In February 2004, The Office of the Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Logistics Plans and Programs (LPP) office tasked Navy to serve as the DoD's Executive Director for Automatic Test Systems.  In June 2004, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Logistics) in turn tasked the Naval Air Systems Command PMA260, the Aviation Support Equipment Program Manager, to serve as the ATS Executive Directorate and continue to perform the ATS functions previously performed as the DoD Executive Agent for Automatic Test Systems.

The ATS ED's mission is to implement a coordinated program throughout the Department of Defense (DoD) for Automatic Test Systems acquisition and research& development. The goal of the DoD ATS ED is to reduce the total cost of ATS to DoD while defining ways to use commercial products on the market and preserving our legacy investments in Test Program Sets. To achieve this goal, the ATS ED had four initial tasks: (1) minimize unique types of ATS within DoD, (2) define and manage the ATS Open Systems Approach, (3) coordinate the convergence and modernization of ATS inventory, and (4) provide ATS management tools and lessons learned.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense has provided guidance to minimize unique types of Automatic Test Systems being introduced into the DoD inventory by using designated DoD ATS Families.

The intent is to define an acquisition environment that makes DoD the smartest, most responsive buyer of the best goods or services that meet our warfighters' needs at the best dollar value over the life of the product. A major theme is to emphasize the use of commercial products. The new acquisition policy is implemented in the area of Automatic Test Systems by: (1) leveraging non-recurring investments already made in ATS Families across multiple applications, (2) evolving the capabilities of these Families of ATS by migrating their content towards industry-wide standards, (3) facilitating intra- and inter-service level interoperability by encouraging common and interoperable support solutions, (4) encouraging the use of commercial items that meet defined ATS capabilities within ATS Families and as ATS alternatives by promulgating an open architecture based on commercial standards, and (5) maintaining legacy Test Program Sets.

There are several ATS publications that have been developed to aid the DoD program manager. The ATS Acquisition Guide is a just-plain-English handbook for the DoD PM who is considering an ATS acquisition. The ATS Selection Process Guide provides processes and tools to help Program Managers with their ATS selection. In addition, the ED publishes an ATS Master Plan which addresses the implementation of the DoD ATS acquisition policy and investment strategy, and summarizes DoD ATS R&D plans. With the publication in September 2004 of a new Joint Services ATS Memorandum of Agreement among the Service Acquisition Executives, these documents are in process of revision.

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