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Office of the Under Secretary of Defense
for Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S)

Key Leadership Positions

On November 8, 2013, USD(AT&L) provided guidance on qualifying Key Leadership Positions (KLP) in the Department of Defense (DoD). It is critical to the success of the Department’s acquisition programs that positions assigned to Major Defense Acquisition Programs and each Major Automated Information System (MAIS) (Acquisition Category (ACAT) I and IA) programs be filled properly by a qualified member of the Armed Forces or full-time employees of the DoD. KLPs have tenure obligations, require Defense Acquisition Corps membership, and Level III Certification. KLPs are filled by O-5/O-6 military personnel or GS-14/15 (or higher) civilian personnel.

Positions listed below are designated as mandatory KLPs for ACAT I and IA programs:

  • Program Executive Officer / Deputy Program Executive Officer
  • Senior Contracting Official
  • Program Manager
  • Deputy Program Manager
  • Chief Engineer / Lead Systems Engineer
  • Product Support Manager (Program Lead Logistician)
  • Chief Developmental Tester
  • Program Lead, Business Financial Manager
  • As Required:

    • Program Lead, Contracting Officer
    • Program Lead, Cost Estimator
    • Program Lead, Production, Quality, and Manufacturing
    • Program Lead, Information Technology

Joint KLP Qualification Board

The Joint KLP Qualification Board process establishes a standard of excellence across the DoD to identify individuals who are qualified to occupy highly demanding key leader positions. The Qualification Board is chaired and governed by the Acquisition Community Functional Leader and identifies individuals prepared to fill mandatory KLPs (listed above) based on their training, education, and experience. Each Qualification Board will convene at a minimum annually or as often as the Functional Leader deems necessary. It functions independently from normal promotion, command or selection boards. The Qualification Board will allow the DoD and Component’s Acquisition leadership to form a pool of Level III certified personnel ready to fill KLPs.


If you have any questions, please contact HCI at or 703-805-3761.