We would also like to make these purchased to avoid a changes to the approved configuration that need to be certified. Is there a way to make purchases of procurement items during EMD?
First, I want to ensure that I understand your question’s background correctly. You are part of an AF program that has multiple increments (one increment has been fielded) and another increment is currently under development in the EMD phase. Your program is primarily comprised of COTS items. Some of the certified COTS items required by your system will soon be unavailable from industry sources. The loss of these COTS items will result in a configuration change and that will require the new system configuration to be certified. The certification process is run by the FAA (who is also the user of the fielded system) and this is a lengthy costly process. Your program wishes to avoid having to go through this for the increment that is under development. Your program believes they can avoid this by buying the COTS products that have reached end of life with procurement funds. Also, these COTS products aren’t classified as long lead items in your acquisition strategy. The FAA will be making a life time buy (buying out the remaining supply). The FAA’s plan for the life time buy of the COTS items is to support the fielded system (supplying spares) and provide the AF a source of supply for the increment under development (temporary test assets) until the new system configuration can be determined by the AF and then certified.
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Let’s assume my understanding is correct. Your program stakeholders (FAA & the AF) would expect a stable long term affordable solution. For the fielded increment of your system, the mission need and the lack of viable sources can be a reason to justify a life time buy and an exception to the bona fide need rule. Based on this, Procurement funds would be used to purchase these assets.
However, for the increment under development, your acquisition strategy should have addressed market research and discussed the downside/risks associated with using COTS. If we are buying funds to support EMD, the proper appropriation should be RDT&E. Further, per the DoDI 5000.02, one of the purposes of EMD would be to support a production decision and to retire any open risks. If you are using obsolete and unavailable materials like the COTS items you mentioned for the increment under development, it would be difficult for your EMD program to say they have adequately addressed production risk and even met DoD’s definition of a stable design. Also it would be hard to justify the use of these COTS items in your Life Cycle Support Plan given the known out of service date. Advise you immediately address this concern with you lead logistician, stakeholders, and eventually the MDA.