Middle Tier References


Air Force




USD(A&S) Implementation

Ms. Ellen Lord, USD(A&S) published Middle Tier Acquisition Interim Governance 2 memo on 20 Mar 19. As required by law, the rapid fielding pathway shall include a process for considering lifecycle costs and addressing issues of logistics support and system interoperability. Thus sustainment resource and planning must be key considerations of rapid fielding. 

Ms. Ellen Lord, USD(A&S) published an updated interim guidance Middle Tier of Acquisition (Rapid Prototyping/Rapid Fielding) Interim Governance on 9 Oct 18. "The purpose of this interim governance is to ensure that DoD Components execute MTA programs in a manner that allows the OSD and Congress to have confidence in the appropriateness of the Components' use of this authority."

  • Component Acquisition Executives must identify MTA programs and provide meta-data in Defense Acquisition Visibility Environment (DAVE).
  • CAEs will identify new MTA programs by submitting an information memorandum and Program Identification data at least 30 calendar days before the obligation of any funds for an MTA effort.
  • MTA programs do not require OSD approval, however, OSD may determine that specific programs are not appropriate for MTA. In this event, I will direct that the program be executed using traditional acquisition authorities as set forth under DoDI 5000.02.

Ms. Ellen Lord, USD(A&S) published Middle Tier of Acquisition (Rapid Prototyping/Rapid Fielding) Interim Authority and Guidance memo on 16 Apr 2018. It provides the Services 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 encourages 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.


Air Force Implementation

Dr. Will Roper, SAF/AQ signed an AFGM on 13 Jun 18, Air Force Guidance Memorandum for Rapid Acquisition Activities.

I encourage you to make rapid acquisition our new Air Force standard, not an occasionally used exception. Thus far, we have eight rapid acquisition activities approved or in process, with approximately 25 years of potential schedule acceleration.

Rapid prototyping efforts should evaluate the potential of innovative technologies, new capabilities, and/or improved processes to meet existing or emerging capability gaps or create future operational opportunities.

This acquisition approach has up to four tailorable phases depending on the pathway chosen:
Alpha: Prototyping,
Beta: Fielding and Initial Production,
Gamma: Modernization and Follow-on Production,
Delta: Operations and Sustainment.

It is the responsibility of the initiating or assigned PM to propose required program documentation, decision points, metrics, guardrails, as well as timing and scope of decision reviews, and to establish cost, schedule, risk, and performance objectives.

On 10 Aug 18, Dr. Roper signed a memo DoDI 5000.02 and Rapid Acquisition to authorize - and encourage! - program managers to tailor down your 5000.02 program to a "fast path" 804 rapid acquisition program. He is also establishing Golden Scissors Awards for the most creative tailoring in a 5000.02 program.

Dr. Will Roper, SAF/AQ signed a memo on 10 Apr 18, Incorporating Rapid Prototyping into Acquisition

  1. Have an aggressive goal
  2. Bound your risks
  3. Be aggressive but not greedy
  4. Constrain time and budget, not the final performance
  5. It takes a team to go fast
  6. Get a signature from me
  7. GO FAST


In a 22 May 18 email to the Air Force Acquisition workforce, Dr. Roper wrote:


Great news! We now have the ability to delegate the Section 804 rapid prototyping and rapid fielding authorities you have seen in my previous emails and memos. This is now our new normal for acquisition: fast, tailorable, and responsive to our warfighters. The future is happening too fast for the DoD 5000 series; it is time to return the Air Force's rapid prototyping, flying, and then buying roots.

You'll get a formal guidance memo from me this week or next, depending on staff time. I took time on the composition because I want it to be clear and executable on day one, but I also want feedback from you before turning it into formal instruction. Your thoughts and experiences will improve our process. So as we wait on staffing, I want to share a few thoughts in advance so that we can fire out of the starting gates together.

(1) Section 804 is now our new standard. Use it wherever allowed unless it doesn't make sense; it usually will.

(2) Because of (1), we must go over and above to show due diligence. Congress gave us the authority, and we're grateful. Accordingly, I want to maintain uber transparency on 804s, even if the authority would otherwise obviate reporting requirements. For example, I am asking each 804 program manager to submit a tri-yearly 1-2 page report to their next highest milestone decision authority; mine will go to Congress. This will provide Congress even more information than they receive from Selected Acquisition Reports, and inside the Air Force, it will allow MDAs to review and apply best 804 practices across their enterprises. These reports will not take long to compile, but they will show we're taking the trust placed in us seriously. Let's not give future "bureaucraphiles" a case for more oversight.

