Making IT happen

What New Federal IT Sales Reps Need to Know: Acronyms and Lingo

ACQ, CONUS, FAR, IDIQ, J&A, MOU, RFP, come again?

If there’s one thing the federal government loves, it’s a jumbled alphabet soup of acronyms and lingo. If you’ve ever tried reading through IRS tax forms or government contracts and thought to yourself, “What does all of this mean?”, then you know what we’re talking about. You may have experienced this firsthand when you started a new job working with the Federal Government and wondered what language your coworkers were speaking. Don’t worry - we were confused when we started too!

Government lingo is like a different language and if you want to be successful in the Federal space, learning it is key to communicating clearly and effectively.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of consistency across government agencies; the important acronyms can sometimes vary between Department of Defense (DOD), civilian agencies and intelligence agencies.

But wait! Before you panic, we’re here to help! We’ll explain the difference between acronyms, abbreviations and initialisms, as well as who uses them, so it is easier to familiarize yourself with the important terms the government uses on a daily basis.

Let’s start with the basics.

What are Federal Abbreviations?

Federal abbreviations are shortened words or phrases that are spoken as the full word/words used specifically by government agencies or individuals working with them.

We use abbreviations all the time in our daily lives without thinking twice. For example, you usually shorten Drive to Dr. when writing your address or Mister to Mr. when you’re writing a formal email. In a lot of cases, it’s the same for the federal government. Easiest example, “Govt.” for “Government”, or “Dir.” for “Director”.

What are Federal Acronyms?

Federal acronyms are a type of abbreviation that simplifies long organization names or ideas by spelling out another word. For example, SEWP (Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement) is pronounced as the word “Soup”, or NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).

What are Federal Initialisms?

Now, Federal initialisms are tricky because they may seem like an acronym on the surface, but they’re spoken differently. An initialism takes the first letter of words or phrases and abbreviates them, but does NOT pronounce them as a word, instead, enunciating each letter, like “D-O-D”, “F-B-I”, “D-O-J”, etc.

Now that you understand the difference between abbreviations, acronyms and initialisms, it’s time to start learning the lingo.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the abbreviations that you should definitely know as you’re launching into your federal sales career. Much like learning a language, you’ll start to pick up government lingo as you work around people who use it consistently. However, if you ever find yourself completely lost in a meeting, the following list will help.

The Comprehensive List of Government Acronyms and Lingo



8(a)Disadvantaged Business Program
AARAfter Action Report
ACCArmy Contracting Command
ACATAcquisition Category
ACOAdministrative Contracting Officer
ACSAssistant Chief of Staff
ACWPActual Cost of Work Performed
ADAAmericans with Disabilities Act
ADPEAutomated Data Processing Equipment
AIAction Item
ALINAgreement Line Item Number
APLApproved Products List
ANSAmerican National Standard
ANSIAmerican National Standards Institute
AROAfter Receipt of Order
AVBSAutomated Best Value System


B/LBill of Lading
B&PBid and Proposal
BACBudgeted Cost at Completion
BAFOBest and Final Offer
BATBest Available Technology
BDBusiness Development
BDOBlanket Delivery Order
BIOSBasic Input/output System
BMMBusiness Matchmaking
BOABasic Ordering Agreement
BOMBill of Materials
BOSBusiness Opportunity Specialist
BPABlanket Purchase Agreement


CACooperative Agreement
CACCommon Access Card
CADComputer Assisted Design
CAGECommercial and Government Entity
CALClient Across License
CAOCongressional Affairs Office
CASCost Accounting Standards
CBIConfidential Business Information
CBOCongressional Budget Office
CCDRContract Cost Data Report
CCRCentral Contractor Registration
CDDContract Delivery Date
CDRLContract Data Requirements List
CEACost Effective Analysis
CFRCode of Federal Regulations
CFSRContract Funds Status Report
CICACompetition in Contracting Act
CIDCommercial Item Description
CIOChief Information Officer
CLINContract Line Item Number
COIConflict of Interest
CMConfiguration Management
CMMCapability Maturity Model
CMMICapability Maturity Model-Integrated
CMOContract Management Office
CMTContract Management Team
COContracting Officer
COBClose of Business
CONUSContinental United States
CORContracting Officer Representative
COTRContracting Officer’s Technical Representative
COTSCommercial Off-the-Shelf
CPAFCost Plus Award Fee
CPARSContractor Performance Assessment Reporting System
CPFFCost Plus Fixed Fee
CPIFCost Plus Incentive Fee
CPNContract Payment Notice
CPRCost Performance Report
CPUCentral Processing Unit
CRADACooperative Research and Development Agreement
CTAContractor Teaming Agreement
CUIConfidential Unclassified Information
CYCalendar Year


