Acquisition Process

Acquisition Strategy

The Acquisition Strategy is a comprehensive plan that identifies and describes the acquisition approach that Program Management will follow to manage program risks and meet program objectives. The Acquisition Strategy guides program execution across the entire program life cycle and is updated at every major milestone and review.  An approved strategy is reviewed and approved by the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) at Milestone A and the Development RFP Decision Point. The acquisition strategy is then updated for MDA approval at Milestone B, Milestone C, and Full-Rate Production Decision (FRPD) review. [2]


Acquisition Strategy Main Elements [1]

  1. Business Strategy: Address the main contracting approach, including contract types; how the competition will be sought, promoted, and sustained; source selection procedures, provisions, and sources; product support considerations; and leasing arrangements.
  2. Contracting Strategy: Explain and, to the extent necessary, provide the analysis and rationale for the contracting strategy. Justify the use of fixed-price or cost-plus vehicles. Explain why the incentives provided were chosen and why there is confidence that they will successfully motivate the contractor to provide the performance desired by the government.
  3. Major Contract(s): Identify the number and type of contracts, deliverable items, options, exit criteria, contracting plan (competitive versus sole source and future down-select options), along with any other considerations.
  4. Incentives: For each major contract, describe the contract incentives in detail. State how contract incentives are going to be employed to achieve required cost, schedule, and performance outcomes. If more than one incentive is planned for a contract, the Technology Development Strategy (TDS) and Acquisition Strategy should explain how the incentives complement each other and do not interfere with one another.
  5. Technical Data Management: The strategy for Acquisition Category (ACAT) I and II programs shall assess the long-term technical data needs for the system and reflect that assessment in both the TDS and the acquisition strategy.
  6. Sustainment: The acquisition strategy should provide an overview of the sustainment-related contract(s) and performance-based agreements, with government and industry providers describing how the integrated product support package will be acquired for the system being supported. The discussion should include the contract/agreement and length, along with major terms and conditions; performance measures being used, and the portion of the system covered with the associated sustainment-related functions, plus hardware and data covered in each contract/agreement.

Template: DoD Acquisition Strategy Template – 20 April 2011


Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 7.1 and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 207.1 address policies related to acquisition planning and the development of written acquisition plans.

Requirements that must be addressed in the Acquisition Strategy include:

  • Benefit Analysis and Needs Determination
  • Consideration of Technology Issues
  • Contracting Strategies
    • Contract-Type Determination
    • Termination Liability Estimate
  • Cooperative Opportunities
  • General Equipment Validation
  • Industrial Base Capabilities Consideration
  • Intellectual Property (IP) Strategy
  • Market Research

The Acquisition Strategy should also:

  • Provide sufficient detail to allow decision-makers and the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) to assess whether the strategy makes good business sense, effectively implements laws and policies, and reflects management‘s priorities
  • Provide a detailed plan for successful completing of the EMB phase and Operations and Support (O&S) Phase
  • Cover development, testing, production, and life-cycle support. It should establish the requirements for each phase, and identify the critical management events.
  • Describe the Critical Program Information (CPI)
  • Describe the Contract Strategy of the program.
  • Describe the knowledge and products needed from Test & Evaluation (T&E), and their timing, to inform acquisition decisions and milestones across the life cycle
  • Define approach for Small businesses, including Small Disadvantaged Businesses, Women-Owned Small Business, Veteran-Owned Small Business, Service-Disabled Small Business, and Historically Underutilized Business Zones.
  • Define the relationship between the acquisition phases and work efforts, and key program events such as decision points, reviews, contract awards, test activities, production lot/delivery quantities, and operational deployment objectives.
  • Include a Top-Level Integrated Schedule and a summary of highlights from the Integrated Master Plan (IMP) and Integrated Master Schedule (IMS)
  • Defines the approach the program will use to achieve full capability: either Evolutionary or single step
  • Be complete enough to fully describe the planning considerations and decisions needed to balance cost, schedule, and life-cycle performance
  • Describe the treatment of interoperability requirements
  • Summarize how Human System Integration (HSI) requirements will be integrated within the systems engineering, logistics, technology development, and resource management processes, including a summary of the HSI risks and supporting mitigation plans
  • Describe the processes planned to protect the overall effort/program from threats, including adversaries, industrial espionage and threats to personal information, and including unfair competition
  • Summarize the Risk Management Process
  • Address the Technology Development Strategy (TDS)
  • Include results of industrial base capability (public and private) analysis to design, develop, produce, support, and, if appropriate, restart an acquisition program
  • Highlight the strategy for assessing industrial and manufacturing readiness.
  • Include a summary of the Programmatic Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health Evaluation (PESHE)
  • Describe signature support requirements and required funding to support program-related efforts.

Table of Content (Notional)

  1. Purpose and Program Description
  2. Capability Need
  3. Acquisition Approach
  4. Tailoring
  5. Program Schedule
  6. Risk Areas and Design Considerations
  7. Business Strategy
  8. Cost and Funding
  9. Resource Management
  10. International Involvement
  11. Industrial Capability and Manufacturing Readiness
  12. Life-Cycle Signature Support
  13. Military Equipment Valuation
  14. Test Strategy
  15. Identification of Participants in Acquisition Plan Preparation


  • The Defense Acquisition Guidebook, Chapter 2, provides more detail about what should be covered in the Acquisition Strategy.

AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 4/14/2021

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