Government Contracting Glossary of Terms and Acronyms

From SAM to winning a government contract here’s a list of common acronyms and terms in the Government Contracting World.

This is a living document and is regularly updated. If there’s a term you' need help on but it’s not on here, please email us at and we’ll help you out and get it up on our glossary.

ACO - Administrative Contracting Officer
The contracting officer will delegate contract administration functions to an ACO (Administrative Contracting Officer).

BAFO - Best and Final Offer
For negotiated procurements, a contractor's final offer following the conclusion of discussions/negotiations.

BOA - Basis of Award
A Basic Ordering Agreement is a written instrument of understanding, negotiated between an agency, contracting activity, or contracting office and a contractor, that contains (1) terms and clauses applying to future contracts (orders) between the parties during its term, (2) a description, as specific as practicable, of supplies or services to be provided, and (3) methods for pricing, issuing, and delivering future orders under the basic ordering agreement. A basic ordering agreement is not a contract.

BPA - Blanket Purchase Agreement
An arrangement under which a purchaser contracts with a vendor to provide the purchaser's requirements for an item(s) or a service, on an as-required and over-the-counter basis. Properly prepared, such an arrangement sets a limit on the period of time it is valid and the maximum amount of money that may be spent at one time or within a specified period and specifically identifies these persons authorized to accept goods. Also called a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA).

CAGE - The Commercial and Government Entity
CAGE code is a five-character ID number used extensively within the Federal government and administered by Defense Logistics Information Service (DLIS).

CAV - Contractor Assistance Visit
Cursory compliance assessment intended to identify potential administrative and compliance issues

CCR - Central Contractor Registration (now part of SAM)
Is a federal entity with which vendors can register to do business with the Federal government. It is the primary vendor database for the U.S. federal government.  Vendors must update or renew their registration annually to maintain an active status.

CDM - Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation
Consistent with the Federal Government's deployment of Information Security Continuous Monitoring (ISCM), the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) Program is a dynamic approach to fortifying the cybersecurity of government networks and systems.

CO or KO - Contracting Officer
Is a person who can bind the Federal Government of the United States to a contract that is greater than the Micro-Purchase threshold. This is limited to the scope of authority delegated to the Contracting Officer by the head of the agency.

COMSATCOM - Commercial Satellite Communications 
They allow people to communicate by telephone over vast distances and relay television and radio signals to the ground for entertainment purposes.

COR - Contracting Officer’s Representative 
An individual, including a contracting officer’s technical representative (COTR), designated and authorized in writing by the contracting officer to perform specific technical or administrative functions.

CPARS - Contractor Performance Assessment Review System
Assesses a contractor's performance and provides a record, both positive and negative, on a given contractor during a specific period of time.

CTA - Contractor Teaming Arrangement 
Involves two or more companies combining resources to bid on a government contract

D&B - Dun & Bradstreet
Is a corporation that offers information on commercial credit as well as reports on businesses.

DAR - Defense Acquisition Regulation
Develops and maintains acquisition rules and guidance to facilitate the Acquisition workforce as they acquire the goods and services DoD requires to ensure America's Warfighters continued worldwide success.

DFARS - Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations Supplement
supplement to the FAR that provides DoD-specific acquisition regulations that DoD government acquisition officials – and those contractors doing business with DoD – must follow in the procurement process for goods and services.

DOD - Department of Defense
The military branch of the U.S. government, which is under the direction of the Secretary of Defense, the primary defense policy adviser to the President.

DUNS - Data Universal Numbering System
The 9-digit number assigned by Dun and Bradstreet, Inc. (D&B), to identify unique business entities, which is used as the identification number for Federal contractors.

EPA - Economic Price Adjustment
Provides for upward and downward revision of the stated contract price upon the occurrence of specified contingencies. 

EPLS - Excluded Parties List System (now part of SAM)
Was a database maintained by the General Services Administration (GSA) an independent U.S. government agency, established in 1949, to help manage Federal agencies.

eSRS - Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System
Provides the government with insight as to how its contracting dollars are being distributed among small and disadvantaged businesses.

FAR - Federal Acquisition Regulation
The body of regulations that are the primary sources of authority governing the Federal government procurement process.

FAS - Federal Acquisition Service
Provides comprehensive solutions for products and services across the government. GSA assists with procurement work for other government agencies. As part of this effort, it maintains the large GSA Schedules, which other agencies can use to buy goods and services.

FBO - Federal Business Opportunities (also known as FedBizOpps)
Is the single government point-of-entry (GPE) for Federal government procurement opportunities over $25,000.

FFP - Firm Fixed Price 
A type of contract that provides for a firm price or, under appropriate circumstances, for an adjustable price for the supplies or services being procured.  This type of contract typically places the greater risk on the contractor.

