MIL-HDBK-61A: CM Life Cycle Management and Planning

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4.1 General

A basic principle of management is that responsibility, unlike authority, can not be delegated. The Government Activity and especially its Configuration Manager have the responsibility to ensure that the operating forces are provided with correctly "configured" hardware, software, and the information necessary to operate and maintain them effectively. Regardless of the acquisition concept employed, this responsibility cannot be delegated, nor can it be taken lightly.

The documentation acquired by the Government and the degree of Government detailed involvement in configuration change decisions varies with the acquisition approach being utilized. In the past, contractual imposition of a CM military standard assured that a contractor employed CM practices, and could be held accountable through audit, oversight and other surveillance methods. The Government typically assumed control of configuration documentation in three progressive stages (Functional, Allocated, and Product baselines). The control consisted of Government CCB approval of any Class I Changes and Government concurrence in Class II changes [Details Section 6], typically by DCMCrepresentatives. By assuming direct control of the baselines the Government could prevent changes that were not beneficial, could not be supported, or were too costly. The Government configuration manager fulfilled his responsibility through a great deal of hands-on management and detailed decision making.

To reduce the cost of weapon system acquisition, relieve the cost premium on contractors for doing Government business, facilitate a common commercial/Government industrial base, and solve the problems relating to equipment obsolescence, Government acquisition practices were revised to adopt industry practices and to include acquisition based primarily on performance specifications. In a performance based acquisition, the Government controls only the specified performance and the critical interfaces of the item, leaving the design solution and its implementation to the contractor. [Details Section 5] Only where absolutely necessary will the Government assume configuration control of the product baseline (the design solution). [Details Section 6] In addition, there will be no military standard CM requirements or practices with which a contractor must comply. The industry standard for CM, EIA-649 is a guidance document which cites CM principles and best practices; each design activity is required to establish, document and execute a CM process that addresses the CM principles and practices that are applicable to their products.

This new approach relieves the Government configuration manager of the burden of much of the hands-on configuration change control processing of change proposals at the detailed design level, described above, but it does not relieve his/her responsibility to the operating forces. The changes in acquisition methods and strategies have no changed the activities to be accomplished as part of the configuration management process.

Given the differences in acquisition concept, and the variations which will occur from program to program, the CM responsibility must be fulfilled using flexible, adaptive and mature management methods. Planning and management techniques are the key to effective implementation of CM. This section describes management activities including planning for, and selecting the key actions to implement (and measure the effectiveness of) configuration identification, control, status accounting and audit, throughout the program life cycle. In describing these key actions, the interfaces to be established and the information needed to perform the actions are identified.

Acquisition methods and strategies often drive the determination of the degrees and levels to which Government and contractor configuration management is applied. There are many options which must be determined during the planning and preparation for an acquisition phase, and definitized in the contract language. This section provides rationale, based on benefit to risk considerations, to help in making appropriate choices.

Sections 5 through 9 (which reflect the major CM functions) reference implementation concepts and details by pointing to specific supporting information found in Appendices. For example, Contents of a Government CM plan are delineated in Appendix A. The reader is encouraged to use Section 4 as the home base, from which to return after looking up specifics in other sections or appendices.


For correct application of this information, see NOTE on Contents page