DACADays After Contract Award
DARData at Rest
DARODays After Receipt of Order
DARPADefense Advanced Research Projects Agency
DCAADefense Contract Audit Agency
DCMADefense Contract Management Agency
DD254Department of Defense Contract Security Classification Specification Form
DFARSDefense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement
DHSDepartment of Homeland Security
DIDocument Identifier
DICDocument Identifier Code
DIDData Item Description
DISRDOD IT Standards Registry
DLADefense Logistics Agency
DLHDirect Labor Hour
DOCDepartment of Commerce
DODDepartment of Defense
DODDDepartment of Defense Directive
DODIDepartment of Defense Initiative
DOEDepartment of Energy
DOIDepartment of the Interior
DOJDepartment of Justice
DOLDepartment of Labor
DOSDepartment of State
DOTDepartment of Transportation
DUNSData Universal Numbering System
DVDDirect Vendor Delivery


EBElectronic Business
ECElectronic Commerce
EDDEstimated Delivery Date
EDIElectronic Data Interchange
EDOPExpedited Delivery Order Process
EEOEqual Employment Opportunity
EDWOSBEconomically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business
EFTElectronic Funds Transfer
ELAEnterprise License Agreement
EOExecutive Order
EOMEnd of Month
EPEATElectronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool
ETAEstimated Time of Arrival
ETCEstimate to Complete
EULAEnd User License Agreement


FAQFrequently Asked Question
FARFederal Acquisition Regulation
FASFederal Acquisition Service
FASAFederal Acquisition Streamlining Act
FBOFed Biz Opps (Federal Business Opportunities)
FFPFirm Fixed Price
FFRDCFederally Funded Research and Development Center
FIPSFederal Information Processing Standards
FISMAFederal Information Security Management Act
FLSAFair Labor Standards Act
FMSForeign Military Sales
FMVFair Market Value
FOIAFreedom of Information Act
FPDSFederal Procurement Data System
FPIFixed Price Incentive
FPLFederal Procurement List
FSCFederal Supply Classification
FSNFederal Stock Number
FSSFederal Supply Schedules
FTEFull Time Equivalent
FYFiscal Year
FYIFor Your Information


G&AGeneral and Administrative
GAAGeneral Agency Agreement
GAOGovernment Accountability Office
GBLGovernment Bill of Lading
GFEGovernment Furnished Equipment
GFMGovernment Furnished Materials
GFPGovernment-Furnished Property
GOCOGovernment Owned, Contractor Operated
GPOGovernment Printing Office
GSAGeneral Services Administration
GSARSGeneral Services Acquisition Regulation Supplement
GWACGovernment-wide Acquisition Contract


HBCUsHistorically Black Colleges and Universities
HCAHead of Contracting Activity
HRHuman Resources
HUBHistorically Underutilized Business (i.e. HUBzone)


IAInformation Assurance
IAWIn Accordance With
IDIQIndefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity
IFBInvitation for Bid
IFFIndustrial Funding Fee
IGInspector General
IQCIndefinite Quantity Contract
ISOInternational Standards Organization
ISSAInter/Intra Service Support Agreement
IV&VIndependent Validation and Verification
ITInformation Technology


J&AJustification and Approval


KMKnowledge Management
KOContracting Officer (Used instead of CO by the DOD)
KSCKennedy Space Center


LANLocal Area Network
LOALetter of Offer and Acceptance
LOALetter of Authorization
LOBLine of Business
LOCLibrary of Congress
LOELevel of Effort
LOPLetter of Procurement
LOSLetter of Supply
LPTALowest-Price Technically Acceptable