(3) Keep your current/potential "requirers" with you throughout prototyping. You will need a requirement before you can be approved for rapid fielding; don't wait till the end. Close partnerships with requirers will help you know where to take risk and where to double your efforts. If you don't have the right contacts, ask your MDA. Build out your network of stakeholders early on, and you'll be more likely to succeed.

(4) Throw away pens and carry pencils from now on. Keep probing, questioning, designing, and trading as long as you have time and money. The authorities give you the power of discovery and adaptation: use them! But remember: your budget and schedule are (relatively) fixed. This does not mean you shouldn't be placing smart bets-I want to see smart risk taking and "brilliant learning events" [We must stop saying "failure"!]; they will stop us from creating flawed programs. However, it does means you must make trades and change goals to meet your deadline and budget; we'll then decide whether to field, spiral a subsequent prototype, or stop altogether.

(5) Century Challenge: Keep track of the time you project to save using 804 over traditional acquisition. My challenge to us is removing 100 years of schedule from the Air Force acquisition portfolio. (We are already at 25 years!) I encourage food, festivities, and  teambuilding around the enterprise when we hit this mark; we'll then pick our next target and go further. I'd like each PEO to track both potential and realized schedule acceleration over traditional acquisition plans. (Big cheesy thermometers-maybe speedometers!-that fill towards your local goal are most welcome. Remember everyone contributes to speed: program managers, contracting officers, financial managers, PEMs, action officers, everyone.

Do you part to grease the skids. No one will out build, outpace the U.S. Air Force!

Army Implementation

Dr. Bruce Jette, Army Acquisition Executive, published the ASA(ALT) Middle Tier Acquisition Policy on 20 March 2020.

  • It provides Army PEOs and PMs with the authority and guidance to implement DoDI 5000.80, which was published on 30 Dec 2019.
  • First and foremost, the intent of an MTA is to prototype and/or field required capability on an accelerated schedule at a reduced cost.
  • MTAs are aligned with a high priority military capability need and are characterized by execution against a statutory schedule.
Navy Implementation

Navy SAE, Mr. James Guerts signed a memo Middle Tier Acquisition and Acquisition Agility Guidance on 24 Apr 18 for the Navy implementation of Section 804.

  • The Navy will follow an incremental approach to implementation.
  • We will use these authorities to enable speed and agility, while maintaining appropriate accountability, oversight, and transparency.
  • We will continue to collaborate with OSD to better align policies and regulations and evolve DON policy accordingly
  • The Navy implementation plan will include a series of pilot programs to exercise these authorities and inform policy development.
  • In addition to this guidance, I am directing SYSCOMs and PEOs to assess their organizations' contracting, technical, legal, and financial processes to facilitate the acceleration of programs when appropriate.

The Navy guidance includes a tables for Rapid Prototyping and Rapid Fielding Documentation outlining the key documents required, the elements to address, and the approval authorities for each.

The Navy guidance outlines multiple pathways to initiate a rapid prototype to include

  • Emergent Strategic Needs - not documented through the normal Capability Based Assessment Process nor sufficient funds programmed through the normal DoD PPBE process
  • Emergent Technologies - new warfighting capabilities that have been identified as an offsetting or disruptive warfighting need
  • Documented Needs - Projects that currently have a validated requirement documented via the JROC, JRAC, CNO or CMC Operational Needs process requiring acceleration to meet a warfighting need

ADM Richardson, CNO, signed OPNAVINST 5000.53A, US Navy Maritime Accelerated Acquisition on 19 Oct 18. The purpose is to implement policies to deliver mission critical warfighting capabilities as rapidly as feasible using authorized acquisition processes. The Maritime Accelerated Acquisition (MAA) process provides options for rapidly fielding material solutions to address gaps against fielded or nearly fielded threat capabilities, to provide key enablers in support of the National Defense Strategy, to take advantage of emerging technology developmental opportunities, or to support addressing urgent operational needs, joint urgent operational needs, and joint emergent operational needs.The process consists of four phases:

  1. validation of the requirement and review of candidate material options
  2. acquisition and funding strategy
  3. execution
  4. disposition

See also SECNAVINST 5000.42 for the Navy's policy on Accelerated Acquisition for the Rapid Development, Demonstration, and Fielding of Capability

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