reason for ACAT Designation Decision Authority
ACAT I Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP) (10 U.S.C. 2430 (Reference (n)))

  • Dollar value for all increments of the program: estimated by the DAE to require an eventual total expenditure for research, development, and test and evaluation (RDT&E) of more than $480 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 constant dollars or, for procurement, of more than $2.79 billion in FY 2014 constant dollars
  • MDA designation 

MDA designation as special interest1

  • ACAT ID: DAE or as delegated
  • ACAT IC: Head of the DoD Component or, if delegated, the CAE (not further delegable)
ACAT IA1,2 MAIS (10 U.S.C. 2445a (Reference(n))): A DoD acquisition program for an Automated Information System4 (AIS) (either as a product or a service5) that is either:

  • Designated by the MDA as a MAIS program; or
  • Estimated to exceed: 
    • $40 million in FY 2014 constant dollars for all expenditures, for all increments, regardless of the appropriation or fund source, directly related to the AIS definition, design, development, and deployment, and incurred in any single fiscal year; or 
    • $165 million in FY 2014 constant dollars for all expenditures, for all increments, regardless of the appropriation or fund source, directly related to the AIS definition, design, development, and deployment, and incurred from the beginning of the Materiel Solution Analysis Phase through deployment at all sites; or 
    • $520 million in FY 2014 constant dollars for all expenditures, for all increments, regardless of the appropriation or fund source, directly related to the AIS definition, design, development, deployment, operations and maintenance, and incurred from the beginning of the Materiel Solution Analysis Phase through sustainment for the estimated useful life of the system. 

MDA designation as special interest1

  • ACAT IAM: DAE or as delegated
  • ACAT IAC: Head of the DoD Component or, if delegated, the CAE (not further delegable)
ACAT II
  • Does not meet criteria for ACAT I or IA 
  • Major system (10 U.S.C. 2302d (Reference (n)))
    • Dollar value: estimated by the DoD Component Head to require an eventual total expenditure for RDT&E of more than $185 million in FY 2014 constant dollars, or for procurement of more than $835 million in FY 2014 constant dollars
    • MDA designation5 (10 U.S.C. 2302 (Reference (n)))
CAE or the individual designated by the CAE 6
ACAT III ACAT III programs are defined as those acquisition programs that do not meet ACAT I or II criteria.  
ACAT IV (Navy and Marine Corps only) ACAT programs in the Navy and Marine Corps not otherwise designated as ACAT III are designated ACAT IV. There are two categories of ACAT IV programs: IVT (Test) and IVM (Monitor). ACAT IVT programs require Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) while ACAT IVM programs do not. [See “Navy Acquisition Category”]  
  1. The Special Interest designation is typically based on one or more of the following factors: technological complexity; congressional interest; a large commitment of resources; or the program is critical to the achievement of a capability or set of capabilities, part of a system of systems, or a joint program. Programs that already meet the MDAP and MAIS thresholds cannot be designated as Special Interest.
  2. When a MAIS program also meets the definition of an MDAP, the DAE will be the MDA unless delegated to a DoD Component or other official. The DAE will designate the program as either a MAIS or an MDAP, and the Program Manager will manage the program consistent with the designation.
  3. The MDA (either the DAE or, if delegated, the DoD Chief Information Officer (CIO) or another designee) will designate MAIS programs as ACAT IAM or ACAT IAC. MAIS programs will not be designated as ACAT II.
  4. AIS: A system of computer hardware, computer software, data or telecommunications that performs functions such as collecting, processing, storing, transmitting, and displaying information. Excluded are computer resources, both hardware and software, that are an integral part of a weapon or weapon system; used for highly sensitive classified programs (as determined by the Secretary of Defense); used for other highly sensitive information technology (IT) programs (as determined by the DoD CIO); or determined by the DAE or designee to be better overseen as a non-AIS program (e.g., a program with a low ratio of RDT&E funding to total program acquisition costs or that requires significant hardware development).
  5. Acquisitions of services that satisfy or are expected to satisfy the definition of a MAIS in 10 U.S.C. 2445c, Reference (n), will comply with this instruction. All other acquisitions of services will comply with Enclosure 9 of DoD Instruction 5000.02 (Reference (b)).
  6. As delegated by the Secretary of Defense or Secretary of the Military Department.

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