FOIA - Freedom of Information Act
Provides that information is to be made available to the public either by publishing it in the Federal Register, providing an opportunity to read and copy records at convenient locations, or upon request, providing a copy of a reasonable described record.

FPDS - Federal Procurement Data System
Is a single source for US government-wide procurement data. Is part of the U.S. General Services Administration.

FPR - Final Proposal Revision
Is a change to a proposal made after the solicitation closing date, at the request of or as allowed by a contracting officer, as the result of negotiations. “Weakness” means a flaw in the proposal that increases the risk of unsuccessful contract performance.

FSC - Federal Supply Class
Codes are used to group products into logical families for management purposes. The four-digit fields, (defined within Cataloging Handbook H2-1) are used to group standardization documents and their products   into logical families.

G&A - General and Administrative (G&A) Expense
Any management, financial, and other expense which is incurred by or allocated to a business unit and which   is for the general management and administration of the business unit as a whole.

GAO - Government Accountability Office
Is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress.

GPA - Government Procurement Agreement
Is a plurilateral agreement under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that entered into force in 1981

GSA - General Services Administration 
An independent agency of the United States government, was established in 1949 to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies.

GWAC - Government Wide Acquisition Contract
A task-order or delivery-order contract for information technology established by one agency for Government-wide use.

HUBZone - Historically Underutilized Business Zone
A historically underutilized business zone that is an area located within one or more qualified census tracts, qualified nonmetropolitan counties, lands within the external boundaries of an Indian reservation, qualified base closure areas, or re-designated areas.  HUBZone is granted based on Median Household Income (MHI) and Unemployment Rate (UR) thresholds.

IDIQ - Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity
A type of contract in which the exact date of delivery or the exact quantity are not specified until a delivery or task order is issued.

IFF - Industrial Funding Fee
Is a fee to cover GSA's cost of operating the Federal Supply Schedules (FSS) program. This fee is a fixed percentage of reported sales under GSA &VA Schedule contracts that is paid quarterly by contractors.

ISR - Individual Subcontracting Report
Is the former SF-294. Large Business Subcontractors are required to submit the ISR to the Large Business whom awarded them the contract within eSRS.

LOS - Letter of Supply
If a company wants to procure a GSA Schedule Contract, but does not manufacture that goods it sells a Letter of Supply (LOS) becomes a requirement.

MAC - Multi-Agency Contract 
A task-order or delivery-order contract established by one agency for use by Government agencies to obtain supplies and services

MAS - Multiple Award Schedule
Under MAS contracts, GSA awards contracts to multiple companies supplying comparable services and products at varying prices. The FSS operates over 100 different schedules covering most product and service categories.

MFC - Most Favored Customer
Is a contractual arrangement between vendor and customer that guarantees the customer the best price the vendor gives to anyone. The MFC prevents a company from treating different customers differently in negotiations.

NAICS - North American Industrial Classification Standard
Is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy.

NDAA - National Defense Authorization Act
Is the name for each of a series of United States federal laws specifying the annual budget and expenditures of the U.S. Department of Defense.

OCONUS - Outside Continental United States
Refers to geographic locations outside the contiguous 48 United States and the District of Columbia. Alaska and Hawaii are considered OCONUS.

ODC - Other Direct Costs
Are those budget line items that support performing the scope of work and are reasonable, easily identifiable and allocable to the project.

ORCA - Online Representations and Certifications Application (now part of SAM)
The former Government repository for contractor submitted representations and certifications required for the conduct of business with the Government.  It has been replaced by SAM.

PBA - Performance-Based Acquisition
An acquisition structured around the results to be achieved as opposed to the manner by which the work is to be performed

PCO - Procurement Contracting Officer
To issue legal contracts between the US Government and the contracting entity.

PO - Purchase Order
An offer by the Government to buy supplies or services, including construction and research and development, upon specified terms and conditions, using simplified acquisition procedures.

PPIRS - Past Performance Information Retrieval System
Is a web-enabled, enterprise application that provides timely and pertinent contractor past performance information to the Department of Defense and Federal acquisition community for use in making source selection decisions

PRC - Price Reduction Clause
Ensures a fixed relationship between the discounting practices offered by a contractor to GSA and the discounts offered by the same contractor to its “Basis of Award customer”.

PSS - Professional Services Schedule
Is an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) multiple award schedule, providing direct access to simple or complex fixed-price or labor-hour professional services. 

PTAC - Procurement Technical Assistance Center
The Defense Logistics Agency, on behalf of the Secretary of Defense, administers the DoD Procurement Technical Assistance (PTAC) Cooperative Agreement Program. PTA Centers are designed to be a local resource available to provide assistance to business firms in marketing products and services to government.

PWS - Performance Work Statement
A statement of work for performance-based acquisitions that describes the required results in clear,   specific and objective terms with measurable outcomes.

