U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Home
  2. Program of Record (POR)

Program of Record (POR)

ALCL 124


1.) Program as recorded in the current Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) or as updated from the last FYDP by approved program documentation (e.g., Acquisition Program Baseline (APB), acquisition strategy, or Selected Acquisition Report (SAR)). If program documentation conflicts with latest FYDP, the FYDP takes priority. 2.) May also refer to a program having successfully achieved formal program initiation, normally Milestone B. Note: The term "Program of Record" is no longer used throughout the acquisition community and has been eliminated from most of the DoD publications that guide the DoD acquisition process. The language in paragraph 2 applies only to programs managed in accordance with procedures detailed in the Major Capability Acquisition Pathway Instruction (DoDI 5000.85).

General Information

Establishing a Program of Record (POR)

According to DoDI 5000.85, Major Capability Acquisition, during the Materiel Solution Analysis (MSA) Phase the Component Acquisition Executive (CAE) will select a Program Manager (PM) and establish a program office to complete the necessary actions associated with planning the acquisition program. During the MSA phase, as with each subsequent milestone, the PM will review the information requirements for the upcoming decision event, submit any waiver requests or otherwise prepare for necessary Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) planning meetings, with the purpose at this early stage being to ensure timely preparation of the business approach and other key elements of program planning underlying the proposed Acquisition Strategy (AS).

PMs are assigned and programs become official POR very early in the acquisition continuum because so many of the requirements in the first two acquisition phases are foundational for the remainder of a weapon system’s lifecycle. For example, the same reference states that at the MS A review the PM will present the acquisition strategy, the business approach, “Should Cost” targets, framing assumptions, an assessment of program risk and planned mitigation actions, and initial Product Support planning.

Moving Ahead...

Just beyond MS A, during the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) Phase, the PM will plan the balance of the program and prepare for subsequent decision points and phases. The PM will submit an updated AS for Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) approval in sufficient time to inform development of the Request for Proposal (RFP), if appropriate, for the next phase, and the updated AS will describe the overall approach to acquiring the capability to include the program schedule, risks, funding, the business strategy, and the IP strategy.

The business strategy will describe the rationale for the procurement approach and how competition will be maintained throughout the program life cycle, and detail how incentives will be employed to support the Department’s goals. During this stage and prior to MS B, the DoD Component will present an affordability analysis and proposed affordability goals based on the resources that are projected to be available to the Component in the portfolio(s) or mission area(s) associated with the program under consideration. This analysis at MS B demonstrates the ability of the Component’s estimated budgets to fund the new program over its planned life cycle.

Budgeting AND Program Management Term

The term POR is a budgeting term as much or more than a program management term, indicating this phase of the lifecycle – when a program has a dedicated funding line in the budget. For this reason, MS B is often considered a program’s official start because the MDA approves entry into the EMD phase and formally initiates the program by approving the acquisition program baseline (APB); although a PM may often be assigned even before MS A for all the indicated reasons. This is supported by DoDD 5000.01, The Defense Acquisition System, language directing “the acquisition system will be designed to acquire products and services that satisfy user needs with measurable and timely improvements to mission capability, material readiness, and operational support, at a fair and reasonable price.”

Varying Program Types

Note that these definitions are essentially the same regardless of DoDI 5000.02 pathway, or Acquisition Category (ACAT) levels, or Business System Category (BCAT), although some pathways do not use POR terminology.

  • Urgent Capability Acquisitions – Consult DoDI 5000.81. This document discusses transition of the abbreviated urgent acquisition processes to POR status. It states that no later than one year after the acquisition effort enters Operations and Sustainment (O&S) phase (or earlier if directed by the DoD Component), the Component will appoint an official to conduct a Disposition Analysis. Based on that analysis, the component head and the CAE determine disposition of the system. Considering the performance of the fielded system, long term operational needs, and the relationship of the capability to the component’s current and planned inventory of equipment, the continuation of non-materiel initiatives, the extension of science and technology developments related to the fielded capability, and the completion of MDA-approved and funded materiel improvements, the disposition official will recommend either termination (demilitarization and disposal), sustainment for contingency duration, or transition to a POR. If the capability serves an enduring purpose, it may be transitioned to a POR, once funded in the component’s budget. Supportability and sustainment planning for Urgent Capability Acquisition should include interim contract support and contract logistics support until the capability’s formal programmed funding is established.
  • Middle Tier of Acquisition – Consult DoDI 5000.80. The MTA pathway is intended to fill a gap in the Defense Acquisition System (DAS) for those capabilities that have a level of maturity to allow them to be rapidly prototyped within an acquisition program or fielded, within 5 years of MTA program start. The MTA pathway may be used to accelerate capability maturation before transitioning to another acquisition pathway or may be used to minimally develop a capability before rapidly fielding.
  • Major Capability Acquisition – Consult DoDI 5000.85. The MCA Pathway is the basis for most of the terminology in this article.
  • Software Acquisition – Consult DoDI 5000.87. This pathway doesn’t contain equivalents of the Milestone phases associated with the MCA pathway.  For Software Acquisition, “during the planning phase, the DA will select a PM and may establish a new program office or assign an existing program office to shape and plan the software acquisition. The PM will develop a constrained, tailored set of strategies to acquire, develop, and deliver the software capabilities, and will obtain the necessary resources (e.g., people, funding, technology) to effectively execute the strategies.
  • Defense Business Systems – Consult DoDI 5000.75. Uses Business System Category (BCAT) vs. ACAT. States that where PMs are not assigned the billet may be labeled as a Functional Lead, with training and responsibilities like the typical PM background and role.
  • Acquisition of Services – Consult DoDI 5000.74, Defense Acquisition of Services. This pathway uses “Services Categories”, or S-CATs. A Functional Services Manager (FSM) with domain expertise for a given service requirement (e.g., transportation unit commander, installation commander, medical treatment facility commander) typically exercises program management responsibilities.

Service Specifics

There are no Service specific guidelines for when a program becomes an official program or POR, except for the Army which, in concert with the above discussion, stipulates in AR 70-1, Army Acquisition Policy, that MS B is the customary point of program initiation for the Army unless the maturity or structure of the program justifies entry into the DAS framework at a later point.