Glossary of Defense Contracting Terms (A)

This Glossary provides you with the most frequently used terms in government and military base contracting. Familiarity with the language of government contracting is essential for doing business with the Department of Defense (DoD) and working with contracting offices at military bases and DoD agencies.  You may also find it helpful to use our master list of Acronyms frequently used in DoD contracting



A      B      C      D      E      F      G      H      I      J      K      L      M      N      O      P     Q     R      S      T      U      V     W      X-Y-Z  

View ACRONYMS used in Defense Contracting


ACCEPTANCE   The act of an authorized representative of the government by which the government, for itself or as agent of another, assumes ownership of existing identified supplies tendered, or approves specific services rendered, as partial or complete performance of the contract on the part of the contractor.

ACCEPTANCE PERIOD  The number of calendar days available to the Government for awarding a contract from the date specified in the solicitation for receipt of offers.

ACQUISITION  The process of purchasing goods and services for government activity that includes a detailed establishment of the required materials, method of procurement, solicitation, financing, a selection of sources, contract management and other functions.

APPROPRIATION  Money from public funds that has been set aside for a specific purpose.

AWARD  Any mechanism signed by a contracting officer providing government funds or other resources to an offeror.

8(a) CONTRACT   A contract with the Small Business Administration under a program established by Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act. Under that program, the Small Business Administration is authorized to enter into all types of contracts with other agencies and let subcontracts for performing those contracts to firms eligible for program participation.

ACCEPTANCE OF (OFFER / WORK)  The act of an authorized representative of the Government by which the Government, for itself or as agent of another, assumes ownership of existing identified supplies tendered or approves specific services rendered as partial or complete performance of the contract.

ACCEPTANCE TIME  A definite period of time that one party to a negotiation has to accept an offer by another party. Instead of forcing a quick decision, this tactic can be used to deliberately give the other negotiator more time to grasp a solution or ideas.

 ACQUISITION PLANNING  The process by which the efforts of all personnel responsible for an acquisition are coordinated and integrated through a comprehensive plan for fulfilling the agency need in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost. It includes developing the overall strategy for managing the acquisition.

ACTUAL COSTS  Amounts determined on the basis of costs incurred, as distinguished from forecasted costs. Actual costs include standard costs properly adjusted for applicable variances.

ADEQUATE PRICE COMPETITION  Adequate price competition exists when two or more responsible offerors, competing independently, submit priced offers that satisfy the Government's expressed requirement.

ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGE  A unilateral contract modification, in writing, that does not affect the substantive rights of the parties.

ADMINISTRATIVE CONTRACTING OFFICER   Contracting officer whose primary duties involve contract administration.

ADVANCE AGREEMENT  An agreement on the treatment of special or unusual costs, before those costs are incurred. The purpose of the agreement is to avoid possible subsequent disallowance or dispute based on unreasonableness, unallocability, or unallowability under specific cost principles.

ADVANCE NOTICE  A notice of projected Government construction requirements distributed to reach as many prospective offerors as practicable.

ADVANCE PAYMENT BOND  A bond that secures fulfillment of the contractor's obligations under an advance payment provision.

ADVANCE PAYMENTS  Advances of money by the Government to a prime contractor before, in anticipation of, and for the purpose of complete performance under one or more contracts.

AFFILIATES   Business concerns, organizations, or individuals that control each other or that are controlled by a third party. Control may include shared management or ownership; common use of facilities, equipment, and employees; or family interest.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PROGRAM   A contractor's program that complies with Department of Labor regulations to ensure equal opportunity in employment to minorities and women.

AGENCY PROTEST  Also referred to as agency procurement protest. A protest made to the agency responsible for the procurement.

ALLOCATE   To assign an item of cost, or a group of items of cost, to one or more cost objectives. This term includes both direct assignment of cost and the reassignment of a share from an indirect cost pool.

AMENDMENT TO SOLICITATION   A change to a solicitation before contract award.

ANTI-DEFICIENCY ACT   Requires that no officer or employee of the Government may create or authorize an obligation in excess of the funds available, or in advance of appropriations unless otherwise authorized by law.

APPEAL   Action taken by a bidder, offeror or vendor to seek a hearing before a disinterested third-party to challenge a decision.

APPOINTMENT LETTER   Document used by the contracting officer to assign contractual responsibility to another Government official. The letter or memorandum specifies the official's authority and is signed by the Contracting Officer.

ARBITRATION   A resolution by a disinterested third-party to disputes, sometimes pre-dispute, through a clause in a contract.

AREA WIDE CONTRACT  A contract entered into between the General Services Administration and a utility service supplier to cover utility service needs of Federal agencies within the franchise territory of the supplier. Each area wide contract includes an authorization form for requesting service, connection, disconnection, or change in service.

ASSIGNMENT OF CLAIMS   The transfer or making over by the contractor to a bank, trust company, or other financing institution, as security for a loan to the contractor, of its right to be paid by the Government for contract performance.

AUDIT   A review of an offeror's or contractor's books and financial records to evaluate reporting accuracy, financial risk, or cost reasonableness and report to the Contracting Officer or another Government official.


Pentagon Spokesman Department of Defense (DoD)

Guidance for Doing Business with Military Bases