QAP - Quality Assurance Plan
Is a document, constructed by the project team, meant to ensure the final products are of the utmost quality - contains a set of documented activities meant to ensure that customers are satisfied with the goods or services a company provides.

QPL - Qualified Products List 
A list of products that have been examined, tested, and have satisfied all applicable qualification requirements.

RFI - Request for Information
Is a standard business process whose purpose is to collect written information about the capabilities of various suppliers. Normally it follows a format that can be used for comparative purposes.

RFP - Request for Proposal
All documents, whether attached or incorporated by reference, utilized for soliciting proposals; the government RFP process usually requires negotiation with offerers as distinguished from competitive bidding when using an invitation for bids.

RFQ - Request for Quote
Is a type of procurement solicitation in which a company asks outside vendors to submit a quote for the completion of a specific task or project.

SAM - System for Award Management
Is a Federal Government owned and operated free website that consolidates the capabilities in CCR/FedReg, ORCA, and EPLS. SAM is used by anyone interested in the business of the Federal Government, including: Public users searching for government business information.

SAT - Simplified Acquisition Threshold
The simplified acquisition threshold is set by the Federal Acquisition Regulation at 48 CFR Subpart 2.1 (Definitions) and in accordance with 41 U.S.C. 1908.

SBA - Small Business Administration
Is an U.S. government agency established in 1953 to promote the economy in general by providing assistance to small businesses. One of the largest functions of the SBA is the provision of counseling to aid individuals trying to start and grow businesses

SCA - Service Contract Act
Is a federal statute which controls the aspect of service contracts entered into between individuals or companies and the federal government, including the District of Columbia, for the contractors to engage “service employees.”

SCLS - Service Contract Labor Standards
Requires contractors and subcontractors performing services on prime contracts in excess of $2,500 to pay service employees in various classes no less than the wage rates and fringe benefits found prevailing in the locality, or the rates (including prospective increases)

SDVOSB - Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business
Is a company diversity registration which designates that a company is owned and operated by a veteran who suffered a disability while in the military service.

SIC - Standard Industrial Classification
Is a system for classifying industries by a four-digit code. Established in the United States in 1937, it is used by government agencies to classify industry areas. 

SIN - Special Item Number
Lists GSA contractor service and/or product requirements) SIN.

SIP - Schedule Input ProgramIs a proprietary software program provided by GSA to   assist contract holders with uploading their electronic catalog onto GSA. 

SOW - Statement of Work
That portion of the contract that clearly and concisely defines requirements of the specific work to be accomplished. Statements of work are individually tailored to consider the period of performance, deliverable items, if any, and the desired degree of performance flexibility. In the case of task-order contracts, the statement of work for the basic contract only defines the scope of the overall contract in general terms. The statement of work for each task order must articulate the specific requirement.

SSQ - Schedule Sales Query
Enables you to easily access the sales, business size and NAICS information reported by our Federal Supply Schedule Contractors.

SSR - Summary Subcontracting Report
This report is submitted to Federal Government agencies by organizations that have an approved company-wide annual subcontracting plan for commercial items with specific requirements.

T&C - Terms and Conditions
Applied to the rules under which all bids/proposals must be submitted and the stipulations included in most purchase contracts; often published by the purchasing authorities for the information of all potential vendors.

T4C - Termination for Convenience
The exercise of the Government’s right to completely or partially terminate performance of work under a contract when it is in the Government’s interest.

T4D - Termination for Default
The exercise of the Government’s right to completely or partially terminate a contract because of the contractor’s actual or anticipated failure to perform its contractual obligations.

TAA - Trade Agreements Act
Is an Act of Congress that governs trade agreements negotiated between the United States and other countries under the Trade Act of 1974.

TO - Task Order
An order for services placed against an established contract or with Government sources.

USC - United States Code
Is the official compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal statutes of theUnited States.

VA - Department of Veterans Affairs
The second-largest cabinet department, the VA coordinates the distribution of benefits for veterans of the American armed forces and their dependents. The benefits include compensation for disabilities, the management of veterans' hospitals, and various insurance programs.

VOSB - Veteran-Owned Small-Business
Is a company diversity registration designated under the Veteran Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-461). ... The application will be reviewed and the business will be evaluated for eligibility.

VSC - Vendor Support Center
They can also provide vendors with the name of the local Customer Service Director, who can provide prompt, direct, personalized access to government and military customers in helping to meet their needs via GSA solutions.

WAWF - Wide Area Workflow
WAWF is a Web-based application that allows DoD Vendors to submit and track their invoices, receipts and acceptance documents electronically. WAWF provides three methods for submission: the Internet, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

WOSB - Woman-Owned Small Business
Woman-Owned Business Enterprise is defined as one that is at least 51% owned, operated and controlled on a daily basis by one or more female American citizens. WBEs are typically certified by a third-party, city, state or federal agency.

WTO - World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations.