Science & Engineering

Spectrum Management

Spectrum Management is the process of regulating the use of radio frequencies to promote efficient use. The goal of spectrum management is to enable electronic systems to perform their functions in the intended environment without causing or experiencing unacceptable interference. The electromagnetic radio frequency spectrum (3 kHz to 400 GHz) is critical to the development and operation of a variety of military systems such as radios, radars, and satellites. Due to the changing nature of warfighting, more and more military systems depend on the spectrum to guide precision weapons and obtain information superiority.

Instruction: DoD Instruction 4650.01 “Policy and Procedures for Management and Use of the Electromagnetic Spectrum”

Website: DISA Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO)

In recent years, demand for the spectrum increased with advances in commercial technology. This demand has led to competition between government and nongovernment users, making spectrum management vital to prevent harmful interference and to promote spectrum efficiency. With these goals in mind, the DoD Instruction 4650.01, requires system developers and acquirers to consider and deal with spectrum supportability knowledge early in the development and acquisition of systems. Early assessment of spectrum needs provides DOD the opportunity to identify, and therefore, better manage program and operational risks. DOD policy requires developers of spectrum-dependent systems to obtain certification before assumption of contractual obligations for the full-scale development, production or procurement of those systems.

Before certification, DoD organizations shall determine if there will be sufficient spectrum to support the operation of a system during its life cycle and: [1]

  1. Identify spectrum-related risks as early as possible via spectrum supportability risk assessments
  2. Review these assessments at acquisition milestones
  3. Manage the risks throughout the system’s lifecycle

DoD Instruction 4650.01 Appendix 3, list certification processes and procedures to include:

  • United States Government (USG) and Host Nation (HN) Requirements
  • Spectrum Supportability Risk Assessment (SSRA)
    • Table 2. SSRA Suggested Tasks
  • Acquisition Oversight of Spectrum Supportability Risk
    • Table 1. Acquisition Oversight of Spectrum Supportability Risks
  • Spectrum Dependent System Technical Data

Government Accountability Office (GAO)

The GAO found that DOD’s weapons programs have often failed to obtain, consider, or act upon adequate spectrum supportability knowledge during the early stages of acquisition. A majority of programs try to gain this knowledge at later stages, after key systems development decisions may have been made. As a result, some programs experience significant delays, reduced operational capabilities, or the need for expensive redesign.

AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 8/2/2021

Rank: G26.2

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