A basic understanding of the Department of Defense (DoD)
acquisition system begins with the following overview:
The DoD acquisition system exists
to secure and sustain the nation's investments in technologies, programs,
and product support necessary to achieve the National Security Strategy and
support the United States Armed Forces. The Department's investment strategy
must be postured to support not only today's force, but also the next force,
and future forces beyond that. The primary objective of Defense acquisition
is to acquire quality products that satisfy user needs with measurable
improvements to mission accomplishment and operational support, in a timely
manner, and at a fair and reasonable price. (DoD Directive 5000.1)
Acquisition includes design, engineering, test and evaluation, production, and operations and support of Defense systems. As used herein, the term "Defense acquisition" generally applies only to weapons and information technology systems processes, procedures, and end products. The word procurement, which is the act of buying goods and services for the Government, is often (and mistakenly) considered synonymous with acquisition; it is instead but one of the many functions performed as part of the acquisition process. For example, non-weapon and non-information technology items required by the DoD, such as passenger vehicles, office supplies, and waste removal are "procured," but are not subject to the full range of functions inherent in the acquisition process of weapons and information technology systems, and thus are not described in this pamphlet.
Acquisition Programs are directed and funded efforts designed to provide a new, improved, or continuing materiel1, weapon or information system capability or service in response to a validated operational or business need.
A weapon system is an item that can be used directly by the armed forces to carry out combat missions.
Information Technology systems include both National Security Systems and Automated Information Systems. National security systems are used for intelligence and cryptologic activities and command and control of military forces, or are integral to a weapons system, or critical to the direct fulfillment of a military or intelligence mission. Automated information systems are usually associated with the performance of routine administrative and business tasks such as payroll and accounting functions.
Management includes a set of tasks required to accomplish a specified project. One way of looking at systems acquisition management is by looking at individual elements that comprise each of these terms as noted below:
- Logistics Support
- Design and develop system
- Improve or replace
- Dispose of
The program manager is the individual within the DoD chartered to manage an acquisition program. The program manager has no other command or staff responsibilities. Chapter 2 provides more insight on program management in Defense acquisition.
1Materiel is a generic word for equipment. It is inherently plural. It is distinguished from material which is of what things are made. Material can be singular or plural. For example, aircraft are materiel; the materials aircraft are made out of include aluminum, steel and glass. Materiel acquisition in the Department of Defense is the acquiring of weapons and other military equipment.