Acquisition Process

Acquisition Executives

A Program Manager (PM) for any DoD program needs to know who the Defense Acquisition Executives (DAE) are that can influence their program. A PM needs to practice Social Engineering to keep these Stakeholders informed and advocates of their program In the complex world of defense procurement, the role of defense acquisition executives is paramount. These individuals play a crucial part in shaping the acquisition process, ensuring efficiency, transparency, and effectiveness. To delve deeper into this intricate realm, let’s explore who defense acquisition executives are and their pivotal role in the defense acquisition landscape.

Definition: Defense Acquisition Executives (DAE) are high-ranking officials responsible for overseeing and managing the acquisition process within defense organizations. Their primary goal is to ensure that the military acquires the necessary goods and services to meet its mission requirements, all while adhering to budgetary constraints and timelines.

Key Defense Acquisition Executives in the Acquisition Hierarchy:

The hierarchy of defense acquisition executives varies across nations, but they typically include key positions such as the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD(A&S)), the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition (ASD(A)), and the Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition (PMilDep-ASD(A)). Each of these roles contributes to the smooth functioning of the defense acquisition process.

  • Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD(A&S)): At the top of the hierarchy is the USD(A&S). This individual is responsible for overarching policy and guidance, ensuring that acquisition programs align with the strategic goals of the Department of Defense. They oversee major defense acquisition programs and work to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the acquisition system.
  • Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition (ASD(A)): Reporting to the USD(A&S) is the ASD(A), who oversees the implementation of acquisition policies and provides guidance to the military departments. This role involves collaborating with industry partners, managing acquisition workforce initiatives, and ensuring that the acquisition process aligns with national security objectives.
  • Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition (PMilDep-ASD(A)): This position bridges the gap between civilian leadership and the military. The PMilDep-ASD(A) works closely with the ASD(A) to ensure that the military’s operational needs are met through effective acquisition strategies. They provide military expertise in shaping acquisition policies and contribute to the decision-making process.
  • Service Acquisition Executives (SAE): Service Acquisition Executives is a single official within a DoD component that is responsible for all acquisition functions within that component. This includes Secretaries of the Military Departments or Heads of Agencies with the power of regulation. In the Military Departments, the officials delegated as SAEs (also called Component Acquisition Executives (CAE) are:
      • Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology)
      • Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition)
      • Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics)
  • Program Executive Officer (PEO): The PEO is a military or civilian official who has responsibility for directing several MDAPs and for assigned major system and non-major system acquisition programs. A PEO normally receives guidance from the CAE.

What are their Roles and Responsibilities:

Defense acquisition executives are tasked with numerous responsibilities, including:

  • Policy Development: Crafting and implementing acquisition policies that align with national security objectives.
  • Oversight and Accountability: Ensuring accountability for cost, schedule, and performance of defense acquisition programs.
  • Budgetary Control: Managing budget constraints and resource allocation to optimize procurement processes.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Collaborating with industry partners, military departments, and other stakeholders to enhance communication and streamline the acquisition process.
  • Risk Management: Identifying and mitigating risks associated with acquisition programs to minimize potential setbacks.
  • Action as a Milestone Decision Authority: The MDA is the overall executive sponsor responsible for any Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP). The MDA formally initiates each increment of an evolutionary acquisition program. The Program Manager is responsible for reporting to the MDA and adhering to their guidelines.

Defense acquisition executives are the driving force behind the efficient procurement of goods and services for the military. Their strategic vision, policy implementation, and oversight contribute to the strength and readiness of the armed forces. As technology evolves and security challenges persist, the role of defense acquisition executives remains pivotal in adapting and modernizing defense capabilities to safeguard national interests. Understanding their functions and responsibilities is essential for anyone interested in the intricate world of defense acquisitions.


  • A PM also needs to work closely with the Program Element Monitor (PEM)

AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 1/4/2024

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