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Combatant Commander warfighters operate and, to varying degrees, repair and maintain our national defense systems.  Their need for new or upgraded warfighting capability drives government and industry’s iterative requirements generation, acquisition, and product support processes, per Joint Staff and DoD 5000-series policies.  The Services ensure that warfighter requirements for the sustainment performance and cost-affordability related characteristics of systems are specified in design-quantitative terms and tied to discrete development, test, and fielded performance metrics. 

These warfighter technical parameters requirements for sustainment-related system capability and their measurement metrics constitute the “performance based” prerequisite for all life-cycle sustainment strategies and subsequent organic and industry contractual arrangements, such as PBL. The term "Warfighter"  is intended to be neutral regarding military service, branch, gender, and service status. It is frequently used in DoD memos or directives which are intended to apply to all services equally.

The term warfighter is also often used more broadly to refer to any individual, regardless of rank or position who is responsible for making decisions that affect combat power.  A warfighter can be then involved in a wide variety of functions, including those directly related to the battlefield such as movement and maneuver, intelligence, command and control, and protection, and also including those functions related to product support, sustainment, maintenance, supply and logsitics support.

Understanding warfighter requirements in terms of performance and affordability is an essential initial step in developing a meaningful product support strategy. (DoD Directive 5000.01) Representatives of the operational commands and organizations that support the warfighting combatant commanders are generally the PM’s primary customers, and thus key stakeholders on any PBL effort. For a graphical illustration of the desired linkages between the Program Manager/Product Support Manager and Warfighter product support requirements and desired outcomes, see the DoD Product Support Business Model (PSBM) ACQuipedia article or read more about it in the DoD Product Support Manager (PSM) Guidebook

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Program Manager (PM)

Per the Defense Acquisition Guidebook (DAG), Chapter 11, the PM is designated with the overall responsibility and authority to direct the development, production, and initial deployment (as a minimum) of a new defense system. The PM is accountable for cost, schedule, and performance reporting to the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA). The PM's role, then, is to be the primary agent within the defense acquisition system to ensure the warfighter's modernization requirements are met efficiently and effectively, in the shortest possible time.

Additionally, according to the DoD Product Support Manager (PSM) Guidebook, the effective PM should have the "big picture" perspective of the program, including in-depth knowledge of the interrelationships among its elements. An effective PM:

  • Serves as a leader and a manager, not primarily a task "doer";
  • Understands the requirements, environmental factors, organizations, activities, constraints, risks, and motivations impacting the program;
  • Knows and is capable of working within the established framework, managerial systems, and processes that provide funding and other decisions for the program to proceed;
  • Comprehends and puts to use the basic skills of management-planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and controlling, so people and systems harmonize to produce the desired results;
  • Coordinates the work of defense industry contractors, consultants, in-house engineers and logisticians, contracting officers, and others, whether assigned directly to the program office or supporting it through some form of integrated product team or matrix support arrangement;
  • Builds support for the program and monitors reactions and perceptions that help or impede progress; and
  • Serves both the military needs of the user in the field and the priority and funding constraints imposed by managers in the Pentagon and military service/defense agency headquarters.

Per DoD Instruction 5000.02 Operation of the Defense Acquisition System, the PM also is also required to work with the user community to document performance and sustainment requirements in performance agreements such that the program clearly specifies objective outcomes, measures, resource commitments, and stakeholder responsibilities. The PM is required to employ effective PBL planning, development, implementation, and management. It is important to note that the Product Support Manager (PSM) reports directly to the PM for ACAT 1 and 2 programs, and is responsible for developing and implementing the program’s PBL strategy.

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Product Support Manager (PSM)

According to the DoD Product Support Manager (PSM) Guidebook, “DoD recognizes that the Program Manager (PM) has life cycle management responsibility. In 2009, Congress officially established the PSM as a key leadership position, distinct from the PM, who reports directly to the PM for ACAT 1 and 2 programs. The PM is charged with delivering Warfighter required capabilities while the PSM, working for the PM, is responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive product support strategy and for adjusting performance requirements and resource allocations across Product Support Integrators (PSIs) and Product Support Providers (PSPs) as needed to implement this strategy. Furthermore, the PSM‘s responsibility carries across the life cycle of the weapon system by requiring the revalidation of the business case prior to any change in support strategy or every five years, whichever occurs first. The PSM must be a properly qualified member of the Armed Forces or full-time employee of the Department of Defense.”

