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Cost Analysis Requirements Description (CARD)

ABUS 022


A detailed description of the acquisition program that is used to prepare the ICE, POE, CCE, CCP, and other cost estimates, as required. The CARD must be signed by the program executive officer and program manager. The CARD is initially prepared to support the first milestone review after the Materiel Development Decision or the first program decision requiring a cost estimate. The CARD must be prepared and submitted by the PMO in accordance with the guidance issued by DCAPE.

Alternate Definition
The Cost Analysis Requirements Description (CARD) is a description of the salient features of the acquisition program and of the system itself. It is the common description of the technical and programmatic features of the program that is used by the teams preparing the Life Cycle Cost Estimate (LCCE) of the Program Office Estimate (POE), Component Cost Estimate (CCE), and Independent Cost Estimate (ICE).
General Information

Analysts need extensive information about an acquisition program in order to estimate its cost to the detail required by the various display formats identified in the life-cycle cost model. This information is provided in the document known as the Cost Analysis Requirements Description (CARD). The CARD is a complete description of the system at a level of detail appropriate for calculating its costs. It is intended to define the program to a sufficient level of detail such that no confusion exists between the many parties who may be concerned with estimating the program’s cost. A specific format for the CARD is not required by the OSD Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE), however, the CAPE has authority to reject any CARD submission that it deems is not sufficient in detail. DoDI 5000.73 provides guidance regarding CARD preparations and submissions.

The DoD component sponsoring the acquisition program is responsible for preparation of the CARD, in coordination with appropriate IPT members. Generally, a CARD is complex enough that no one skill set in a program office knows enough to develop the CARD correctly. It needs significant input from engineers, logisticians, testers and others in the Program Management Office (PMO). The CARD must be approved by an authority no lower than a Component Program Executive Officer. The CARD should be considered a “living document”, that is updated in preparation for all milestone and program reviews, if not annually. The updates reflect any changes that have occurred, or new data that have become available, since the previous milestone or program review.

A CARD is required whenever the CAPE is involved in the acquisition process. This includes the preparation of

  1. Independent Cost Estimate (ICE) for all Acquisition Category (ACAT) I programs:
    1. Milestone A
    2. Cost Analysis for Development Request for Proposal Release Decision Point (not required by statute)
    3. Milestone B
    4. Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) and/or Milestone C
    5. Full Rate Production (FRP)
    6. Any certification for critical Nunn-McCurdy breaches
    7. Post-Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and include Sustainment Reviews (SRs)
    8. Any other time the DCAPE considers it appropriate for that program
  2. Multiyear Procurement (MYP) Certification.

It is assumed that the program office estimate (POE), DoD Component cost estimate (CCE), DoD Component cost position (CCP), or other cost estimate associated with ACAT I programs would be utilizing a CARD as the foundation for its estimated costs and interactions with the CAPE and its ICE.  As such, a draft version of the CARD for the CAPE is required 180 days prior to the milestone or decision review and the final version is required 45 days prior to the milestone or decision review.   

It should be also noted that a CARD or 'CARD-like' document for any non ACAT I programs is highly encouraged as it facilitates a common understanding of the program estimating baseline.  The CAPE CARD guidance strikes a balance between the need for detailed data for program cost estimating purposes and the workload of program offices managing acquisition programs. The CAPE Card guidance advocates a concise scope narrative section and a range of Commodity-specific CARD Tables (via DD Form 2794) that succinctly describe the key technical, programmatic, and operational characteristics of an acquisition program that can facilitate relatively easy updates, as necessary.