Acquisition Process Overview

Defense Acquisition System

The Department of Defense (DoD) Acquisition Process is one of three (3) procurement processes that make up and support the Defense Acquisition System and is implemented by DoD Instruction 5000.02 “Operation of the Defense Acquisition System”. This instruction provides the policies and principles that govern the defense acquisition system and forms the management foundation for all DoD programs. It also identifies the specific statutory and regulatory reports and other information requirements for each Milestone Review and decision point. The DoD calls the system an event based process where a program goes thru a series of processes, milestones and reviews from beginning to end.  Each milestone is the culmination of a phase were it’s determined if a program will proceed into the next phase. The DoD management technique that integrates all these essential acquisition activities is called the; Integrated Product and Process Development (IPPD).

Acquisition System

 Figure: Acquisition Process

 Below is a list of the phases that make up the DoD Acquisition Process. Each phase is also depicted in the figure above:

Each phase of the acquisition process has specific DoD regulations and federal statute that must be met. At the end of each phase there is a Milestone Review (A,B,C) to determine if the acquisition program has met these required regulations and statues to continue on into the next phase.

Visit: Milestone Requirements Matrix lists all the key criteria for each phase 

Acquisition Wall Chart: Defense Acquisition Lifecycle Wall Chart – Jan 18

Each acquisition program falls into an Acquisition Category (ACAT) depending on its overall funding level and importance. The category dictates the level of oversight a program will require. This oversight is provided by a Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) which is appointed by DoD senior leadership. The MDA seeks advice from a Defense Acquisition Board (DAB), chaired by the Under Secretary of Defense (OSD) (Acquisition, Technology & Logistics (AT&L), on major acquisition decisions. The most expensive programs are known as Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) or Major Automated Information System (MAIS). These programs have the most extensive statutory and regulatory reporting requirements. The ACAT levels are shown below and for more detailed information see the ACAT link.

  • ACAT I: R&D of more than $480M and total procurement $2.79 Billion
  • ACAT II: R&D of more than $185 and total procurement $835 Million
  • ACAT III: Less than ACAT II
  • ACAT IV: Only for the Navy and Marines

The policies and principles that govern the operations of the defense acquisition system are divided into five (5) major categories as stated by DoD Instruction 5000.02 “Operation of the Defense Acquisition System”:

  1. Flexibility: tailoring program strategies and oversight
  2. Responsiveness: rapid integration of advance technologies
  3. Innovation: adapt practices that reduce cost and cycle time
  4. Discipline: use of program baseline parameters as control objectives
  5. Effective Management: decentralization to the extent practicable

Main Reference

The Defense Acquisition Guidebook (DAG) is the main guide that details the overall DoD acquisition process and how it fits into the overall Defense Acquisition System. It provides the detailed guidance for the development, execution and disposal of all DoD acquisition program. It’s designed to complement the policy documents governing DoD acquisitions by providing the acquisition workforce with discretionary best practice that should be tailored to the needs of each program.



AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 3/5/2018

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