System integration is the concept of analyzing trade-offs within functional areas of an organization/process, and determining which levels each functional area should operate at in order to produce the most inexpensive system while meeting desired performance/service objectives. This “big picture/high level” system management concept is essential, because optimizing each individual function may actually sub-optimize the totality of the system. One field that has experienced a significant shift towards total integration is supply chain management. An integrated supply chain balances the trade-offs that exist between its components. Some of the sub-functions of a supply chain can include the procurement process, manufacturing process, transportation process, warehousing/inventory process, and retailing process. If each of these components viewed their responsibilities myopically, then it is possible that the supply chain may be inefficient and ineffective because the total system has been sub-optimized. For example, procurement may concentrate on finding the lowest purchase price for raw materials/products, even though purchasing lesser quality materials could create a costly domino effect for the remaining functions. One common trade-off occurs between the transportation and inventory processes. A negative correlation usually exists between the number of scheduled order deliveries and the amount of inventory required in the system to safeguard against factors such as the uncertainty of supply and demand. An integrated supply chain analyzes all of the trade-offs and creates a cultural understanding among the functional areas that each area impacts the others and although one system may be sub-optimized, the total supply chain is optimized.

Creating an integrated system is not limited to the private sector. One area in the government where an integrated methodology would significantly improve the quality, timeliness, and cost of the output would be establishing a linkage between the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) process, the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) process, and the Defense Acquisition Process (DAP). The purpose of this article is to identify sub-optimality, from a high level perspective, residing in the current JCIDS and JCTD processes, and highlight disconnect between the two relative to their linkage to the DAP.

The JCIDS process exists to support the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) in identifying, assessing, validating, and prioritizing joint military capability requirements, and provide requirements related advice (CJCSI 3170.01J, 2013, p. 2). The most critical aspect of the JCIDS process is to allow the JROC to manage and prioritize capability requirements within and across the Joint staff. The review and validation of capability requirement documents is the most visible aspect of the JCIDS process, including staffing, review, and validation, enabling trade-offs and prioritizations within and between portfolios (CJCSI 3170.01J, 2013, p. 2). The iterative manner in which JCIDS operates will next be defined.

Validated initial Capability Based Assessment (CBA) documents drive the early JCIDS process, which in turn drives capability requirement documents related to materiel and non-materiel solution approaches. Since the JCTD process develops and demonstrates potential materiel solutions the remainder of this article will relate to materiel approaches/solutions. Knowledge gained early in the DAP is leveraged to refine capability requirements and make effective cost, performance, schedule, and quantity trade-offs in the succeeding capability requirement documents, which then drive the development, procurement, and fielding of materiel solutions that satisfy the validated capability requirements and close/mitigate the associated capability gaps (4.2.2. Pre-Materiel Development Decision, 2013).

Prior to entering the DAP for a new start or updated capability requirement, the JCIDS process completes the CBA. In turn, the CBA underpins an Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) or a partial draft Capabilities Development Document (CDD) and a draft Analyses of Alternatives (AoA) Study Plan to serve as pre-DAP entry documents (4.2.2. Pre-Materiel Development Decision, 2013). The pre-DAP entry documents provide the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) with an in-depth understanding of the operational capability gaps, identify an appropriate range of materiel solution approaches, identify near-term opportunities for rapid response, analyze trade space, and plan for future technical efforts. This allows an informed decision to be made with respect to the project’s viability and milestone entry point (4.2.2. Pre-Materiel Development Decision, 2013).

Once the appropriate pre-DAP documents, which may be accompanied with any prior analytic, experimental, prototyping, and/or technology demonstration efforts, are developed a Materiel Development Decision (MDD) review may be requested. A successful MDD review ends when the MDA approves entry into the DAP. This decision is documented in a signed Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM), which specifies the approved Milestone entry point and approved AoA Guidance (10-017, 2010).

