DOD releases acquisition revisions

DOD Directive 5000.1 and DOD Instruction 5000.2

The Defense Department today released its new acquisition policy, which brings mission need and technology opportunities into account and allows "acquisition decision-makers" greater authority to tailor program strategies.

The policy is part of the department's buying regulations known as the DOD Directive 5000 series.

The acquisition policy is captured in two directives:

* DOD Directive 5000.1, the Defense Acquisition System, which describes overarching acquisition policy.

* DOD Instruction 5000.2, the Operation of the Defense Acquisition System, which establishes the framework for translating mission needs and requirements into "stable, affordable and well-managed programs."

"The Defense Acquisition System exists to manage the nation's investments in technologies, programs, and product support necessary to achieve the national security strategy and support the United States armed forces," Directive 5000.1 states. "The investment strategy of the Department of Defense shall be postured to support not only today's force, but also the next force and future forces beyond that."

DOD has made several adjustments to the 5000 series over the past several years, including one as recently as April and another last September. Each change is intended to further streamline the acquisition process, but some have been more effective than others.

Some changes allowed for greater flexibility in buying big-ticket items, while others expanded the ability of program managers and what DOD calls milestone decision authorities to make purchasing decisions.

Milestone decision authorities have overall responsibility for a program, while program managers report to the milestone authorities and are responsible for accomplishing specific program objectives.

The new directives call for the milestone authorities and program managers to take into account five criteria when making acquisition decisions: flexibility, innovation, responsiveness, discipline and streamlined management.

"There is no one best way to structure an acquisition program to accomplish the objective of the Defense Acquisition System," the directive read. "[Milestone decision authorities and program managers] shall tailor program strategies and oversight — including documentation of program information, acquisition phases, the timing and scope of decision reviews, and decision levels — to fit the particular conditions of that program, consistent with applicable laws and regulations and the time-sensitivity of the capability need."

The Defense Department is expected to soon unveil its new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction 3170 Requirements Generation System, which will outline updated guidelines for making materiel acquisitions to ensure that the concept of "joint forces" is kept in mind from the beginning of the acquisition process.

Combined with the new 5000 Series, the directives will have a significant impact how purchases are made, according to Army Col. James Shufelt, head of the Combat Identification Assessment Division for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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