Acquisition Category (ACAT)

Categories established to facilitate decentralized decision making and execution and compliance with statutorily imposed requirements. The categories determine the level of review, decision authority, and applicable procedures. The following is a high level summary.  For additional details see below.

ACAT Level Criteria  Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) (or as delegated)
 ACAT I: MDAP Estimated costs for all increments to exceed:
  • $480M* RDT&E
  • $2.79B* Procurement
 ACAT ID: USD/AT&L
ACAT IC: CAE
 ACAT IA: MAIS Automated Information System whose estimated costs for all increments expected to exceed
  • $40M* in any single FY
  • $165M* from MSA Phase through deployment at all sites
  • $520M* lifecycle costs
ACAT IAM: USD/AT&L
ACAT IAC: CAE
 ACAT II Does not meet criteria for ACAT I, yet estimated costs expected to exceed:
  • $185M* RDT&E
  • $835M* procurement
CAE or designated by CAE.
 ACAT III Does not meet criteria for ACAT II or above or An AIS program that is not a MAIS program PEO

ACAT I programs are Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) or designated special interest by the MDA. A MDAP is a program that is not a highly sensitive classified program and that is designated by the USD(AT&L) as a MDAP; or that is estimated to require eventual expenditure for research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E), including all planned increments, of more than $480M* or procurement, including all planned increments, of more than $2.79B*. ACAT I programs have two sub-categories:

  1. ACAT ID for which the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) is USD(AT&L). The “D” refers to the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB), which advises the USD(AT&L) at major decision points.
  2. ACAT IC for which the MDA is the DoD component head or, if delegated, the DoD ­component acquisition executive (CAE). The “C” refers to component.

The USD(AT&L) designates programs as ACAT ID or ACAT IC. ACAT IA programs are Major Automated Information Systems (MAIS) or designated special interest by the MDA. A MAIS is a DoD acquisition program for an automated information system (AIS) that is either designated by the MDA as a MAIS, or estimated to exceed:

  • $40M* for all expenditures, for all increments, regardless of the appropriation or fund source, directly related to the AIS definition, design, development, deployment, and sustainment, and incurred in any single fiscal year; or
  • $165M* for all expenditures, for all increments, regardless of the appropriation or fund source, directly related to the AIS definition, design, development, and deployment, and incurred from the beginning of the Materiel Solution Analysis Phase through deployment at all sites; or
  • $520M* for all expenditures, for all increments, regardless of the appropriation or fund source, directly related to the AIS definition, design, development, deployment, operations and maintenance, and incurred from the beginning of the Materiel Solution Analysis Phase through sustainment for the estimated useful life of the system..

AIS do not include computer resources, neither hardware nor software, that are an integral part of a weapon or weapon system; are used for highly sensitive classified programs (as determined by the Secretary of Defense; are used for other highly sensitive IT programs (as determined by the DoD CIO); or determined by the USD(AT&L) or designee to be better overseen as a non-AIS program. ACAT IA programs have two sub-categories:

  1. ACAT IAM for which the MDA is the USD(AT&L). The USD(AT&L) may delegate MDA authority to the DoD CIO, or other designee. The “M” (in ACAT IAM) refers to MAIS.
  2. ACAT IAC which the MDA (USD(AT&L), DoD CIO, or other designee) has delegated to the head of the DoD component or, if delegated, the CAE. The “C” (in ACAT IAC) refers to component.

The USD(AT&L) designates programs as ACAT IAM or ACAT IAC.

ACAT II programs are defined as those acquisition programs that do not meet the criteria for an ACAT I program, but do meet the criteria for a major system. A major system is defined as a program estimated by the DoD component head to require eventual expenditure for RDT&E of more than $185M*, or for procurement of more than $835M* or those designated by the DoD component head to be ACAT II. The MDA is the DoD CAE.

ACAT III programs are defined as those acquisition programs that do not meet the criteria for ACAT II and AIS programs that are not a MAIS program. The MDA is designated by the CAE.

ACAT IV (Navy and Marine Corps only) ACAT programs in the Navy and Marine Corps not otherwise designated as ACAT III are designated ACAT IV. There are two categories of ACAT IV programs: IVT (Test) and IVM (Monitor). ACAT IVT programs require Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) while ACAT IVM programs do not. Abbreviated Acquisition Program (Navy and Marine Corps only) ACAT programs in the Navy and Marine Corps not otherwise designated as ACAT III or ACAT IV and which do not require Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E).

* FY14 constant dollars Source: Tailored from DODI 5000.02 Table 1 and ACQuipedia