The typical entry point for a project is the Materiel Solution Analysis (MSA) Phase, also known as Milestone A. The objective of the MSA phase is to select and adequately describe a preferred materiel solution approach to satisfy the phase-specific entrance criteria for the next program milestone designated by the MDA. A Milestone A AoA will focus on concept refinement (4.2.3 Materiel Solution Analysis Phase, 2013). Once sufficient analysis has been executed, an MDA review to move past Milestone A will occur. Upon successful completion of the Milestone A MDA review, the next milestone is usually a decision to invest in technology maturation and preliminary design in the Technology Development (TD) Phase (4.2.4. Technology Development Phase, 2013). A Milestone B MDA review is then informed by an approved CDD, an approved AoA, and an approved Cost-Benefit Analysis (C-BA) which evaluates the systems’ performances, effectiveness, cost, and affordability of achieving the CDD requirements. Typically, based on the conclusions of the AoA, a Milestone B MDA review will result in progressing to the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) Phase. During the EMD Phase, the JCIDS process updates the AoA, if necessary, and a Capabilities Production Document (CPD) is produced for the Milestone C MDA review (4.2.5. Engineering and Manufacturing Development Phase, 2013).  A successful Milestone C MDA review typically progresses the materiel program to the Production and Deployment Phase of the DAP (4.2.6. Production and Deployment Phase, 2013).

The JCTD is an Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) sponsored process that can synchronize the DAP and JCIDS. JCTDs are intended to develop and demonstrate a technological approach/solution that has potential to rapidly transition to the field to resolve an immediate battlefield deficiency.

The JCTD technological approach is in the Science and Technology Development and Demonstration Phase. Before the JCTD initiation there has been no MDD or ADM from a MDA to enter the DAP. If and when the JCTD results, i.e. the Operational Utility Assessment (OUA) and Business Case Analysis (BCA), are presented and prove to the MDA that the JCTD technology is at an acceptable level of maturity to close the operational battlefield deficiency, is cost-effective, and affordable, the MDA can transition the technology to the field for immediate use and further evaluation; however, this transition does not establish a Program of Record (POR).

If one of the JCTD goals is to make the technological approach that is being explored and experimented a Program of Record (POR), then a synergistic JCTD can rapidly develop and transition a technology to MS B or C faster than the normal JCIDS process. The JCTD is expected to be more expeditious because the normal JCIDS regulations are circumvented by using OSD and other stakeholder funding allocations to hire all omnipotent contractors to conduct the same elements that would normally occur in the JCIDS CBA, Post Independent Assessment (PIA), ICD, AoA, MS A, AoA update, Cost-Benefit Analysis (C-BA) and CDD. JCTD technologies may have the potential to transition to a DAP POR, but require the same JCIDS underpinnings and Milestone B entrance criteria as other materiel solutions that enter the DAP to become a POR.

OSD requires JCTDs to be sponsored by a Combatant Command (COCOM). Typically, proponents are neither the JCTD sponsor, nor the JCTD Coordinator for OSD. The JCTD Coordinator is also at the COCOM. Typically, the proponent’s role is to support the COCOM in the execution of the JCTD in accordance with the JCTD Implementation Directive (ID). The voting members of the JCTD Integrated Management Team (IMT) are the OSD Oversight Executive (OE), COCOM (Operational Manager), Technical Manager (also the fiscal manager), and the Transition Manager (normally a Product Manager (PM)). Note that the proponent is not a voting member of the IMT.

If the JCTD IMT uses the funds allocated by OSD and agencies typically represented by the IMT to execute a JCTD cohesively, efficiently, and thoroughly, then the technology build, subsequent demonstrations performed, and assessments made during the OUA along with the BCA can equate to the JCIDS CBA, ICD, AoA, and C-BA, which can underpin a CDD or CPD, and support an MDA’s decision to accept the technology as a POR.

The successful integration of JCIDS and the JCTD into the DAP will require the IMT to be restructured to include the proponent as an equal voting member. By including the proponent in the decision making process, the necessary JCIDS components can be included in the JCTD ID, Management Plans, Methodologies, Assessment Plans, Data Collection Plans, and other events to support both the JCIDS and JCTD processes.


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10-017, D. (2010, September 13). Development Planning to Inform Materiel Development Decision (MDD) Reviews and Support Analyses of Alternatives (AoA). Washington DC, USA.

4.2.2. Pre-Materiel Development Decision. (2013, May 23). Retrieved December 2013, from Defense Acquisition Guidebook:

4.2.3 Materiel Solution Analysis Phase. (2013, May 23). Retrieved December 2013, from Defense Acquisition Guidebook:

4.2.4. Technology Development Phase. (2013, September 03). Retrieved December 2013, from Defense Acquisition Guidebook:

4.2.5. Engineering and Manufacturing Development Phase. (2013, September 03). Retrieved December 2013, from Defense Acquisition Guidebook:

4.2.6. Production and Deployment Phase. (2013, April 22). Retrieved December 2013, from Defense Acquisition Guidebook: CJCSI 3170.01J. (2013, August 01). Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS). USA.