All acquisition programs, regardless of acquisition category (ACAT), must accomplish certain key activities. These activities generate information that structures and defines the program, and facilitates planning and control by the program manager and oversight by a milestone decision authority. The information generated by key activities may be contained in stand-alone documents, or may be structured in accordance with the desires of the milestone decision authority. Most of this information/documentation is carefully constructed by the program manager using integrated product teams.
Key activities include requirements determination, selection of a preferred alternative, cost estimating, formulation of an strategy acquisition and program structure, contract planning and management, budget execution, formulation of an acquisition program baseline, test planning, interoperability planning, the proposal of exit criteria to the milestone decision authority, and technical management.
A brief description of each key activity folows:
Requirements determination. The program must
address the mis-sion need documented in the MNS, and meet the system peculiar
performance documented in the ORD (see Chapter 6 ).
Selection of a preferred alternative. Alternatives which could potentially meet the mission need are analyzed as
part of the cost as an independent variable (CAIV) process (see Chapter 2 ) for establishing requirements in the context of cost-performance trades. For an ACAT I program this process can be quite formal, requiring significant time, effort and dollars. The analysis supporting a preferred alternative is usually contained in a study called an Analysis of Alternatives, but the detail and formality of this study is at the discretion of the milestone decision authority.
Cost estimating. In addition to the cost
performance trades accomplished by the CAIV process, detailed life cycle cost
estimating must be accomplished to support inputs into the Program Objectives
Memorandum (see Chapter
8 ), and the budget. Cost estimating is done at the program level (called the Program Office Estimate), the Component headquarters level (called a Component Cost Analysis), and at the Defense staff level (called an Independent Cost Estimate), as appropriate to the
ACAT of the program. (See Chapter 4 .) Additionally, cost estimating supports affordability assessments which determine whether a Component can "fit" a program within its projected budget authority (over time) given all of the Component's other commitments.
Preparation of an acquisition strategy and program structure. The Acquisition Strategy, developed by the program manager and approved by the milestone decision authority, is a comprehen-sive, overarching master plan which details how the program's goals and objectives will be met, and serves as a "roadmap" for program execution from program initiation through post-production support. It describes the key elements of the program (e.g., requirements, resources, testing, contracting approach, and open systems design) and their interrelationship, and evolves over time becoming increasingly definitive as the program matures. Acquisition strategies are tailored to the specific needs of an individual program. Program struc-ture charts are schedules that graphically depict the time phasing of key events in the acquisition strategy, like milestones, testing, and others.
Contract planning and management. Contracting for goods and services is fundamental since the functions inherent in systems acquisition such as analysis, design, development, test, production, sustainment, modification and disposal of systems are accomplished through contracts with private industry. Typical activities include preparing an Acquisition Plan (a description of contracting strategy for the program with emphasis on the types and numbers of contracts to be awarded in an upcoming phase), preparing the Request for Proposal (a document which describes the task(s) or service(s) that the government wants industry to propose against), conducting a source selection (a process to select the winning contractor(s)), and performing contractor surveillance and monitoring contract performance.
Budget execution. Resources must be budgeted and obtained to execute contracts with industry. This includes formulating input for the Program Objectives Memorandum (a spend plan covering a 5 or 6 year period), the budget, and other programmatic or financial documentation in support of the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System. Funds are "obligated" upon the signing of a contact; funds are "outlayed" as the government makes actual payment in accordance with the contract for goods and services rendered.
Preparation of an Acquisition Program Baseline (APB). The baseline contains the most important cost, schedule
and performance parameters, described in terms of threshold and objective
values. A threshold value is a required value while an objective value is a
desired value. Schedule parameters include key schedule events, such as
milestone reviews, initiation of key testing, and the start of production. APB
performance parameters are the Key Performance Parameters specified in the ORD
(see Chapter 6 ). Thus, the APB is a convenient summary of the most important aspects of a program (cost, schedule and performance), and provides a useful tool for management to assess how well a program is progressing towards its stated objectives. The APB is developed by the program manager and approved by the chain of authority up to the milestone decision authority. For example, the APB for an ACAT ID program will be approved by its Program Executive Officer, the Component Acquisition Executive and Defense Acquisition Executive.
Test planning. Test planning is central to the formulation of a coherent acquisition strategy. There is a variety of testing that must be planned and accomplished either to confirm program progress, or to conform to statutory dictate. After all, it is by testing that we validate the performance requirements identified in the ORD by the user and promised in the acquisition program baseline by the program manager. Testing includes developmental test and evaluation, operational test and evaluation, and live fire test and evaluation, as appropriate. The program manager's Test and Evaluation Master Plan documents the overall structure and objectives of the test and evaluation program. It provides a framework to generate detailed test and evalua-tion plans for a particular test, and contains resource and schedule implications for the test and evaluation program.
Interoperability planning. Interoperability within and across the military services and partners in coalition warfare is a essential for successful combat operations. To facilitate planning and ensure interoperability policy is being considered and addressed, a Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence Support Plan (C4ISP) is required for all weapon systems/programs that interface with command, communication, control, computer and intelligence systems. The C4ISP includes system description, employment concept, operational support requirements, and interoperability and connectivity requirements. It also contains an evaluation of the intelligence support for targeting requirements required by the program.
Formulation of exit criteria. Milestone decision authorities use exit criteria to establish goals for an acquisition program during a particular phase. At each milestone review, the program manager proposes exit criteria appropriate to the next phase of the program for approval by the milestone decision authority. Exit criteria are phase specific tasks selected to track progress in important technical, sched-ule or risk management areas. They act as "gates," which when successfully passed, demonstrate that the program is on track to achieve its final goals. Examples of appropriate exit criteria are achieving a level of performance (e.g., engine thrust, or missile range), or successful accomplishment of a task (e.g., first flight). Exit criteria are documented in the Acquisition Decision Memorandum issued by the milestone decision authority upon completion of a milestone review.
Technical management. This is a broad term
including the management of a totally integrated effort of system engineering,
test and evaluation, production, and logistics support over the system life
cycle. Its goal is timely deployment of an effective system, sustaining it,
and satisfying the need at an affordable cost. Technical management involves
balancing a system's cost, schedule, and performance. Cost includes all funds
required to design, develop, produce, operate, support, and dispose of a
system. Schedule includes the time it takes to design, develop, produce, and
deploy a fully supported system. Performance is the degree to which a system
can be expected to perform its mission in combat. Technical management
includes defining the system, conducting design engineering, performing
systems engineering (system cost, schedule, and performance trade-offs),
developing/acquiring computer resources (including software), planning for
logistics support, identifying and tracking reliability, availability, and
maintainability requirements, transitioning from development to production,
configuration management, ensuring producibility of the final design, defining
manufacturing processes and controls, and planning for disposal at the end of