What is the difference between Contractor Logistics Support (CLS), Interim Contractor Support (ICS) and Performance Based Logistics (PBL)?
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These are three separate and distinct terms, and not synonymous. They are defined as:
- Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) — CLS “is broadly defined as contracted weapon system sustainment that occurs over the life of the weapon system. Examples of CLS include contractor provided aircraft and engine overhaul, repair and replenishment of parts, sustaining engineering, and supply chain management." (Source: U.S. House Report 112-110 – 2012 DoD Appropriations Bill "Contractor Logistics Support (CLS)” Section). This House report also defined CLS as "contractor sustainment of a weapon system that is intended to cover the total life cycle of the weapon system and generally includes multiple sustainment elements. CLS does not include interim contractor support, a temporary measure for a system's initial period of operation before a permanent form of support is in place. CLS also excludes contractor sustainment support for a specific sustainment task that the Air Force would otherwise conduct itself; a typical example would be a weapon system's prime contractor providing sustaining engineering." CLS can also be defined as "the performance of maintenance and/or materiel management functions for a DoD system by a commercial activity. Current policy allows for the provision of system support by contractors on a long-term basis. Performance-Based Logistics (PBL) contracts should be used when utilizing CLS. Also called Long-Term Contractor Logistics Support." (Source: DAU Glossary)
- · Interim Contractor Support (ICS) — ICS is “temporary contractor support that allows a Service to defer investment in all or part of required support resources (spares, Technical Data (TD), support equipment, training equipment, etc.), while an organic support capability is phased in.” (Source: DAU Glossary). The Army defines Interim Contractor Support (ICS) as “the use of commercial support resources in lieu of organic capability for a predetermined amount of time (goal is not to exceed 3 years). This includes the use of contractor support for initial fielding.” The glossary itself defines ICS slightly differently as “a method of support used in compressed or accelerated acquisition programs, or when design is not sufficiently stabilized. Provides all or part of a materiel system support by contract for a specified interim period after initial deployment to allow organic support capability to be phased in. A support acquisition technique rather than a support concept.” (Source: Army Regulation 700-127). ICS is similarly defined as “a temporary support method for an initial period of the operation of the system, equipment, or end-item. This strategy is utilized for controlling capital investment costs while design stability is being achieved and complex product support elements are being developed.” (Source: Air Force Instruction 63-101/20-101)
A few key takeaways:
- Performance Based Logistics (PBL) — Performance Based Logistics (PBL) (also known as Performance Based Life Cycle Product Support) is an outcome-based approach…, linked sustainment objectives and resources to system performance, not repair and supply activities; goals and incentives became structured around system performance, not failure; and risk was shifted to the support provider. PBL…delivered higher equipment readiness levels, applied best commercial practices, provided inherent product support integration, and provided a common strategy to bridge the acquisition and sustainment communities.” (Source: Nov 2009 DoD Product Support Assessment). It is similarly defined as “an outcome-based product support strategy that plans and delivers an integrated, affordable performance solution designed to optimize system readiness and affordability.” (Source: DoD Project Proof Point Study Report)
- CLS and ICS are not synonymous. ICS is clearly and by virtue of its name, an interim step or capability prior to implementation of a long-term product support strategy and/or arrangement.
- Each of these terms contribute to this important thing we call product support. CLS, ICS, and PBL, while each separate, distinct, and integral aspects of DoD product support, are each important concepts to understand and to wisely employ when and where appropriate.
- At the end of the day, as the DoD Product Support Manager (PSM) Guidebook states (Para 1.3), “product support strategies can take many forms at many levels, leveraging the capabilities of a variety of product support providers. They can be established and implemented at the system, subsystem, or component level; they can more heavily leverage industry capabilities of the commercial sector, organic government capabilities or an integrated best value mix of commercial and organic sector competencies, capabilities, and expertise.” It’s more about the “what” than the “who” or the “how”; it’s certainly about optimized affordable readiness, achieving the best value outcomes and developing a strategy that leverages an optimal mix of product support integrator(s) and product support provider(s) possessing the best capabilities, expertise, processes and products to affordably meet the program or system requirements.
For additional details, visit https://dap.dau.mil/career/log/blogs/archive/2013/08/07/cls-ics-and-pbl-a-study-in-contrasts.aspx. For a comprehensive quick access list of key product support related terms (including these three) also recommend visiting the DAU Logistics Community of Practice (LOG CoP Product Support Key Definitions site