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Open Systems Architecture (OSA)

An Open Systems Architecture (OSA) approach integrates business and technical practices that yield systems with severable modules which can be competed. A system constructed in this way allows vendor-independent acquisition of warfighting capabilities, including the intentional creation of interoperable Enterprise-wide reusable components. Successful OSA acquisitions result in reduced total ownership cost and can be quickly customized, modified, and extended throughout the product life cycle in response to changing user requirements. For more information, visit the Naval OSA website at
The essence of OSA is organized decompositions of complex systems, using carefully defined execution boundaries, layered onto a framework of software and hardware shared services, and a vibrant business model that facilitates competition. It requires publishing of key interfaces within the system and design disclosure. A key enabler for OSA is the adoption of an open business model which requires doing business in a transparent way that leverages the collaborative innovation potential of numerous participants across the enterprise, permitting shared risk, maximized asset reuse, and reduced total ownership costs.
OSA yields modular, interoperable systems which more easily support component addition, modification, or replacement by different vendors throughout the lifecycle, driving opportunities for enhanced competition and innovation. OSA is composed of five fundamental principles:

1. Modular designs based on standards, with loose coupling and high cohesion, that allow for independent acquisition of system components;
2. Enterprise investment strategies, based on collaboration and trust, that maximize reuse of proven hardware system designs and ensure we spend the least to get the best;
3. Transformation of the life cycle sustainment strategies for software intensive systems through proven technology insertion and software product upgrade techniques;
4. Dramatically lower development risk through transparency of system designs, continuous design disclosure, and Government, academia, and industry peer reviews; and
5. Strategic use of data rights to ensure a level competitive playing field and access to alternative solutions and sources, across the life cycle.

Following an Executive Committee Meeting (EXCOMM), the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition (ASN (RDA)) published an Open Architecture (OA) Policy on 5 August 2004 which established a cross-Warfare Domain OA Enterprise Team with clear goals for establish OA principles consistently throughout the Naval Enterprise. In November 2012, ASN (RDA) signed out the Naval Open Systems Architecture Strategy (, which calls for an iterative set of business and technical changes pointing to an end state where affordable, open platforms easily accommodate open modules.
In April 2013, the Under Secretary for Defense, Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD(AT&L)) specifically referred to OSA in Better Buying Power 2.0 ( The initiative to Promote Effective Competition calls for enforcing increased use of OSA across the Department of Defense.
Point Of Contact
Office of Corporate Communication (SEA 00D)
Naval Sea Systems Command
Washington, D.C. 20376
Last Update: 18 December 2013