A Nod To MOSA: Deeper Documenting of Architectures May Have Prevented Proposal Loss
Lockheed loses contract award protest in part due to insufficient Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) documentation.
On April 6th the GAO handed down a denial to Sikorsky-Boeing proposal protest of the Army tiltrotor award to Textron Bell team. This program is called the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) which is supposed to be a replacement for the Blackhawk helicopter. In reading the Decision from the GAO, it is apparent that there was a high degree of importance placed on using a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) as an architecture technique for the design and development. For example, the protest adjudication decision reveals, “…[o]ne of the methods used to ensure the offeror’s proposed approach to the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) weapon system meets the Army’s MOSA objectives was to evaluate the offeror’s functional architecture.” Sikorsky failed to “allocate system functions to functional areas of the system” in enough detail as recommended by the MOSA standard down to the subsystem level which is why they were given an Unacceptable in the engineering part of their proposal response.
MOSA will enable aerospace products and systems providers to not only demonstrate conformance to MOSA standards for their products but allow them to deliver additional MOSA-conformant products and variants more rapidly. By designing for open standards from the start, organizations can create best-in-class solutions while allowing the acquirer to enable cost savings and avoidance through reuse of technology, modules, or elements from any supplier via the acquisition lifecycle.
What is a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA)?
A Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) is a business and technical framework that is used to develop and acquire complex systems. MOSA emphasizes the use of modules that are designed to work together to create a system that is interoperable, flexible, and upgradeable. To do this MOSA’s key focus is designing modular interface commonality with the intent to reduce costs and enhance sustainability efforts.
More specifically, according to the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), “MOSA is seen as a technical design and business strategy used to apply open system concepts to the maximum extent possible, enabling incremental development, enhanced competition, innovation, and interoperability.”
Further, on January 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) issued a memo, signed by the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy, mandating the use of the Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA). The memo states that “MOSA supporting standards should be included in all requirements, programming and development activities for future weapon system modifications and new start development programs to the maximum extent possible.”
In fact, this mandate for MOSA is even codified into a United States law (Title 10 U.S.C. 2446a.(b), Sec 805) that states all major defense acquisition programs (MDAP) are to be designed and developed using a MOSA open architecture.
MOSA has become increasingly important to the DoD where complex systems such as weapons platforms and communication systems require a high level of interoperability and flexibility. Their main objective is to ensure systems are designed with highly cohesive, loosely coupled, and severable modules that can be competed separately and acquired from independent vendors. This allows the DoD to acquire systems, subsystems, and capabilities with increased level of flexibility of competition over previous proprietary programs. However, MOSA can also be applied to other industries, such as healthcare and transportation, where interoperability and flexibility are also important considerations.
The basic idea behind MOSA is to define architectures that are composed of more, more manageable modules that can be developed, tested, and integrated independently. Each module is designed to operate within a standard interface, allowing it to work with other modules and be easily replaced or upgraded.
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The DOD requires the following to be met to satisfy a MOSA architecture:
- Characterize the modularity of every weapons system — this means identifying, defining, and documenting system models and architectures so suppliers will know where to integrate their modules.
- Define software interfaces between systems and modules.
- Deliver the interfaces and associated documentation to a government repository.
And, according to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, “the 2021 NDAA and forthcoming guidance will require program officers to identify, define, and document every model, require interfaces for systems and the components they use, and deliver these modular system interfaces and associated documentation to a specific repository.”
- Modularize the system
- Specify what each component does and how it communicates
- Create interfaces for each system and component
- Document and share interface information with suppliers
MOSA implies the use of open standards and architectures, which are publicly available and can be used by anyone. This helps to reduce costs, increase competition, and encourage innovation.
Why is MOSA important to complex systems development?
MOSA, an important element of the national defense strategy, is important for complex systems development because it provides a framework for developing systems that are modular, interoperable, and upgradeable. Here are some reasons why MOSA is important:
- Interoperability: MOSA allows different components of a system to work together seamlessly, even if they are developed by different vendors or organizations. This means that the system can be upgraded or enhanced without having to replace the entire system.
- Flexibility: MOSA promotes the use of open standards and architectures, which allows for greater flexibility in system development. It also allows for more competition among vendors, which can lead to lower costs and better innovation.
- Cost-effectiveness: MOSA can reduce costs by allowing organizations to reuse existing components or develop new components that can be integrated into existing systems. It can also reduce the cost of maintenance and upgrades over the lifecycle of the system.
- Futureproofing: MOSA allows for systems to be upgraded or modified over time, as new technology becomes available. This helps to future-proof the system, ensuring that it can adapt to changing needs and requirements.
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How can Live Traceability™ in Jama Connect® help with a MOSA?
Live Traceability™ in Jama Connect® can help with MOSA by providing mechanisms to establish traces between MOSA architecture elements and interfaces, and the requirements and verification & validation data that support them. Live Traceability is the ability to track and record changes to data elements and their relationships in real-time. This information can be used to improve documenting system design, identify potential issues, and track changes over time.
Here are some specific ways that Live Traceability can help with MOSA:
- Status monitoring: Live Traceability allows systems engineers to monitor the progress of architecture definition in real-time, identifying issues from a requirements perspective as they arise. This can help to increase efficiency and ensure that the stakeholders are aware of changes as they occur.
- Digital Engineering: Live Traceability can help with digital engineering by providing mechanisms to capture architectures, requirements, risks, and tests including the traceability between individual elements.
- Configuration and Change Management: Live Traceability can help with change management by tracking changes to system architectures and interfaces including requirements that are allocated to them. This can help to ensure that changes are properly documented and that they do not impact other parts of the system. Baselining and automatic versioning enable snapshots in time that represent an agreed-upon, reviewed, and approved set of data that have been committed to a specific milestone, phase, or release.
- Testing and Validation: Live Traceability can help with verification and validation to ensure that system meets specified requirements and needs. This can help reduce risk by identifying issues early in the development process and ensuring that the system meets its requirements.
- Future-proofing: Live Traceability can help to future-proof the system by providing a record of system changes and modifications over time. This can help to ensure that the system remains flexible and adaptable to changing needs and requirements.
In summary, Live Traceability in Jama Connect can help with MOSA by providing real-time visibility into the traceability between architectures, interfaces, and requirements. It can help to improve documenting the system design, identify potential issues, and track changes over time, which are all important considerations for MOSA.