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    What is the official DoD definition for "Prototype" and for "Pilot" in the context of acquisitions? What is the law, policy, instruction, regulation, etc. from which these definitions are derived?


    The Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering published the Department of Defense Prototyping Guidebook in Nov 2019 available here:,%20v2.0.pdf


    Another reference for the term “prototype” is the DOD Financial Management Regulations (DOD 7000.14-R) Volume 2B, Chapter 4 ( which defines RDT&E Budget Activity 4 as: Advanced Component Development and Prototypes (ACD&P).


    The FM paragraph describes this activity as: “Efforts necessary to evaluate integrated technologies, representative modes, or prototype systems in a high fidelity and realistic operating environment are funded in this budget activity. The ACD&P phase includes system specific efforts that help expedite technology transition from the laboratory to operational use. Emphasis is on proving component and subsystem maturity prior to integration in major and complex systems and may involve risk reduction initiatives. Program elements in this category involve efforts prior to Milestone B and are referred to as advanced component development activities and include technology demonstrations. Completion of Technology Readiness Levels 6 and 7 should be achieved for major programs. Program control is exercised at the program and project level. A logical progression of program phases and development and/or production funding must be evident in the FYDP.”


    In addition, the term prototypes also appears in the FMR descriptions of: BA 2 (Applied Research), BA 3 Advanced Technology Development) and BA 5 System Development and Demonstration.


    It is clear that the terminology in the FMR references the DODI 5000.02, “Operation of the Defense Acquisition System” terminology from several years ago (circa 2005) as the terms have changed related to the phases of the Acquisition Lifecycle over time.  With the publication of the new DODI 5000.02, “Operation of the Adaptive Acquisition Framework” ( the term “Prototyping” now also appears in the Middle Tier of Acquisition Pathway (  “Prototypes” still appears in the milestone-based Major Capability Acquisition Pathway phases of Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction and Engineering and Manufacturing Development (




    There is no Defense Acquisition definition of “Pilot” or “Pilot Program”

    A good place to get a sense of how the term “pilot program” is used it to take a look at the Annual National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs).  Sections 8xx in the NDAA generally address Acquisition related matters. Over the last few years there are many examples of “pilot programs”. Spending some time digesting these sections may give you a good basis for articulating a definition of “pilot” or “pilot program” that is useful for your purposes.


    In the FY16 NDAA (, “pilot programs” 8xx Sections include:

    Sec. 873. Pilot program for streamlining awards for innovative technology projects.

    Sec. 892. Revisions to pilot program on acquisition of military purpose nondevelopmental items.

    Sec. 899. Pilot program regarding risk-based contracting for smaller contract actions under the Truth in Negotiations Act.

    Pilot program references in the FY17 NDAA ( Sections 8xx:

    Sec. 854. Key performance parameter reduction pilot program.

    Sec. 879. Defense pilot program for authority to acquire innovative commercial items, technologies, and services using general solicitation competitive procedures.

    Sec. 880. Pilot programs for authority to acquire innovative commercial items using general solicitation competitive procedures.

    Sec. 883. Pilot program for distribution support and services for weapon systems contractors.

    Sec. 896. Modifications to pilot program for streamlining awards for innovative technology projects.

    Pilot program references in the FY18 NDAA ( Sections 8xx:

    Sec. 827. Pilot program on payment of costs for denied Government Accountability Office bid protests.

    Sec. 854. Pilot program for longer term multiyear service contracts.

    Sec. 873. Pilot program to use agile or iterative development methods to tailor major software-intensive warfighting systems and defense business systems.

    Sec. 874. Software development pilot program using agile best practices.

    Sec. 875. Pilot program for open source software.

    Pilot program references in the FY19 NDAA ( Sections 8xx:

    Sec. 843. Pilot program to test machine-vision technologies to determine the authenticity and security of microelectronic parts in weapon systems.

    Sec. 869. Implementation of pilot program to use agile or iterative development methods required under section 873 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.

    Pilot program references in the FY20 NDAA ( Sections 8xx:

    Sec. 801. Pilot program on intellectual property evaluation for acquisition programs.

    Sec. 802. Pilot program to use alpha contracting teams for complex requirements.

    Sec. 825. Pilot program to accelerate contracting and pricing processes.

    Sec. 831. Pilot program to streamline decision-making processes for weapon systems.

    Sec. 851. Pilot program for development of technology-enhanced capabilities with partnership intermediaries.

    Sec. 884. Pilot program for domestic investment under the SBIR program.

    Pilot program references in the FY21 NDAA ( Sections 8xx:

    Sec. 846. Repeal of pilot program on payment of costs for denied Government Accountability Office bid protests.

    Sec. 872. Extension of pilot program for streamlined awards for innovative technology programs.

    Sec. 884. Pilot program exploring the use of consumption-based solutions to address software-intensive warfighting capability.

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