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    What is the difference between PDR and CDR? What is a company authorized to do after Government approval of the PDR What is company authorized to do after Government approval of the CDR


    The Critical Design review (CDR) and the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) are two of the most important reviews in the acquisition process.  Information on these reviews can be found in the Defense Acquisition Guidebook Chapter 3-3.3.4 ( or DODI 5000.02 Enclosure 3, section E3-7 entitled Technical reviews.
    Preliminary Design Review (PDR):
    PDR is conducted towards the end of the Technical Maturity and Risk Reduction phase and the primary purpose of this review is to provide a technical bases for a Milestone B investment decision and the Acquisition Program Baseline (APB).  PDR ensures that new technologies were demonstrated in a relevant environment and that these technologies can be integrated into the system at an acceptable level of risk.  PDR also ensures that the preliminary design satisfies the operational and suitability requirements of the system performance specification.  Finally, PDR confirms that the preliminary design captures all internal and external System of System interdependencies.
    A successful PDR also means that the PM can take control of the allocated baseline (all system-level functional and interface requirements have been decomposed and allocated to the lowest level of the specification tree for all system elements (i.e., configuration item level)).  And that, 50% of the technical drawings are completed. 
    Critical Design Review (CDR).
    CDR generally occurs at the midway point in the EMD phase.  “CDR provides the acquisition community with evidence that the system, down to the lowest system element level, has a reasonable expectation of satisfying the requirements of the system performance specification as derived from the Capability Development Document (CDD) within current cost and schedule constraints.”  CDR confirms the system design is stable and is expected to meet system performance requirements and is on track to achieve affordability and should-cost goals as evidenced by the detailed design documentation and establishes the initial product baseline.
    CDR is based on technical analysis and any prototype testing/demonstration efforts conducted at the system element and/or system level.  Demonstration of a complete system is not expected to be accomplished by CDR.
    A successful CDR will establish the initial product baseline for the system to include enabling system elements such as support equipment, training system, maintenance, and data systems. At this point the system has reached the necessary level of maturity to start fabricating, integrating, and testing pre-production articles with acceptable risk.  At CDR it is expected that 100% of the design drawings are completed but, in practice, this is rarely the case for large complex ACAT programs, and drawing completion can be around 95% with a plan to quickly complete the remaining drawings.
    After PDR and CDR?
    The contract is the driving directive for contractors.  In general, the goal prior to CDR is to produce a design that will meet all the requirements of the system performance specifications document using technical analysis and sub-system prototypes to help reduce risk.  After CDR, the goal is to “bend metal” and build a complete system that is production representative!

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