Technology Development

Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA)

A Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) (Title 10 U.S.C. § 2366b) is a formal, metrics-based process and accompanying report that assesses the maturity of critical hardware and software technologies called Critical Technology Elements (CTE) to be used in systems. It is conducted by an Independent Review Team (IRT) of subject matter experts (SMEs). All DoD acquisition programs must have a formal TRA at Milestone B and at Milestone C. A preliminary assessment is due for the Development RFP Release Decision Point. [2]

Purpose of the Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA)

The TRR is a statutory requirement for Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAP) per DoD Instruction 5000.02, Enclosure 4, and regulatory information required for all other acquisition programs. Title 10 United States Code (U.S.C.) Section 2366b requires, in part, that the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) certify that the technology in an MDAP has been demonstrated in a relevant environment and has a Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) of (TRL 6) before Milestone B approval. [2]

When is a Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) Conducted

The TRA may be conducted concurrently with other technical reviews such as the Alternative Systems Review (ASR), System Requirements Review (SRR), or the Production Readiness Review (PDR). The Defense Director for Research and Engineering (DDR&E) is required to conduct an independent TRA of MDAPs prior to Milestone B. [1]

Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) Results

The TRA should be used as a tool for assessing program risk and the adequacy of technology maturation planning. The TRA scores the current readiness level of selected system elements, using defined Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). Completion of the TRA should provide the following: [1]

  1. A comprehensive review, using an established program Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) as an outline, of the entire platform or system. This review, using a conceptual or established design, identifies program CTEs,
  2. Objective scoring of the level of technological maturity for each CTE by subject matter experts,
  3. Maturation plans for achieving an acceptable maturity roadmap for CTEs before critical milestone decision dates,
  4. A final report documenting the findings of the assessment panel.

TRAs Inform Technology Development and Identify Potential Concerns

While a TRA uses TRL as key metrics for the evaluation of each technology, an assessment is more than just a single number at only single point in time. It is a compilation of lower-level assessments that could span several years, based on the program schedule and complexity of the development. Evaluations can help gauge the progress of technology development, inform program plans, and identify potential concerns for decision-makers throughout acquisitions. Conducting TRAs periodically and during the earlier phases of development can identify potential concerns before risks are carried into the later and more expensive stages of system development.

TRAs can also facilitate communication between technology developers, program managers, and acquisition officials throughout development and at key decision points by providing a common language for discussing technology readiness and related technical risks. Finally, TRA results can inform other assessments and planning activities, such as cost and schedule estimates, risk assessments, and technology maturation plans. [4]

Program Managers (PM) have found that the TRA assessment process is useful in managing technology maturity. The TRA process highlights critical technologies and other potential technology risk areas that require the PM’s attention. The TRA can help identify immature and important components and track the maturity development of those components. Some programs use TRAs as an important part of their risk assessment.

Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) Requirements

STATUTORY:  A preliminary assessment is due for the Development RFP Release Decision Point. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASD(R&E)) will conduct an independent review and assessment of the TRA conducted by the Program Manager and other factors to determine whether the technology in the program has been demonstrated in a relevant environment. The assessment will inform the 2366b CERTIFICATION MEMORANDUM at Milestone B (in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 2366b (Reference (g)). The TRA at Milestone C is a Regulatory requirement when Milestone C is Program Initiation. [3]

Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) Deskbook

Detailed information about the TRA and its process and procedures can be found in the Technology Readiness Assessment Deskbook. The content of the Deskbook is listed below:

Guide: Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) Guidance – May 2011

TRA Deskbook Content
1.     Introduction
1.1     Technology Readiness Assessment Definition
1.2     TRA Authority
1.3     TRA Importance
1.3.1     Milestone B TRA
1.3.2     Milestone C TRA
1.4     Purpose and Organization of This Document
2.     Initiating and Conducting TRAs
2.1     Key Players and the TRA Timeline
2.2     Roles and Responsibilities
3.     Evolution of Knowledge on Technology Maturity
3.1     Early Evaluations of Technology Maturity
3.2     Summary List of Acronyms

Appendixes
A.     Submitting a Technology Readiness Assessment
B.     Guidance and Best Practices for Identifying Critical Technology Elements (CTEs)
C.     Guidance and Best Practices for Assessing Technology Maturity
D.     Amplifying Technology Readiness Assessment Guidance for Ships
E.     Biomedical Technology Readiness Levels
F.     Technology Maturity Policy
G.     The Technology Readiness Assessment Process
H.     Easy-Reference Displays of the Hardware/Software TRLs and Additional TRL Definitions

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Updated: 7/01/2021

Rank: G1

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