PSM roles, responsibilities and positional requirements were established in Public Law 111-84, Section 805, and implemented in Directive Type Memorandum (DTM) 10-015 Requirements for Life Cycle Management and Product Support. Extensive related information, including Service implementation policies, processes, presentations, articles, and links to related information are also available on the DAU Logistics Community of Practice (LOG CoP) Product Support Manager (PSM) website and the Logistics Director’s Blog. Key enablers include, but are by no means limited to:

The Product Support Business Model “provides the PSM a common and consistent product support language and guidance on how to develop and execute product support...”, “provides a clearly delineated description of the roles, relationships, accountability, responsibility and business agreements among the managers, integrators, and providers of product support” and “...effectively describes the methodology by which DoD intends to ensure achievement of optimized product support through balancing maximum weapon system availability with the most affordable and predictable total ownership cost.” It also graphically illustrates the relationship between the PSM and other key stakeholders including the Warfighter, the Program Manager, the Product Support Integrator(s), and the Product Support Provider(s). Under the PSBM, the PSM leverages Product Support Arrangements to achieve the desired product support outcomes. According to the PSM Guidebook, “a Product Support Arrangement (PSA) is a contract, task order, or any type of agreement or non-contractual arrangement within the Federal Government, for the performance of sustainment or logistics support required for major weapon systems, subsystems, or components. The term includes arrangements for any of the following including performance based logistics, sustainment support, contractor logistics support, life cycle product support, and weapon systems product support.”

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Product Support Integrator (PSI)

The Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report describes the role as follows: -–"The term 'Product Support Integrator' means an entity within the Federal Government or outside the Federal Government charged with integrating all aspects of product support, both private and public, defined within the scope of a product support arrangement."

The DoD Product Support Manager (PSM) Guidebook, provides amplifying information, stating that a PSI is an entity who performs as a formally bound agent (e.g., under a contract, Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Service-Level Agreement (SLA)) charged with integrating all sources of support, public and private, defined within the scope of PBL agreements to achieve the documented outcomes.

The PSM, while remaining accountable for system performance, effectively delegates the responsibility for delivering warfighter outcomes to the PSI. In this relationship, and consistent with 'buying performance,' the PSI has considerable flexibility and latitude in how the necessary support is provided, so long as the outcomes are accomplished. The PM or PSM selects a PSI from DoD or the private sector. Activities coordinated by support integrators can include, as appropriate, functions provided by organic organizations, private sector providers, or a partnership between organic and private sector providers. The PM/PSM ensures that the product support concept is integrated with other logistics support and combat support functions to provide agile and robust combat capability. The PM/PSM invites the Service and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) logistics activities to participate in product support strategy development and IPTs. These participants help to ensure effective integration of system-oriented approaches with commodity-oriented approaches, optimize support to users, and maximize total logistics system value.

The role of the PSI can be narrow or broad, as directed and designed by the PSM.

  • At one end of the spectrum, a single PSI could be assigned with the responsibility for entire system level outcomes (e.g., Operational Availability, Materiel Availability). This approach has the advantages of clearly assigning responsibility (and visibility) of Warfighter outcomes to a single point of responsibility and provides for a comprehensive and horizontally integrated support solution that accounts for all the product support elements.
  • Alternately, the PSM can assign top level PSI roles for the major system subsystems; the most prevalent example would be dual PSIs for an aircraft system, with a PSI designed for the airframe and a PSI designated for the propulsion system.
  • Devolving further, PSIs could be assigned for multiple major subsystems that comprise a larger platform system capability, such as a naval vessel.

The determination of the number, designation, and responsibilities of the PSIs comprising a product support strategy framework will result from both the Business Case Analysis (BCA) process as well as the PSM‘s consideration of the operational mission role, environment, and support requirements of the objective system.

The PM or PSM selects a PSI from DoD or the private sector. Activities coordinated by support integrators can include, as appropriate, functions provided by:

  • Organic organizations;
  • Private sector providers; and/or
  • Partnership(s) between organic and private sector providers.

