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Control Account (CA)

APMT 020


Alternate Definition

A control account (CA) is the intersection of one Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) element and one Organiztional Breakdown Structure (OBS) element representing a discrete portion of program scope assigned to an individual manager. The control account is the minimum level where technical, schedule, and cost responsibility exists. (It was formerly called Cost Account and some contractors still use this term.)

Alternate Definition Source

DoD Earned Value Management System Interpretation Guide (EVMSIG) (14 Mar 2019)

General Information

The control account (CA) is the genesis of Earned Value Management (EVM). CAs are also called cost accounts in some Earned Value Management System (EVMS) descriptions. All EVM is done at the CA level. It is at this level that work is planned, budgeted, and actual costs are accumulated, and earned value is credited or “earned.


Control account budgets include the budgets for near term work packages and far term planning packages.



From the Total Allocated Budget (TAB), most contractors first set aside a small percentage for Management Reserve (MR) to cover unknown unknowns. The remaining budget becomes the Performance Measurement Baseline (PMR). The PMB consists of three elements. The first element of the PMB is Undistributed Budget (UB). UB is a temporary holding budget that should be allocated as soon as practical to either the second PMB element, the Summary Level Planning Packages (SLPPs), or, the third and final element of the PMB, Control Accounts (CAs). SLPPs are traditionally established for far term work. Early in a contract, it would be unreasonable to expect a detailed control account with work package descriptions and detailed schedules for the manufacture of something that had yet to be designed. A top level budget and schedule is established at the summary level planning package for this purpose. For near term and well defined work, earned value control accounts are established. A CA may have hundreds of work and planning packages. An EVM concept called a rolling wave is often used to move work from summary level planning packages to control accounts and from control account planning packages to control account work packages.