Middle Tier Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles


The guidance for the programs may provide for any of the following streamlined procedures:

  • The SAE of the military department concerned shall appoint a PM for such program from among candidates from among civilian employees or members of the Armed Forces who have significant and relevant experience managing large and complex programs.
  • The PM for each program shall report with respect to such program directly, without intervening review or approval, to the SAE of the military department concerned.
  • The SAE of the military department concerned shall evaluate the job performance of such manager on an annual basis. In conducting an evaluation under this paragraph, a SAE shall consider the extent to which the manager has achieved the objectives of the program for which the manager is responsible, including quality, timeliness, and cost objectives.
  • The PM of a defense streamlined program shall be authorized staff positions for a technical staff, including experts in business management, contracting, auditing, engineering, testing, and logistics, to enable the manager to manage the program without the technical assistance of another organizational unit of an agency to the maximum extent practicable.
  • The PM of a defense streamlined program shall be authorized, in coordination with the users of the equipment and capability to be acquired and the test community, to make trade-offs among life-cycle costs, requirements, and schedules to meet the goals of the program.
  • The SAE, acting in coordination with the defense acquisition executive, shall serve as the milestone decision authority for the program.
  • The PM of a defense streamlined program shall be provided a process to expeditiously seek a waiver from Congress from any statutory or regulatory requirement that the PM determines adds little or no value to the management of the program.
  • Services have interim authority and guidance on implementing Section 804.
  • OSD(A&S) will work with the Services to collaboratively develop a policy based on initial efforts over the next year.
  • DoD Components are encouraged to immediately further implement the Section 804 authority by developing rapid prototyping and fielding processes and procedures.
  • OUSD(A&S) will commence a collaborative policy development effort no later than January 2019. This approach will allow DoD components to provide input based on their prototype process and procedures, analysis, and lessons learned into policy and guidance for implementing Section 804 authorities.
  • Organizations utilizing this interim authority must also identify data that can be shared across the Department via an open and collaborative Department-managed tool under the final guidance. This data must include, but not be limited to:
    • name of program
    • capability gap or problem
    • capability characteristic or solution
    • date funds approved for initiation
    • funding source
    • program result (transition or termination)
    • date of transition or termination
    • reason for transition or termination
    • program budget
    • vendor name(s)
  • Organizations utilizing this interim authority should also identify any additional education and training needs required to best utilize the Middle Tier of Acquisition responsibility and as a matter of regular acquisition practice. This information will be used to develop necessary curricula and programs at the Defense Acquisition University.
  • The DON will follow an incremental approach to implementation.
  • We will use these authorities to enable speed and agility, while maintaining appropriate accountability, oversight and transparency.
  • The DON implementation plan will include a series of pilot programs to exercise these authorities and inform policy development.
  • PEOs with pilot program candidates will work with their product DASN to be evaluated for acceleration as a pilot program.
  • I am directing SYSCOMs and PEOs to assess their organizations’ contracting, technical, legal, and financial processes to facilitate the acceleration of programs when appropriate.
Air Force
  • Implementation of this guidance is highly encouraged as standard Air Force acquisition practice for all programs unless otherwise deemed unsuitable.
  • [804 Programs] are not funding limited, not classified as a MDAPs, not overseen by JCIDS, and not governed by the DoD 5000 series.
  • By consolidating decision authority within the Air Force, Section 804 provides great potential for accelerating acquisition timelines beyond historical norms.
  • Given the increasingly dangerous and complex challenges the Air Force faces, our solution cycle must be faster than any opponents’.
  • The PM and MDA should tailor rapid acquisition activities to the strategies, reviews, metrics, and operating thresholds that make sense for the program in question.
  • The following are encouraged for rapid acquisition activities when they apply:
    • Requesting waivers to statutory requirements that the program manager deems of little value through appropriate authorities and channels
    • Deviations from FAR and FAR supplements, approved at the lowest decision level allowable
    • Tailored Air Force reviews, processes, and assessments that are necessary for achieving cost, schedule, and performance goals and statutory compliance
    • Tailored documentation to meet the intent of statutory requirements
    • Tailored metrics to track progress in lieu of cumbersome oversight reviews.
  • Upon successful operational demonstrations addressing validated requirements, rapid prototyping should transition into procurement and fielding via rapid fielding authorities, incorporation in a current acquisition program, or modification of a fielded system.
  • The PM and the MDA should keep key stakeholders—requirements, financial, test and evaluation, and operations—informed throughout rapid acquisition activities to increase execution speed and likelihood of fielding success.
  • Wherever possible, tailored decision reviews should double as opportunities to update stakeholder communities. It takes a team to go fast.

First and foremost, the intent of an MTA is to prototype and/or field required capability on an accelerated schedule at a reduced MTAs are aligned with a high priority military capability need and are characterized by execution against a statutory schedule: rapid prototyping efforts must be complete within five years of an approved requirement, rapid fielding efforts shall begin production within six months and complete fielding within five years of an approved requirement.

Note that there are no dollar thresholds or Acquisition Category (ACAT) thresholds associated with the MTA authority.

Approved MTA efforts are not classified as Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) regardless of dollar value and are not subject to the Joint Capabilities Integration Development System (JCIDS) manual and DoD Directive 5000.01, “The Defense Acquisition System,” or DoD Instruction 5000.02, “Operation of the Defense Acquisition System,” except to the extent specifically provided in the implementing guidance. MTA applies to two distinct pathways:

Rapid Prototyping: shall provide for the use of innovative technologies to rapidly develop prototypes to demonstrate or evaluate new capabilities, operational concepts or meet emerging military needs. The objective of acquisition efforts under the rapid prototyping pathway is to field a prototype that can support these purposes in a real or simulated operational environment and provide for a residual operational capability within five years of the development of an approved

Rapid Fielding: shall provide for the use of proven technologies, to include through Rapid Prototyping, to field production quantities of new or upgraded systems with minimal development required. The objective of acquisition efforts under the rapid fielding pathway is to begin production within six months and complete fielding of an Army Requirements Oversight Council (AROC) defined capability increment within five years of the development of an approved requirement.

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