Can an Army program office be officially classified as an ACAT IV? And if so, what is the process for requesting a change in ACAT from III to IV?
The short answer is: probably not.
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Your background statements are correct. Currently, there are only 3 formal DoD ACAT levels. The ACAT IV level is internal to the Department of the Navy (specifically the SECNAV), and is only used by the Navy/Marine Corps because the other services did away with the lower category. The rationale/history for WHY would take longer to provide you, but here are the remaining pertinent data points.
The Army eliminated the 4th level of ACAT with the publication of AR70-1 on 31 Dec 2003. However, the AR states the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology has the authority to approve exceptions (consistent with law and other Army regulations); however, it isn’t clear that authorizing an entirely new Acquisition Category (or re-invention of an old one) is within that preview.
That being said, the process according to AR70-1 is thus: Requests for exception have to be made to the ASA(AT&L) in writing through your PEO and that chain of command. The army has not provided for any acquisition guidance for programs below ACAT III, and your program would have to recommend said guidance – in addition to providing justification.
The Navy’s thresholds (as outlined in SECNAVINST 5000.2D, Ch. 2.4 para 2.4.5) for ACAT IV (for programs that don’t require OT&E) are as follows:
· RDT&E total expenditure > $10 million < $140 million in FY 2000 constant dollars, or
· Procurement expenditure > $25 million/year > $50 million total < $660 million total in FY 2000 constant dollars
For programs below even that, the Navy calls them “Abbreviated Acquisition Programs”.
Some additional considerations: If your PEO is willing to present your case up through the Army chain, a key point your office will want to make is WHY you wish to be designated into a lower ACAT. Your office will want to avoid giving the impression there is something to hide, or that the office is trying to avoid a particular reporting requirement – or trying to reduce the level of oversight. The PMO will want to paint a clear picture of the advantage, and what is to be gained, by making an exception to the AR.