Acquisition Process

Milestone A

Milestone A is a Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) led review at the end of the Materiel Solutions Analysis (MSA) Phase in the Defense Acquisition Process.  Its purpose is to make a recommendation or seek approval to enter the Technology Maturation & Risk Reduction (TMRR) Phase. A milestone marks the start/or finish of a phase and has defined Entrance and Exit Criteria.

Definition: Milestone A is the point at which a program is reviewed for entrance into the Technology Maturation & Risk Reduction (TMRR) Phase. [2]

Acquisition System
Figure: Defense Acquisition Process

Milestone A Topics

For a list of mandatory items due at Milestone A, see the Milestone Requirements Matrix

The main topics the Program Manager (PM) will present at the milestone A review include the following: [2]

Milestone Approval

A Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP) or Major Automated Information Support (MAIS) may not receive Milestone A approval until the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) certifies, after consultation with the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) on matters related to program requirements and military needs, to the following, without modification, from 10 USC 4251, as amended by Public law 111-23, “Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009”, May 22, 2009: [1]

  1. That the program fulfills an approved Initial Capabilities Document (ICD);
  2. That the program is being executed by an entity with a relevant core competency as identified by the Secretary of Defense;
  3. An Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) has been performed consistent with the study guidance developed by the Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (DCAPE);
  4. An initial Life-Cycle Cost Estimate for the program has been submitted, with the concurrence of the Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE), and the level of resources required to develop and procure the program is consistent with the priority level assigned by the JROC; and
  5. [only include if the system duplicates a capability already provided by an existing system] the duplication provided by this system and (name of existing system) program is necessary to appropriate.


For MDAP at Milestone A, the MDA must certify in writing to the Congress that the Department has completed an Analysis of Alternative (AoA) consistent with study guidance developed by the DCAPE, in addition to meeting other certification criteria (10 U.S.C. 4251). The MDA decision will be presented in an Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM).

Program Support Review

The Program Support Review (PSR) is conducted to provide insight into current and future program execution through detailed analysis using the Defense Acquisition Program Support (DAPS) Methodology. The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Program Support Team applies the DAPS methodology to MDAP and MAIS programs approaching a Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) review. A PSR is designed to assist the Program Managers (PM) and systems engineer prepare for Milestone A, B, and C decision reviews.

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Updated: 2/20/2024

Rank: G2

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