Six Acquisition Pathways for Giant-Scale, Advanced Techniques


In software program acquisition as in software program structure, one measurement doesn’t match all. Advanced mixed-criticality techniques require a versatile government-acquisition system for approval, oversight, and funding. Our earlier weblog publish described how technical reference frameworks (TRFs) present versatile computing and infrastructure environments by way of modular elements that align a sample of temporal must scale with the processing wants for reusable area architectures. TRFs handle the total vary of navy capabilities, juxtaposing the boundaries of criticality and scale. On this publish we present how one can map TRFs to the totally different pathways that compose the DoD’s Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF).

Acquisition Flexibility

Advanced architectures of architectures comprising capabilities of combined criticality require a mixing of various TRFs. As proven in Determine 1, a single, unified acquisition technique that may additionally apply a unified technical structure for such a system of techniques (referred to henceforth extra compactly as “techniques”) would set up synthetic processes and limits for growing, securing, working, and bettering these techniques.


Determine 1: Coexisting Techniques at Completely different Time Scales in a System of Techniques

Simply as TRFs are tuned and optimized for the totally different scales wherein these techniques function, the methods and practices for buying these techniques should be equally tuned and optimized. In response to this want, the DoD launched the Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF) to instantiate flexibility and agility as foundational parts for product improvement and lifecycle administration throughout all acquisition applications. The AAF may be pursued successfully by enveloping the DoD Digital Engineering Technique, thereby placing the precise instruments into the precise locations for the product being pursued. This strategy additional helps the acquisition neighborhood handle distinctive functionality wants and threat profiles whereas encouraging customization.

To restrict complexity and reduce threat, program government officers and program managers historically apply an acquisition technique that self-limits the out there choices. These acquisition practices ignore the cadence, necessities, and threat profile that uniquely characterize the sorts of elements or subsystems being created, and as an alternative apply a typical schedule-driven cadence and main-event-like obligatory programmatic opinions in applications that want a unique strategy. Techniques for coping with technical complexity and future supply wants of innovation may be launched over time, however at an acceptable tempo for the goal expertise, program necessities, schedule, and funds.

The TRFs utilized in mixed-criticality techniques ought to subsequently be structured to deal with layering-on these downstream options and deploying them in risk-prudent strategies which might be aware of the warfighter wants whereas addressing acceptable security/safety considerations. Happily, the AAF permits applications to compose the strategy in ways in which finest match the expertise and use case of the totally different elements of the acquisition in essentially the most environment friendly method. It affords appreciable flexibility to resolution authorities and applications concerning acquisition technique, governance devices, and general execution of this system.

Particularly, DoDI 5000.02, Part 3.1 costs resolution authorities with

  • tailoring of program methods and oversight
  • timing and scope of resolution opinions
  • phasing of functionality content material over time
  • pathway choice and adaptation (see Determine 4 under)

By means of this acquisition reform, DoD empowers the professionals doing the work with engineering the constructs, governance, and processes that allow profitable achievement of program aims. Recognizing that necessities and threat profiles are distinctive to every program and subsequently require totally different acquisition methods for one main functionality acquisition (MCA), the DoD created six pathways, proven in Determine 2 under, geared toward streamlining and decreasing the chance related to the acquisition of IT techniques, merchandise, and companies.


The flexibleness and steering supplied by DoD 5000.02 gives choices to discover a number of pathways to match the acquisition technique to program wants. It permits acquirers to offer tailor-made help for this system’s distinctive traits and threat profile.

Of the six pathways, each the Software program Acquisition and Protection Enterprise Techniques pathways current alternatives to discover the applying of TRFs. Software program techniques, together with both weapon or enterprise techniques, want to make use of TRFs acceptable to the technical area being addressed. These selections make it attainable for this system to realize its aims by leveraging environments that may be utilized to their wants, as an alternative of making their very own surroundings(s) every time.

Software program Acquisition Pathway

Of specific curiosity, the Software program Acquisition pathway, enlarged in Determine 3 under, permits a program workplace to outline an acquisition technique that leverages present software-delivery frameworks and introduces flexibility into planning and execution. This pathway encourages software-development practices, akin to Agile, DevOps, DevSecOps, and Lean, and provides a program the agility to discover cutting-edge improvement methods and applied sciences. By means of the iterative nature of the pathway, disclosure on the traits of the design will get to stakeholders early and infrequently. Stakeholders and distributors talk all through design and improvement with the federal government, offering enter and gaining clarification as acceptable.


Briefly, the Software program Acquisition pathway

  • permits steady integration and supply of software program functionality on timelines acceptable to the battle­fighter and finish person, or mission requirement
  • is the popular path for acquisition and improvement of software-intensive techniques
  • establishes business-decision artifacts to handle threat and allow profitable software program acquisition and improvement

The Software program Acquisition pathway is suitable for military-unique capabilities, akin to real-time command-and-control performance, the place the design is targeted on custom-built or extremely personalized software program. Using TRFs 1 and a couple of could also be effectively fitted to these techniques.

Nevertheless, the Software program Acquisition pathway is probably going not acceptable for purchasing enterprise techniques which might be made up largely of business off-the-shelf (COTS) merchandise with some minor alterations or code-only enhancements (extra on this later).

Extra Pathways for Consideration

Pressing Functionality Acquisition

The Pressing Functionality Acquisition pathway, enlarged in Determine 4 under, is reserved for capabilities required to avoid wasting lives or confirm mission accomplishment. This pathway employs a Lean acquisition course of that fields capabilities fulfilling pressing present or rising operational wants or fast reactions in lower than two years.

