Does DoD have to establish an ACAT III acquisition program and report as a Program of Record on the AML?
Acquisition categories are established to facilitate decentralized decision making and execution and compliance with statutorily imposed requirements. The categories determine the level of review, decision authority, and applicable procedures. DoDI 5000.02 states that "All defense acquisition programs are designated by an ACAT (i.e., ACAT I through III) and type (e.g., MDAP, MAIS, or Major System)." However, the level of review, decision authority, and applicable procedures for all joint DoD-DOE activities relating to the development, production, sustainment, and retirement of nuclear weapons are deliniated in DoD DIRECTIVE NUMBER 3150.1, 2004, SUBJECT: Joint DoD-DOE Nuclear Weapon Life-Cycle Activities.
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This Directive states that: DoD policies apply that will be tailored and that USD (AT&L) will serve as the MDA. It would appear that assigning an ACAT designation to the program in question would be superfluous as the level of review, decision authority, and applicable procedures are already determined by prior agreement - and in this case would include the review of an MRB and the application of the National Nuclear Security Administration 6.X Process.
Excerpts from DoD DIRECTIVE NUMBER 3150.1
4.1. DoD activities associated with nuclear weapon life-cycle activities conducted jointly with the DOE shall be conducted in accordance with DoD acquisition policies, principles, and procedures (reference (e)), as tailored by this Directive and implementing issuance(s) for joint DoD-DOE nuclear weapons activities.
4.4. Policy, responsibilities, and procedures for joint DoD-DOE nuclear weapon life-cycle activities shall be tailored, combining standard DoD acquisition practices with traditional nuclear weapon development phases.
4.4.2. Consider traditional nuclear weapon development phases (as stated in the Joint AEC-DoD Memorandum of Agreement (reference (b))) and refurbishment phases (as stated in Nuclear Weapon Council Procedural Guidelines
5.1. The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics shall:
5.1.1. Be responsible for meeting validated DoD nuclear weapon requirements through the execution of applicable development, production, sustainment, and retirement activities, consistent with 10 U.S.C. 179 (reference (h)), Nuclear Weapons Council Memorandum of Agreement (reference (i)), and DoD Directive 5134.1 (reference (j)).
5.1.2. Issue a DoD Instruction that supplements this Directive by implementing nuclear weapons development, production, sustainment, and retirement policy, assigning responsibilities, and prescribing procedures in accordance with DoD acquisition policies tailored for joint DoD-DOE nuclear weapon life-cycle activities.
5.1.3. Serve as or designate the MDA for all activities covered by this Directive and, as Chair, act through the Nuclear Weapons Council or its designee as the MRB for all activities covered by this Directive.
5.2. The Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs shall:
5.2.1. Issue guidelines setting the threshold criteria for nuclear weapon program categories, MDAs, and MRBs for nuclear weapons programs.
National Nuclear Security Administration 6.X Process.
The Phase 6.x Process is based on the original Joint Nuclear Weapons Life Cycle Process, which includes Phases 1 through 7 and covers all phases of a weapon’s life from initial feasibility studies and design through development, production, maintenance, deployment, retirement, and dismantlement. These traditional phases were established by the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy who share responsibility for all U.S nuclear weapons.
Since all stockpile weapons are currently in Phase 6, Quantity Production and Stockpile Maintenance and Evaluation, an expanded process is necessary to extend the life of weapons in the stockpile. Therefore, the Phase 6.X process is actually an expanded subset of the Quantity Production and Stockpile phase (Phase 6) of the Joint Nuclear Weapons Life Cycle Process. The Phase 6.X process provides a framework to conduct and manage the life extension activities for existing weapons. It makes the maximum use of the established structure, flow, and practices from the traditional phase process.
For purposes of the Phase 6.X process, the enduring stockpile phase is designated Phase 6.0, and is the beginning and end point of the Phase 6.X process. The individual phases (6.1 through 6.6) follow the sequence of the traditional acquisition process. Each phase ends with a major project decision to go forward into the next phase, to remain in the present phase, or to return to an earlier phase (including a return to Phase 6.0, which is to not modify the weapon).
The 6.X phases are as follows:
Phase 6.0 - Quantity Production and Stockpile Maintenance (note: same name as Phase 6 and indicates presence in the stockpile before and after the life extension project)
Phase 6.1 - Concept Assessment
Phase 6.2 - Feasibility Study and Option Down-select
Phase 6.2A - Design Definition and Cost Study
Phase 6.3 - Development Engineering
Phase 6.4 - Production Engineering
Phase 6.5 - First Production
Phase 6.6 - Full-Scale Production
In the pure sense, the Phase 1-7 process is applicable to the fielding of new weapons whereas the Phase 6.X process is used when life extension activity is planned for a weapon already in the stockpile. Other weapon changes, such as those to improve the capability of an existing weapon, will be assessed by Defense Programs to determine which process (Phase 1-7 or 6.X) will be applied.