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Several government and independent studies indicate effective systems engineering and program planning in the early stages of acquisition are essential to controlling costs and improving program results. To lay the foundation for successful and executable programs, This article describes the challenge of conducting good systems engineering and technical planning during the Materiel Solution Analysis (MSA) phase after completion of the Analysis of Alternatives and prior to Milestone A. It also presents the work of the Department of Defense Development Planning Working Group to mitigate this challenge by describing the technical activities in the MSA phase necessary to develop the level of knowledge and system concept maturity necessary to proceed into the next phase of acquisition. These technical activities are represented in a notional MSA Phase Activity Model.