Various sorts of merchandise may be fielded as an pressing functionality. It’s subsequently exhausting to say using a selected TRF for the sort of acquisition, although TRFs 1 and a couple of could also be appropriate. One benefit of utilizing these frameworks in speedy functionality acquisition is that the hassle to determine and handle the event and deployment surroundings may be leveraged throughout many applications, releasing assets to give attention to the uniquely wanted navy functionality. It might probably additionally assist scale the productionization of an pressing functionality if its utility is confirmed particularly precious within the warfighting area.


Center Tier of Acquisition

The Center Tier of Acquisition (MTA) pathway, enlarged in Determine 5 under, is used to quickly develop fieldable prototypes inside an acquisition program to show new capabilities or quickly discipline manufacturing portions of techniques with confirmed applied sciences that require minimal improvement. The MTA pathway is meant to fill a niche within the protection acquisition system for these capabilities with a stage of maturity that permits speedy prototyping inside an acquisition program or fielded inside 5 years of the MTA program begin. The MTA pathway can be utilized to speed up functionality maturation earlier than transitioning to a different acquisition pathway or to minimally develop a functionality earlier than quickly fielding.


The rapid-prototyping path offers for using modern applied sciences and new capabilities to quickly develop fieldable prototypes to show new capabilities and meet rising navy wants. The aims of an acquisition program below this path contain fielding a prototype that was efficiently demonstrated in an operational surroundings and to offer a residual operational functionality inside 5 years of this system begin date. Digital-prototyping fashions are acceptable in the event that they yield a fieldable residual operational functionality. MTA applications will not be deliberate to exceed 5 years to completion and, in execution, is not going to exceed 5 years after MTA program begin with out a protection acquisition government (DAE) waiver.

The rapid-fielding path offers for using present merchandise and confirmed applied sciences to discipline manufacturing portions of recent or upgraded techniques with minimal improvement required. The target of an acquisition program below this path is to start manufacturing inside six months and full fielding inside 5 years of the MTA program begin date. The manufacturing begin date of the MTA program is not going to exceed six months after the MTA program begin date with out a DAE waiver.

Comparable advantages to using TRFs 1 and a couple of within the improvement of pressing capabilities apply to the acquisition of middle-tier capabilities. This acquisition is especially precious provided that middle-tier merchandise are sometimes productized in a number of portions, fielded for longer durations, and topic to evolving calls for for functionality that may very well be delivered with software program upgrades. TRFs 1 and a couple of are notably appropriate for this surroundings.

Protection Enterprise Techniques Pathway


Determine 6 exhibits the pathway and the cyclical Enterprise Functionality Acquisition Cycle. The authority to proceed (ATP) gates compartmentalize the phases, and the method reduces a lot of the paperwork required in DoDI 5000.02. Particulars concerning the execution of the pathway may be discovered at The pathway will depend on steady course of enchancment and may very well be leveraged as a streamlined path for buying elements which might be commercially out there.

Acquisition of Providers

This pathway, enlarged in Determine 7 under, is meant to establish the required companies, analysis the potential contractors, contract for the companies, and handle efficiency. The pathway actions are damaged into three phases: plan, develop, and execute. This pathway is described within the DoD Handbook for the Coaching and Growth of the Providers Acquisition Workforce.


Main Functionality Acquisition

A Main Functionality Acquisition (MCA) pathway acquires and modernizes military-unique applications that present enduring functionality. It’s exhausting to conceive of any MCA that may not be software-reliant. Ought to that be the case, a blended strategy to the authorities of the assorted acquisition pathways would match the most effective framework to the enterprise wants of this system akin to proven in Determine 8. Matching business incentives and enterprise fashions may be tuned to the kind of exercise, assets, and cadence of motion. Total execution threat can be lowered by combining these insurance policies in a coordinated trend.


Determine 8: Main Functionality Acquisition as a Composition of Acquisition Frameworks

As beforehand described, there’s a correlation between acquisition pathways and TRFs. Determine 9 presents a mapping of how these may very well be utilized. Main capabilities would, in lots of circumstances, be tied to a selected navy platform (sea-going, land-based, flight car, spacecraft, and many others.). These automobiles would require real-time management techniques for which TFR 1 is finest suited. As well as, the platform-level integration of techniques and subsystems may be derived from cross-platform product traces. The appliance of these merchandise into new main capabilities would supply the propelling have to transition into TRFs to cut back execution and integration threat for the general enterprise. These military-unique capabilities developed below the Center Tier or Software program Acquisition pathways may very well be constructed on TRFs 1, 2, and three.

Establishing improvement and deployment environments for functionality, in addition to the modeling and services used to help improvement testing, operational testing, and lifecycle help companies may very well be acquired below a mix of the Acquisition of Providers and Protection Enterprise Techniques pathways. These capabilities would probably be finest fitted to using TRF 3.


Determine 9: Correlation of TRFs and an MCA

On this publish, now we have proven that DoD acquisition applications not should go it alone and settle for the burden of unbounded technical threat on the subject of constructing their mission techniques, or the help companies that they’d rely on. What we prescribe right here is effectively inside the realm of technical achievement as we speak. The most important problem is to wrangle the construction of the acquisition surroundings, the funding fashions, and the cultural incentives.

Future Evolution of TRFs for Blended-Criticality Techniques

Because the idea of TRFs positive aspects traction and extra techniques are compelled to observe go well with, the strategies of integration, improvement testing, and operational testing must evolve as effectively. As well as, the strategies of managing interoperability must evolve to deal with constantly evolving functionality within the discipline, delivered on totally different time horizons, and to handle shifting interoperability/evolving performance over a lifecycle of many years.