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Configuration Management (CM)

ALCL 010


A discipline applying technical and administrative direction and surveillance to: (1) identify and document the functional and physical characteristics of a configuration item, (2) control changes to those characteristics, and (3) record and report changes to processing and implementation status.

General Information


Society of Automative Engineers (SAE) Electronics Industries Association (EIA)-649B, Configuration Management Standard, SAE EIA-649B describes CM as a "technical and management process applying appropriate resources, processes, and tools to establish and maintain consistency between the product requirements, the product, and associated product configuration information." Further, CM implements sound practices to establish and maintain consistency of a product's or system's attributes with its requirements and evolving technical baselines, to include the functional baseline, the allocated baseline and the product baseline over its life. It involves interaction among government and contractor program functions such as systems engineering, hardware/software engineering, specialty engineering, product support, contracting, and production in an Integrated Product Team (IPT) environment. The Program Manager (PM) implements CM planning and management actvities to establish and mature the technical baseline throughout the acquisition life cycle.

Transition from Military Standards to Commercial Standards

SAE EIA-649B, has been adopted by the DoD as the industry standard intended for use when establishing, performing, or evaluating CM processes. The standard consolidates content and terminology contained in the SAE GEIA-Handbook (HDBK)-649A, Configuration Management Standard Implementation Guide and MIL-HDBK-61B, Configuration Management Guidance, and provides the principles evoked within SAE EIA-649-1 Configuration Management Requirements for Defense Contracts.

Data Item Descriptions (DID) to support the industry standards were approved on April, 2015 and uploaded into the ASSIST database. The DIDs are identified and hyperlinked within the references section of this article. Additionally, related DoD forms have been approved and posted on the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) DoD Forms Management Program website.

Given the Department's adoption of industry standards, all CM-related military standards have been cancelled. MIL-HDBK-61B is currently in effect; but it is for guidance only and cannot be cited as a requirement. 

CM Implementation

CM is an umbrella activity that crosses multiple functional domains, including but not limited to program management, systems engineering, life cycle logistics, test and evaluation (T&E), and contracting. CM plans are developed to (1) identify change, (2) manage that change, (3) ensure that the change is being properly implemented, (4) report the change to others who may have and interest, and (5) record the change for historical reference. It includes the technical and administrative direction and surveillance actions taken to identify and document the functional and physical characeristics of a configuration item (CI), to control changes to a CI and its characteristics, and to record and report change processing and implementation status. CM also provides a complete audit trail of decisions and design modifications.

DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5000.88, Engineering of Defense Systems, directs that the "The LSE [lead systems engineer], under the direction of the PM, will implement a digital CM approach and automated tools to establish, control, and curate product attributes and technical baselines across the total system life-cycle. The CM approach will:

  1. Identify, document, audit, and control schedule, cost, functional, physical, and performance characteristics of the system design.
  2. Specifically, track any changes (e.g., a dynamic change log for in and out of scope changes, formal engineering change proposals) and provide an audit trail of program design decisions and design modifications.
  3. Provide for traceability of mission capability to system requirements to performance and execution metrics."


In addition, the DoD Product Support Manager (PSM) Guidebook states: "the PSM must address Configuration Management (CM). This CM should manage change by documenting and disseminating changes prior to or as they occur. This will ensure that supply chain managers understand the material they are responsible for and which material will no longer apply to their system." The PSM Guidebook goes on to discuss how the PSM should ensure a CM process that includes surveillance of the combined and systematic application of the CM  sub-processes. The CM sub-processes called out in SAE-EIA-649B are as follows:

  • Configuration Planning and Management - delineates the specific CM application methods and their levels of emphasis in the contest and environment of the product to which the CM process is applied; identifies and applies resources and assigns responsibilities to perform CM activities; provides management of supplier configuration management program activities
  • Configuration Identification - the basis from which the configuration of products are defined and verified; products and their product configuration information are labeled; changes are managed; and traceability is maintained throughout the product's life cycle
  • Configuration Change Management - changes to a product are accomplished using a systematic, measureable change process
  • Configuration Status Accounting - provides an accurate, timely information base concerning a product and its product configuration information throughout the product life cycle
  • Configuration Verification and Audit - verifies a product's compliance with the physical, functional and interface requirements in approved product definition information confirms the bais for managing product configuration

The PSM Guidebook goes on to state that CM "is a process for establishing and maintaining the consistency of a product's physical and functional attributes with its design and operational information throughout its life.

Configuration management and control are important factors to consider when designing the Performance Based Logistics (PBL) strategy. In order to create the appropriate support environment and to be responsive to evolving technology and changing Warfighter capabilities, the organizations assigned the responsibility for delivering the weapons system capability must have the appropriate level of CM and control. Integral to successful CM is the development of a CM plan. PMs establish and maintain a configuration control program.

The PSM and program life cycle logisticians are a key participant in the CM process. The approach and activity that have responsibility for maintaining configuration control will depend on a number of program-specific factors, such as design rights, design responsibility, support concept, and associated costs and risk. The Government maintains nominal configuration control of the system performance specification, and the contractor(s) perform CM for the design. The Government retains the authority/responsibility for approving any design changes that impact the system's ability to meet specification requirements. The contractor(s) have the authority/responsibility to manage other design changes. The Government maintains the right to access configuration data at any level required to implement planned or potential design changes and support options. Configuration Management of legacy systems should be addressed on a case-by-case basis as design changes are contemplated."