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Life Cycle Management (LCM)

ALCL 065


The implementation, management, and oversight, by the Program Manager (PM), of all activities associated with the acquisition, development, production, fielding, sustainment, and disposal of a DoD system.

Alternate Definition

LCM is called out in many sources which expand and/or clarify the details provided above. Expanded definitions include: 

  1. LCM, also known as Total Life Cycle System Management (TLCSM), "is the implementation, management, and oversight by the program manager of all activities associated with the acquisition, development, production, fielding, sustaining, and disposal of a DoD system." In addition, the tenets of LCM "emphasize sustainment planning early in the capability solution's life cycle, to include requirement generation activities."
  2. "LCM is...the implementation, management, and oversight, by the designated PM, of all activities associated with the acquisition (such as development, production, fielding, sustainment, and disposal) of a DoD weapon system across its life cycle." 
  3. "The PM shall be the single point of accountability for accomplishment of program objectives for total life cycle systems management, including sustainment… PMs shall consider supportability, life cycle costs, performance, and schedule comparable in making program decisions. Planning for Operation and Support and the estimation of total ownership costs shall begin as early as possible. Supportability, a key component of performance, shall be considered throughout the system life cycle." 
  4. "The Secretary of Defense shall issue and maintain comprehensive guidance on life-cycle management and the development and implementation of product support strategies for major weapon systems. The guidance issued pursuant to this subsection shall - (1) maximize competition and make the best possible use of available Department of Defense and industry resources at the system, subsystem, and component levels; and (2) maximize value to the Department of Defense by providing the best possible product support outcomes at the lowest operations and support cost."
  5. "The term "product support" means the package of support functions required to field and maintain the readiness and operational capability of major weapon systems, subsystems, and components, including all functions related to weapon system readiness."
  6. "Establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for product support management to establish product support factors early in the requirements development and acquisition process to achieve effective and efficient weapon system capability and life cycle management. Prescribes procedures for program managers (PMs), product support managers (PSMs), and life cycle logisticians (LCLs) to implement the adaptive acquisition framework (AAF) tenets to:
    •  Emphasize sustainment.
    •  Make data driven decisions.
    • Tailor product support."
Alternate Definition Source
  1. Manual for the Operation of the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS), Appendix D to Enclosure D, Para 2
  2. DoD Product Support Manager (PSM) Guidebook, Para 1.2
  3. DoD Directive (DoDD) 5000.01, The Defense Acquisition System, Para E1.29
  4. Title 10 USC 4324, Life-Cycle Management and Product Support
  5. Title 10 USC 4324, Life-Cycle Management and Product Support
  6. DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5000.91, Product Support Management for the Adaptive Acquisition Framework
General Information

Narrative information from these and other pertinent references includes the following:

Perhaps the single most important statement on this subject comes from paragraph 2 of Appendix D to Enclosure D of the JCIDS Manual: “The tenets of life cycle management emphasize sustainment planning early in the capability solution’s life cycle, to include requirement generation activities.”  In addition, the DoD PSM Guidebook  clarifies that under "LCM, the PM, with support from the PSM for sustainment activities, is responsible for the development and documentation of an acquisition strategy to guide program execution from program initiation through re-procurement of systems, subsystems, components, spares, and services beyond the initial production contract award, during post-production support, and through retirement or disposal." 

The PSM Guidebook also states that the tenets of LCM "emphasize an early focus on sustainment within the system life cycle'" and that LCM "is the implementation, management, and oversight, by the designated Program Manager (PM), of all activities associated with the acquisition, development, production, fielding, sustainment, and disposal of a DoD system across its life cycle. It empowers the PM as the life cycle manager with full accountability and responsibility for system acquisition and follow-on sustainment." LCM "concepts are now policy and have been initiated to provide more effective, affordable, operationally ready systems through increased reliability, supportability, and maintainability. The PM is also responsible for ensuring, throughout the system life cycle, that the sustainment strategy is both regularly assessed and in full compliance with applicable statutory requirements."