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Product Support Provider (PSP)

From the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report, the term ‘Product Support Provider’ refers to an entity that provides product support functions. The term includes entities within the DoD, an entity within the private sector, or a partnership between such entities.

The DoD Product Support Manager (PSM) Guidebook, adds that PSPs are assigned responsibilities to perform and accomplish the functions represented by the Integrated Product Support (IPS) elements which, per the BCA process and consistent with statute and policy, comprise the range of best value or statutorily assigned workloads that achieve the Warfighter support outcomes. This can be done at the program, portfolio, or enterprise level.

A primary objective of the BCA process is to determine, the optimum sources of support depending on capabilities, competencies, best value, and the qualitative efficiency and effectiveness of support. For each of the IPS elements there will be logical candidates, both public and private, to accomplish the required product support. Within each of those IPS element support functions, the work will further delineate into technical, hands-on, management, and quality tasks. The PSM may elect to assign support integration responsibilities to one or more PSIs who will be assigned specified performance or support outcomes and, consistent with that assignment, given authority to manage the PSP and functions necessary to achieve those outcomes.

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Life Cycle Logistician

The Life Cycle Logistics career field spans the entire system life cycle, encompassing both acquisition logistics 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. To be successful, they must therefore be proficient in the following competency areas:

  • Logistics Design influence
  • Integrated Product Support (IPS) Planning
  • Product Support and Sustainment
  • Configuration Management
  • Reliability and Maintainability Analysis
  • Technical/Product Data Management
  • Supportability Analysis

Life cycle logisticians ultimately must pursue two primary objectives, namely to ensure that weapons systems are designed, maintained, and modified to continuously reduce the demand for logistics; and to ensure effective and efficient logistics support. The resources required to provide product support must be minimized while meeting warfighter needs and ensuring long-term affordable materiel readiness.

Life cycle logisticians achieve these objectives by ensuring the integration of the Integrated Product Support (IPS) elements to maximize supportability, reliability, availability, maintainability, and mission effectiveness of the system throughout its life cycle. They influence system design and provide effective, timely product support capabilities that drive effective, best value product support planning and execution. Emphasis is placed on ensuring materiel readiness at optimal life cycle costs and integrating life cycle management principles by designing and implementing performance-based life cycle product support strategies to provide effective system support. Life cycle logisticians can work directly in a program management office, in support of the program manager, or in other supporting and sustainment logistics activity offices. Level III certified life cycle logisticians can also serve as DoD Product Support Managers (PSM), responsible for:

  • Providing weapon systems product support subject matter expertise to the Program Manager (PM) for the execution of the PM’s duties as the Total Life Cycle Systems Manager;
  • Developing and implementing a comprehensive, outcome-based product support strategy;
  • Promoting opportunities to maximize competition while meeting the objective of best-value, long-term outcomes to the warfighter;
  • Seeking to leverage enterprise opportunities across programs and DoD Components;
  • Using appropriate analytical tools and conducting appropriate cost analyses, to determine the preferred product support strategy;
  • Developing and implementing appropriate product support arrangements;
  • Assessing and adjusting resource allocations and performance requirements for product support to meet warfighter needs and optimize implementation of the product support strategy;
  • Documenting the product support strategy in the Life Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP); and
  • Conducting periodic product support strategy reviews and revalidating the supporting business case analysis.

Thus, life cycle logisticians and product support managers are ultimately responsible for designing, developing, implementing, and sustaining tailored life cycle product support that optimizes affordability, materiel readiness and joint warfighter requirements, and provides the nation an enduring strategic advantage over its adversaries.

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Contracting Officer

Individuals delegated authority by the head of the agency to enter into and administer contracts are Contracting Officers. Only these designated individuals are authorized to obligate funds and commit the Government contractually. This authority is vested in the individual. Some authorities are unlimited; others are limited to specific dollar amounts, or to specific functions, such as pre-award, administration, and termination. The extent of authority is expressly defined in "warrants" or other instruments of delegation, such as orders or certificates of appointment. While these agents of the Government receive advice from specialists in law, audit, engineering, transportation, finance, or other functions, they remain the ones who are responsible and accountable for the contracts.

Standards for serving as a Contracting Officer are demanding and called out in detail in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and Defense Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS). The standards include education and professional training requirements, as well as specified contracting experience, depending on the dollar value and complexity of the contracts to be awarded or administered in the position.

