The Alphabet Soup of Federal Contracting

Alphabet Soup of Federal ContractingA day in the life of a contract surety underwriter almost always includes wading through dozens of acronyms in bid documents and contracts. There are acronyms for special designations that define groups for which work is specially set aside. There are acronyms for the type of proposal requested and how the contract works. What follows is a handy reference chart of some common acronyms used in federal government contracts for anyone not familiar with these terms.

8A – An 8(a) business is a small business at least 51% owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, as certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

BABAA – Build America, Buy American Act. Many federal government contracts contain a requirement that whenever possible materials should be sourced from US-based companies.

CO – Contracting Officer. This acronym can also stand for “Change Order” or “Commanding Officer.” Sometimes the contracting officer is referred to as the “KO.”

DBE – Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. This is a for-profit small business where socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least 51% of the firm and control management and daily operations. This designation is certified by the US Department of Transportation.

FAR – Federal Acquisition Regulation

FUBAR – This one originated in the military in World War II,   and it is not actually going to be found in any contract, but it may be heard often. It stands for Fouled Up (or something like that) Beyond All Recognition/Repair. It is to be used when things don’t go right. See SNAFU.

GSA – General Services Administration

HZB – HUBZone is a business that operates and employs people in a historically underutilized business zone. This designation is certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

IDIQ – Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity. This is a contract in which the work is awarded to the contractor in the form of individual task orders.

JOC – Job Order Contract

LD’s – Liquidated Damages.  This is a predetermined dollar amount of damages to be paid per day as a penalty if the contract is not delivered on time.  

MATOC – Multiple Award Task Order Contract

MBE – A minority business enterprise is a business that is at least 51% owned by minority individuals. This designation is certified by the National Minority Supplier Development Council.

RFI – Request for Information

RFP – Request for proposal

RFQ – Request for quote

SABER contract – Used by the US Air Force, the acronym stands for “Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineering Requirements”. The main purpose of these contracts is to expedite the award of certain maintenance and repair work projects.

SATOC – Single award task order contract

SBA – Small Business Administration

SBE – A Small Business Enterprise is a small business as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

SDVOSB – Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business. The designation   of Service-Disabled Veteran is certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

SNAFU – This one has become part of common language, and many users are unaware of what the acronym stands for. Situation Normal; All Fouled Up.

WBE – A Woman-Owned Business Enterprise is at least 51% owned or controlled by more one or more women who are U.S. citizens or legal residents, as certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

Although this is a list of common acronyms, it is by no means a comprehensive one.

Both the SBA’s regulations and the Federal Acquisition Regulation require certain public owners to consider SBA socio-economic programs first for set-aside and sole-source contracts for more than $250,000. There is no order of preference among the programs. The SBA socio-economic programs are 8(a), HUBZone, WBE or SDVOSB contractors.

At Old Republic Surety we underwrite and support all types of contracts for our contractor clientele. If you have any questions about a contract or would like clarification or a deeper understanding of a set-aside program or contract terminology, we invite you to contact your local Old Republic contract surety underwriter.

Darrel Lamb, CPCU, AFSB

Darrel Lamb leads Old Republic Surety's West Region surety operation in all facets of contract surety including business development, underwriting, marketing, agency management, strategic vision, operations, compliance, and employee development. Territory includes Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska, California, and Utah. Darrel has over 30 years of proven success and is skilled in developing relationships with internal and external stakeholders to drive superior business results.