Building Configuration Baselines

A frequent question is how can I or my product team create and place configuration baseline documents in government solicitations? Many Data Item Descriptions (DIDs) and standards formerly used to create the documents that defined the functional and physical requirements of a system were deleted by acquisition reform efforts (these documents were formerly referred to as "A", "B", & "C" specifications). Today, the source documents for such configuration baseline specifications, drawings, etc. include the following:

MIL-DTL-31000, Detail Specification: Technical Data Packages

MIL-STD-961, DoD Standard Practice for Defense Specifications

MIL-STD-961, which defines DoD specification practices, has a simple philosphy, which can be summarized as follows:

  1. Use performance specifications.
  2. If it is not practical to use a performance specification, then use a non-Government standard.
  3. As a last resort, a detail specification may be developed and used. (But you will get an argument and you had best be prepared to defend your position!)
MIL-STD-961, which has replaced several cancelled MIL documents, including MIL-STD-973, MIL-STD-490, MIL-STD-483, etc. defines performance specifications as follows:

"3.29 Performance Specification. A specification that states requirements in terms of the required results with criteria for verifying compliance, but without stating the methods for achieving the required results. A performance specification defines the functional requirements for the item, the environment in which it must operate, and interface and interchangeability characteristics."

The current approved DIDs, which may be used to create configuration baseline documents, and thereby define system requirements, (and which have MIL-STD-961 as their source document) are as follows:

DI-SDMP-81465 Performance Specification Documents

DI-SDMP-81464 Detail Specification Documents

You can use these DIDs in your solicitation, and can cite MIL-DTL-31000B and MIL-STD-961 in your Statement of Objectives (SOO) or Statement of Work (SOW), as these are approved for use by DoD. Keep in mind that if you do use these documents in your contract solicitation, it is a good practice to tailor (edit) them so as to only include essential requirements.

If the government team is going to be writing the performance specification for the solicitation (sometimes referred to as a "Technical Requirements Document), then it is critical that the document be "performance-oriented" in nature. That is, it should only contain essential performance requirements. Any detail type requirements, such as dimensions or weights, should be mission-related, and should be so stated. For example,

"The ABC system must be transportable by the standard commercial 747, 757 and 767 aircraft." Or, "The ABC System must be transportable by a standard commercial Class III truck/tractor-trailer."

It is also critical that all interface, interoperability, and other mission essential standard type information be cited. For example:

"Software must comply with the current version of the World Wide Web Consortium XML standard." Or, "The system must comply with current FCC standards."



Finding Documents to Manage Configuration Baselines

Are you Looking for DoD and Federal Acquisition documents, especially those pesky DIDs! If you have an account with the DLA ASSIST database, then please visit it and use their comprehensive search tool. The ASSIST database is extremely comprehensive and has virtually all Data Item Descriptions, Federal and Military Standards & Handbooks, and other similiar documents. If you don't have an ASSIST account or are having other difficulties finding a DID, standard, etc., then please check out the buttons below:



The tables below contain links to several Data Item Descriptions (DIDs) that can be used to create configuration management baselines. These documents cover both systems and subsystems, and are relevant to software and firmware. The same principles of tailoring mentioned above also apply when using these documents.

Configuration Baseline Documents

Software Requirements Specification
DI-IPSC-81433A
Software Design Description
DI-IPSC-81435A
Software Product Specification
DI-IPSC-81441A
Software Version Description
DI-IPSC-81442A
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