Further, the PSM Guidebook states that "PMs pursue two primary support objectives. First, the weapon system must be designed to be supportable and reduce the demand for product support. Second, product support must be effective and efficient. The resources required to provide product support must be minimized while meeting Warfighter requirements. When developing and implementing a product support strategy, the goal is to balance and integrate the support activities necessary to meet these two objectives. LCM is therefore the implementation, management, and oversight, by the designated PM, of all activities associated with the acquisition (such as development, production, fielding, sustainment, and disposal) of a DoD weapon system across its life cycle. LCM bases major system development decisions on their effect on life cycle operational effectiveness and affordability. LCM therefore encompasses, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Single point accountability (the PM, with direct support from the PSM) for developing and delivering program product support objectives including sustainment
  • Development and implementation of product support strategies
  • Documentation of product support strategies in the Life Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP)
  • Continuing and regular reviews, revalidation, and update of product support and sustainment strategies, including the LCSP and the Product Support Business Case Analysis (BCA)

Implementation of the LCM approach means that all major materiel alternative considerations and all major acquisition functional decisions demonstrate an understanding of the effects on consequential operations and sustainment phase system effectiveness and affordability. In addition, LCM assigns the PM responsibility for effective and timely acquisition, product support, availability, and sustainment of a weapon system throughout its life cycle." 

In terms of the PM's LCM responsibilities, the PSM Guidebook states that the PM is "is accountable for the implementation, management, and oversight of all activities associated with development, production, sustainment, and disposal of a system across its life cycle. As part of this, the PM has the responsibility to develop an appropriate sustainment strategy to achieve effective and affordable operational readiness consistent with the Warfighter resources allocated to that objective. The PM's responsibilities for oversight and management of the product support function are typically delegated to a PSM who leads the development, implementation, and top-level integration and management of all sources of support to meet Warfighter sustainment and readiness requirements. This top-level government role is crucial to the delivery of not only system level, but also portfolio and enterprise level capabilities across the spectrum of defense resources. 

DoD Product Support Business Model (PSBM). The PSBM defines the framework in which the planning, development, implementation, and execution of product support for a weapon system, subsystem, or component is accomplished over its life cycle. The PSBM describes the methodology promoted by DoD to facilitate optimized product support by balancing weapon system availability and ownership cost and encouraging the most advantageous use of an integrated defense industrial base. The model, as discussed in detail in paragraph 2.1 and Figure 4 of the PSM Guidebook and a related PSBM ACQuipedia article, provides a clearly delineated description of the roles, relationships, accountability, responsibility and business agreements among the managers, integrators, and providers of product support. For an interactive graphical illustration, see also the PSBM Job Support Tool (JST).

The PSM, the life cycle logistician and the entire logistics team, play key roles in supporting the DoD PM execute their LCM responsibilities. Indeed, by definition, "Life Cycle Logistics focuses on "the ability to plan, develop, implement, and manage comprehensive, affordable, and effective systems support strategies. Life Cycle Logistics (functional area) encompasses the entire system’s life cycle including acquisition (design, develop, test, produce and deploy), sustainment (operations and support), and disposal." (Source: DoD Logistics Human Capital Strategy). Moreover, "the Life Cycle Logistics functional area spans the entire system life cycle, encompassing both acquisition and sustainment activities, and includes professionals responsible for planning, development, implementation, and management of effective and affordable weapons, materiel, or information systems product support strategies....Life cycle logisticians perform a principal joint and/or DoD component logistics role during both the acquisition and operational phases of a system’s life cycle to:

  • Ensure product support strategies meet program goals for operational effectiveness and readiness;
  • Ensure supportability requirements are addressed consistently with cost, schedule, and performance;
  • Ensure supportability considerations are implemented during systems design;
  • Meet system materiel availability, materiel reliability, operations and support cost, and mean down time objectives; and deliver optimal life cycle product support." (Source:DoD Life Cycle Logistics Functional Area Overview)

Finally, from a strategic perspective, the DoD Weapon System Acquisition Reform: Product Support Assessment) outlined four key LCM implementation guidelines:

  1. Govern sustainment as part of the life cycle
  2. Design for sustainability, and integrate acquire-to-retire processes
  3. Manage predictable costs throughout the life cycle
  4. Integrate human capital planning into life cycle focus 


The "LCMNotNew" graphic attached below illustrates that the LCM concept has been in existence for some time.