An Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) is a management tool used to propose a configuration change to a Configuration Item (CI) and its government-baselined performance requirements and configuration documentation during an acquisition program. 
Definition: An Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) is a formal document used in engineering and project management to propose modifications, improvements, or changes to an existing product, system, or project.
Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) Initiation
The initiation of an ECP begins at the government’s request unless it’s an unsolicited ECP from a contractor. Since most ECPs occur in a sole-source environment, the initiation of an ECP should be a well-planned and coordinated effort between the government and the contractor. A clear mutual understanding of the ECP objective, technical scope, and the Government’s performance, cost, and schedule constraints shortens the lead-time for ECP preparation. It also results in a complete and comprehensive proposal to facilitate timely and effective implementation. The two main types of ECP initiation are:
- Solicited: When the government finds a need or requirement to change a configuration item (CI) and its configuration documentation, it asks the contractor for a Class I ECP. Before it goes to the contractor, a request for an ECP is coordinated with the appropriate government Contracting Officer.
- Unsolicited: When a contractor asks for a change and not requested by the government. In general, Class I ECPs that are not asked for are not a good idea. But, if the activity doing the buying wants to, a preliminary ECP can be sent to see if it’s worth spending the time and money to fully document a proposed change.
Main Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) Reference
Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) Classifications
- Class 1 Criteria: An ECP proposing a change to approved configuration documentation for which the government is the Configuration Documentation Configuration Authority (CDCA) or that has been included in the contractor statement of work by the tasking activity and:
- Affects any physical or functional requirement in the approved functional or allocated configuration documentation
- Affects any approved functional, allocated or product configuration documentation, and cost, warranties, or contract milestones
- Affects any approved product configuration documentation
- Class 2 Criteria: An ECP proposing a change to approved configuration documentation for which the government is the CDCA or that has been included in the contractor statement of work by the tasking activity and which is not a Class 1
Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) Preparation and Submittal
Formal and preliminary ECPs are prepared and submitted to the Government in accordance with the configuration management requirements of the applicable contract Statement of Work (SOW) and associated Contract Data Requirements List (CDRL), DD Form 1423 citing the latest approved Data Item Description (DID) for submittal of ECP data. The contract CDRL should provide information on the submittal and distribution of ECPs for Government review and processing.
Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) Key Components
Key components of an Engineering Change Proposal may include:
- Description of Change: A clear, detailed explanation of what the suggested change is and what changes will be made.
- Rationale: The reasons for the suggested change, such as fixing bugs, making things run better, meeting new rules, or responding to customer feedback.
- Scope: The amount of the change that will be made and how it might affect other parts of the product, system, or project.
- Benefits: The expected benefits or improvements that will come from the suggested change, such as better functionality, lower costs, more safety, etc.
- Cost Estimation: An estimate of what the suggested change will cost in terms of money and resources, including the cost of materials, labor, and other costs.
- Schedule: The planned time frame for putting the change into effect, including any possible delays or interruptions.
- Risk Assessment: An evaluation of the suggested change’s possible risks and challenges, as well as ways to reduce these risks.
- Approval Process: The chain of command or decision-making hierarchy that decides whether the planned change will be accepted or not. This could involve reviews from tech teams, management, or regulatory bodies at different levels.
- Supporting Papers: Technical specifications, design drawings, test results, and any other relevant information that helps prove the need for the proposed change.
- Change Impact Analysis: A look at how the proposed change might affect other parts of the project, such as how it works with other systems, how compatible it is, and how it fits in with the general project goals.
- Traceability: Making sure that the suggested change is in line with the project’s requirements, standards, and rules.
Review and Disposition of Engineering Change Proposal (ECP)
In order to facilitate dispositioning ECPs affecting documents for which the Government is CDCA, contracts should identify the government representative(s) responsible for dispositioning both Class I and Class II ECPs.
(approved or disapproved) for implementation by a properly constituted Government Configuration Control Board (CCB). After the CCB direction is issued, it is important to proceed expeditiously with the “definitization” process (obtaining a pricing proposal, auditing, fact-finding, and negotiating the final price) for this change and issuing a supplemental agreement. Until the contract modification is received and bi-laterally agreed to by the Government and the contractor, the contractor is not authorized to proceed with the implementation of the proposed change.
Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) Approval vs. Acceptance
The contractual approval or disapproval of an ECP should not be confused with the acceptance and approval of the ECP as a data deliverable.
- Approval of the ECP data delivery required by CDRL/DD Form 1423 signifies only that the ECP satisfies the requirements of the ECP DID and is considered acceptable for government processing.
- Acceptance of the data deliverable does not signify “technical approval” of the change proposed by the ECP and should not be interpreted as authorizing the performing activity(s) to proceed with the work proposed by the ECP. Unless otherwise specified by contract), the government administrative contracting officer or plant representative serves as the dispositioning authority for Class II ECPs
Approved Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) Changes
The incorporation of approved changes should be planned so that optimum acquisition, production, tests, evaluation, and operational advantages can be derived from the modified configuration. The change is effectively coordinated to ensure that the earliest possible availability and support of the CI is provided with minimum disruptive effect on planned operating cycles.
Changes shall be incorporated only after the Contract modification/Program Contracting Officer (PCO) letter or implementing directive/order is published and logistic support is available unless safety or critical mission requirements dictate otherwise. Unofficial or preliminary technical documents shall not be used as authority to incorporate changes.
– See Configuration Management
AcqLinks and References:
-  MIL-HDBK-61A: “Configuration Management Guidance” – 30 Sept 1997
- DD Form 1423 “Contract Data Requirments List (CDRL)”
- Website: MIL-HDBK-61A: Configuration Control
- Website: DFARS 252.243 – 7000 Engineering Change Proposals