“Currently the Cost Analysis Requirements Description (CARD) requires significant effort by program management offices to develop lengthy narrative documents to support preparation of cost estimates at program milestone decision points. The DoD cost community has worked jointly to develop new CARD guidance and templates that strike a balance between competing objectives: the need for detailed data, versus the workload of program offices managing acquisition programs. A balance is struck through a focus on workbook templates to facilitate standardized program data collection, supplemented as appropriate with narrative sections of reduced scope.
Consistent with existing DoD directives and instructions, CARD updates shall now be required annually to update the program description for each major defense acquisition program. These updates will be facilitated with the CAPE templates found on the CADE public website. The annual CARD updates will serve to improve analyses prepared for both the resource allocation and acquisition communities of the Department, as well as Congress. The extensive use of workbook templates will enable the rapid generation of annual updates through revision of only the program parameters that have changed from the prior submission. CARDs shall be stored electronically by CAPE on the Cost Assessment Data Enterprise website for access by all government personnel in the DoD cost community.”
-DoD Cost Analysis Improvement Memo, January 9, 2017
The CARD document is a complete, detailed description of a DoD program for use in preparing an independent cost estimate (ICE), program office estimate (POE), DoD Component cost estimate (CCE), DoD Component cost position (CCP), or other cost estimate, as required. The foundation of a sound cost estimate is a well-defined program, and the CARD is used to provide that foundation. The CARD succinctly describes the key technical, programmatic, operational, and sustainment characteristics of a program, along with supporting data sources, and provides all of the program information necessary to develop a cost estimate. By using the CARD, different organizations preparing cost estimates can develop their estimates based on the same understanding of program requirements. As a program evolves and its costs and funding needs change, the CARD, as a living document, evolves with it.
On June 18, 2015, the Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) signed and issued “Cost Analysis Requirements Description (CARD) Interim Policy” to provide interim CARD policy guidance following the issuance of the new DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5000.73. On January 9, 2017, CAPE signed and issued the memorandum “DoD Cost Analysis Data Improvement” which identifies this website as the source for current CARD policies and procedures. Below you will find a link to the current “Guidelines for the Preparation and Maintenance of the Cost Analysis Requirements Description” effective January 9, 2017.
This CARD guidance strikes a balance between competing objectives: the need for detailed data for program cost estimating purposes and the workload of program offices managing acquisition programs. A balance is struck through a focus on workbook templates to facilitate standardized program data collection supplemented as appropriate with a reduced scope narrative section. This format allows for quick updating of primarily tabular data as opposed to the lengthy narrative documents currently submitted. CARDs will be stored electronically by CAPE on the Cost Assessment Data Enterprise website for access by all members of the DoD cost community.
Prior to this update, CARDs were required to support preparation of cost estimates at program milestone decisions. To support DoD Component cost agencies’ annual program estimates, CARD updates are now required annually to document the program defined in the annual service estimates. The extensive use of workbook templates allows for rapid generation of the annual updates through updating of only changed program parameters from the previous submission.
Acquisition Category (ACAT) I programs approaching milestone decisions after September 1, 2017, must follow the format specified in the attached guidelines. A program approaching a milestone prior to September 1, 2017, is encouraged to comply with the attached guidelines in lieu of the interim guidelines. All ACAT I programs are required to submit annual CARDs by October 1, 2017.
This guidance document provides CARD preparation and content guidelines generally applicable to all DoD acquisition programs. As a guidance document, however, it cannot prescribe the process and CARD content for every scenario in the inception-to-retirement lifecycles of all DoD programs. It is critical for the interests of the Department of Defense, considering the importance of sound cost estimates to the Defense Acquisition System and DoD programming and budgeting processes, that acquisition program offices act on the intent of these guidelines. Program offices must demonstrate a bias towards providing more rather than less description and data, and seeing more rather than fewer occasions as meriting a CARD update or expansion.
The CARD is composed of a narrative and a workbook. Ideally, the narrative of the CARD, not including tables and figures, should be approximately 20 pages in length. To maximize efficiency, template workbooks for each commodity, tailored to collect significant portions of data on the general program and specific technical, operations and support, and disposal information, have been defined.
The CARD Tables describe the key technical, programmatic, and operational characteristics of an acquisition program using concise tabular entries. These tables amplify the CARD narrative to provide the minimum essential information necessary to support the preparation of life-cycle cost estimates.
To accomplish this, the CARD tables have 18 tabular sections broken into two categories, those common to all commodities and those that are prime mission product unique. Tabs common across all commodities include: Program, Milestone, Acquisition, Quantity and O&S Time Phased, Manpower, and Metadata. Tabs that are prime mission product unique include PMP Hardware Technical, Non-Hardware Technical, and Configuration Tables.
The document, “Guidelines for the Preparation and Maintenance of CARD Tables”, provides guidance for the preparation and maintenance of CARD Tables pursuant to “Guidelines for the Preparation and Maintenance of the Cost Analysis Requirements Description.”
While it will be up to each Service on how to conduct the necessary training within their respective Service, the current version of the "CARD Training" slides and narrative that the AF has generated is referenced below.
Need to contact Service and CAPE POCS, email us at CADE Help Desk.