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life cycle logistics

CLS, ICS, and PBL – A Study in Contrasts … Revisited!

In 2013 we published a DAU LOG Blog post concerning the differences among Contractor Logistics Support (CLS), Interim Contractor Support (ICS), and Performance Based Logistics (PBL). On the 10-year…

CLS, ICS, and PBL – A Study in Contrasts … Revisited!


  1. Home
  2. Blogs
  3. CLS, ICS, and PBL – A Study in Contrasts … Revisited!
Hand holding globe
Shawn Harrison

In 2013 we published a DAU LOG Blog post concerning the differences among Contractor Logistics Support (CLS), Interim Contractor Support (ICS), and Performance Based Logistics (PBL). On the 10-year anniversary, your DAU colleagues wanted to provide an updated list of key statutory, policy, and guidance references on the topic.

What hasn’t changed:

  • CLS is “contracted weapon system sustainment consisting of multiple maintenance and support functions that occur over the life of a weapon system”
  • ICS is “temporary contractor support in lieu of organic capability for a predetermined time…”
  • PBL is “synonymous with performance-based product support, where outcomes are acquired through performance based arrangements that deliver Warfighter requirements and incentivize product support providers to reduce costs through innovation. These arrangements are contracts with industry or inter-governmental agreements. Sources of support may be organic, commercial, or a combination, with primary focus optimizing customer support, weapon system availability, and reduced ownership costs.”
  • None of the 3 terms are synonymous, but all 3 types of product support arrangements (PSA) are valuable tools in a Product Support Manager’s (PSM’s) toolkit
  • PBL (contracts) and ICS are both types of contractor support; however, not all contracts (especially those that are transactional, or pay for “eaches” (each repair, each part, etc.)) are necessarily PBL arrangements
  • PBL arrangements (contracts and intragovernmental agreements) focus on performance outcomes (the “what”) instead of prescribing “how” to accomplish the work
  • PBL is very much a multi-disciplinary activity, and is not just the purview of the life cycle logistician or product support manager
  • A business case, such as a Product Support Business Case Analysis, should be utilized to arrive at the best-value product support alternative, which often includes a mix of public (organic) and private (contract) support, including PBL arrangements and Public-Private Partnerships

What has changed:

  • Governing statute was renumbered from 10 USC 2337 to 10 USC 4324, but still focuses on “providing the best possible product support outcomes at the lowest operations and support cost” (10 USC 4324(a)(2)), requires PSMs to “ensure achievement of desired product support outcomes through development and implementation of appropriate [PSAs]” (10 USC 4324(c)(2)(D)), and includes PBL and CLS as named types of PSAs (10 USC 4324(d)(2))
  • Governing policy is now found in DoDD 5000.01 (updated paragraphs 1.2k through 1.2m) and DoDI 5000.91 (new instruction for product support policy previously found in DoDI 5000.02 Enclosure 6 and DoDI 5000.85 Appendix 3D)
  • DoDI 5000.91 para 4.7, reads: "Performance-Based Life Cycle Product Support. The Program Manager, with the support of the PSM, will develop and implement an effective performance-based life cycle PSS (synonymous with performance-based logistics strategy) that will deliver an integrated and affordable product support solution designed to optimize system readiness for the warfighter. The performance-based life cycle PSS will be the basis for all product support efforts and lead to a product support package to sustain warfighter requirements. At the program level, all product support solutions will be performance based. Product support solutions will include an appropriate mix of product and process metrics with threshold values to monitor performance that may be adjusted as needed to satisfy warfighter requirements. The PSM will employ effective planning, development, implementation, and management in developing a system’s product support arrangements in support of the product support solution. While performance-based product support arrangements may be a key component of a program’s performance-based lifecycle product support solution, this does not mean that all arrangements with industry will be performance-based logistics contracts. Performance-based logistics contracts are utilized when analysis indicates they can effectively reduce cost and improve performance. Performance-based logistics contracts will be structured to specific program needs and may evolve throughout the life cycle. The PSM will maximize the best use of public and private sector capabilities through Government and industry partnership initiatives when developing the PSS."
  • Updates to DoD guidance include the DoD PSM Guidebook and within the coming weeks, a revised DoD PBL Guidebook (watch for a future blog post announcing its publishing)
  • Service policies have also been updated: Army Regulation 700-127 (Section 4-1), Air Force Instruction 63-101/20-101 (para 7.5), and Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5000.2G (Enclosure 11) address PBL, CLS, and/or ICS
  • While key tenets of last decade’s Better Buying Power (BBP) has by and large been subsumed into other DoD initiatives, its key principles, including “incentivizing productivity and innovation in industry and government” are not diminished in importance.

To explore these differences further, encourage practitioners to read an article by Ms Lisa P. Smith, DASD(PS), entitled “Product Support – The Key to Warfighter Readiness,” and check out the PBL Overview ACQuipedia article, the Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) ACQuipedia article, the Interim Contractor Support (ICS) ACQuipedia article, and our PBL Community, which includes information and links to statute, policy, guidance, training, videos, articles, reports, job aids, the DoD PBL Awards program, and other resources.