The term Contracting officer also includes certain authorized representatives acting within the limits of their authority as delegated by the Contracting Officer.  You may hear the following terms to further describe types of Contracting Officers:

  • Procurement Contracting Officer (PCO) - Generally performs pre-award functions prior to contract award.  A PCO may be responsible for performing both pre-award and post-award duties.  After award, however, the DoD PCO normally delegates certain contract administration functions to an Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO) at the Defense Contract Management Agency DCMA (see more information below)  
  • ACO - Refers to a contracting officer who is administering contracts. (FAR 2.101)
  • Termination Contracting Officer (TCO) - refers to a contracting officer who is settling terminated contracts. (FAR 2.101)
  • Corporate Administrative Contracting Officer (CACO) - refers to an ACO who is assigned to a specific contractor’s location.  Contractors with more than one operational location (e.g., division, plant, or subsidiary) often have corporate-wide policies, procedures, and activities requiring Government review and approval and affecting the work of more than one ACO. In these circumstances, effective and consistent contract administration may require the assignment of a CACO to deal with corporate management and to perform selected contract administration functions on a corporate-wide basis. (FAR 42.601)

Because a well-crafted arrangement is the key to PBL success, it is critical to have a Contracting Officer in a key role on the PBL Integrated Product Team (IPT). Decisions regarding vehicle type (e.g., Firm Fixed Price (FFP), Cost Plus Award and/or Incentive Fee (CPAF, CPIF), Fixed Price Incentive Firm (FPIF), or Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF) etc.), contract length, performance metrics and monitoring techniques are just some of the decisions that must be made by or with a Contracting Officer.

Because planning and implementing a PBL arrangement is often a complex and novel endeavor to many of those involved, it is best to have a Contracting Officer who is both experienced and flexible. A Contracting Officer who is well versed in the art of the contractually possible AND one who can support the goal of crafting a tailored PBL arrangement will contribute substantially to the team’s PBL efforts. Conversely, working with an inexperienced Contracting Officer and/or one who is unwilling to move beyond traditional transaction-based support arrangements can mean a death knell to the most promising of PBL endeavors.  By working proactively with Contracting Management to assist in educating and exposing contracting personnel to PBL early in the acquisition process, through planning, requirements, and strategy development, it can greatly enhance the final product and result in a PBL contract that is aligned with the agency’s mission and goals.

Another contributor to the PBL contracting endeavors may be representatives from the DCMA.  DCMA is the DoD component that works directly with Defense suppliers to help ensure that DoD, Federal, and allied government supplies and services are delivered on time, at projected cost, and meet all performance requirements.

DCMA professionals serve as "information brokers" and in-plant representatives for military, Federal, and allied government buying agencies -- both during the initial stages of the acquisition cycle and throughout the life of the resulting contracts.

Before contract award - DCMA provides advice and information to help construct effective solicitations, identify potential risks, select the most capable contractors, and write contracts that meet the needs of our customers in DoD, Federal and allied government agencies.

After contract award - DCMA monitors contractors' performance and management systems to ensure that cost, product performance, and delivery schedules are in compliance with the terms and conditions of the contracts.

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System Engineer

Per Mr. Stephen P. Welby, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Systems Engineering: “My primary goal is to ensure that the DoD's systems engineering capabilities are focused on providing the technical insight required to support knowledge-based decision making throughout the acquisition process.” Obviously, this includes Systems Engineers in the sustainment discussions. The importance of systems engineering to PBL cannot be overestimated.

Logisticians must work closely with Systems Engineers as early in the program life cycle as possible. Initially, the focus will be on affecting overall weapon system Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, and Supportability (RAM&S) in the design. Designing in RAM&S early in the life cycle of a weapon system usually costs far less than trying to improve it later, but the proper constructed PBL approach may help to incentivize improvements in RAM&S concerns over time. The System Engineers can help to identify specific components for monitoring throughout the system's life cycle. Done right, this approach will help focus the PSI or PSP on the targeted weapon system improvement that can enhance system performance and reduce support costs.

The PBL IPT must continually assess the actual levels of support achieved based on proposed system concepts and technological applications, and System Engineering representation is crucial to these ongoing assessments.

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Test & Evaluation

T&E individuals are engineers, scientists, operations research analysts, system analysts, computer scientists and other degree-holding technical personnel who plan, perform, and manage T&E tasks in support of acquisition. They can be T&E team members, T&E leads for programs or Service, Agency, and Facility T&E managers. Individuals in T&E positions are subject matter experts who will plan, monitor, manage, and conduct T&E of prototype, new, fielded, or modified systems. They analyze, assess, and evaluate test data and results and prepare assessments of system performance and reports of T&E findings. T&E participation with the PBL IPT is focused on ensuring that efficient and executable test strategies are included in the sustainment approach, where appropriate.

Per the T&E Management Guide, testing must extend over the entire acquisition cycle of the system and be carefully planned and executed to ensure the readiness and supportability of the system. T&E representatives on the PBL IPT can assist in focusing testing on the support arrangement’s RAM&S objectives. During initial arrangement development, they can assist in translating these objectives into quantifiable data and testing requirements for inclusion into the contract, to facilitate a way to demonstrate actual performance against the required performance parameters. During PBL execution, T&E representatives participate in testing events, and assess testing outcomes. This assessment information can be used during technical reviews to identify deficiencies and potential corrections/improvements, and can also be applied into incentive/award discussions with the PSI/PSP. Because testing efforts provide a quantitative link between readiness objectives and actual performance, T&E representation can be a powerful PBL IPT force multiplier.

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Business & Financial Manager

This career field encompasses all aspects financial management. It includes financial planning, formulating financial programs, and budgets, budget analysis and execution, and earned value management. As advisors to Commanders, Program Executive Officers, PMs, or other acquisition decision makers, members of this career field are responsible for business financial management of defense acquisition programs in direct support of the defense acquisition process.

Because the PM faces financial management challenges when transitioning to sustainment, it is wise to include the Business Financial Manager in sustainment discussions. This is true whether transitioning to a new sustainment approach for a legacy weapon system, when establishing product support for a new weapon system, or when establishing support for major modification to a legacy weapon system. There will be numerous and complex financial or “color of money” issues which need to be addressed as part of the PBL strategy determination discussions.

There are issues regarding the timing/expiration of funds, especially when a support system includes multiple appropriations (e.g., for research and development, procurement, and operations and maintenance). This can prove to be a delicate balancing act. There are also issues regarding the types of goods and/or types of services one can procure, also depending on the type of appropriation. Additionally, there is the issue of ownership, as Operation and Maintenance (O&M) funds are typically owned by the operational commands – not the PM.

The program may decide to use Defense Working Capital Funds (DWCF) to solve some of these problems, but there are still issues to be addressed. For example, when the PBL arrangement is to be funded by DWCF, O&M funds must flow either directly to the program vice the operational commands, or the operational commands need to commit to providing funds to sustain the DWCF. This reduction in budget authority is a great concern to the operational commands because it reduces their funding flexibility. The Business Financial Manager is a crucial participant in the PBL IPT, with the requisite skills and expertise to help navigate the optimal financial approach for the selected sustainment strategy.

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Cost Estimator

In DoD there has never been a greater need to assess the affordability of proposed systems, construct business cases, compare alternatives, program resources, evaluate reasonableness of contractors’ proposals and assess the impacts of budgetary/scope changes to a program/activity.  Cost analyses create a foundation for many documents in the Program Planning Budgeting and Execution System (PPBES). Additionally, per the DoD Product Support Manager (PSM) Guidebook, the PSM must conduct appropriate cost analyses to validate the product support strategy, including cost benefit analyses as outlined in Office of Management and Budget Circular A-94.

Involving the Business Cost Estimator is critical in developing the suitable level of Product Support or Sustainment BCA. The BCA should be a full, fair, and accurate comparison when evaluating multiple sustainment alternatives, especially those that result in new or changed resource requirements. The Business Cost Estimator has the requisite expertise to help develop, analyze, and document cost estimates using analytical approaches and techniques. This support will be invaluable when making  investment decisions, including the initial decision to invest in a sustainment arrangement, as well as validating any proposed scope, schedule, or budget changes that may arise downstream. Business Cost Estimator support can also help verify that planned cost benefits are realized during sustainment execution.

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PSI White Paper Feb 05.doc
Reference2/18/2017 10:17 AM