M&IEMeals and Incidental Expense
MBDCMinority Business Development Center
MBEMinority Business Entrepreneur
MILSPECMilitary Specification
MIL-STDMilitary Standard
MIPRMilitary Interdepartmental Purchase Request
MMRMarket Research Request
MOAMemorandum of Agreement
MOUMemorandum of Understanding


NAICSNorth American Industry Classification System
NARANational Archives and Records Administration
NASANational Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASFARSNational Aeronautics Space Administration FAR Supplement
NDINon-Developmental Item
NIINNational Item Identification Number
NISTNational Institute of Standards and Technology
NLTNo Later Than
NTENot to Exceed


O/AOn or About
OCONUSOutside the Continental United States
OCROptical Character Recognition
OFPPOffice of Federal Procurement Policy
OMBOffice of Management and Budget
OPMOffice of Personnel Management
OSDBUOffice of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
OSHAOccupational Safety and Health Administration
OWBOOffice of Women’s Business Ownership


P/NPart Number
PARPayroll, Accounting and Reporting System
PCOProcuring Contracting Officer
PCRProcurement Center Representative
PEOProgram Executive Officer
PESProfessional Engineering Services
PIDProcurement Item Description
PINPersonal Identification Number
PIVPersonal Identity Verification
PLPublic Law
PMProject/Program Manager
PMOProgram Management Office
PMPProgram Management Plan
POPurchase Order
POA&MPlan of Action and Milestones
POCPoint of Contact
PPIRSPast Performance Information Retrieval System
PRPair; Peer Review(s); Purchase Request
PRDAProgram Research and Development Announcement
PWSPerformance Work Statement


QAQuality Assurance
QABQuality Assurance Program
QASPQuality Assurance Surveillance Plan
QBLQualified Bidders List
QCQuality Control
QMSQuality Management System
QPLQualified Products List


R&DResearch and Development
RD&DResearch, Development and Demonstration
RDDRequired Delivery Date
RDDTEResearch, Development, Demonstration, Testing and Evaluation
RFBRequest for Bid
RFIRequest for Information
RFIDRadio Frequency Identification
RFPRequest for Proposal
RFQRequest for Quotation
ROMRough Order of Magnitude


SADBUSSmall and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Specialist
SAMSystem for Award Management
SATSimplified Acquisition Threshold
SBSmall Business
SBASmall Business Administration
SBACSmall Business Advisory Committee
SBDCSmall Business Development Center
SBICSmall Business Investment Company
SBIRSmall Business Innovation Research
SBSASmall Business Set Aside
SDBSmall Disadvantaged Business
SDVService Disabled Veteran
SDVOSBService-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business
SECSecurities and Exchange Commission
SEWPSolutions for Enterprise Wide Procurement (i.e. NASA SEWP V Contract Vehicle)
SFStandard Form
SICStandard Industrial Classification Codes
SINSpecial Item Number
SKUStock Keeping Unit
SOOStatement of Objectives
SOPStandard Operating Procedure
SOWStatement of Work
SSASource Selection Authority
SSASocial Security Administration
SSNSocial Security Number
STTRSmall Business Technology Transfer Program


T&MTime and Materials
TATeaming Agreement
TBATo be Announced
TCOTermination Contracting Officer
TDTechnology Development
T for CTermination for Convenience
T for DTermination for Default
TINTaxpayer Identification Number
TINATruth in Negotiations Act
TIPSTechnical Information Packages
TQMTotal Quality Management
TTNTechnology Transfer Network


U/IUnit of Issue
UCCUniversal Commercial Code
UELUnlimited Enterprise License
UPCUniversal Product Code
USCUnited States Code
USGUnited States Government


V&VVerification and Validation
VARValue Added Reseller
VCVenture Capital(ist)
VOSBVeteran Owned Small Business
VSCVendor Support Center


Wide Area Work Flow
WBCWomen’s Business Centers
WBEWomen’s Business Enterprise
WBSWork Breakdown Structure
WOSBWoman-Owned Small Business


XOExecutive Officer


YOBYear of Birth
YTDYear to Date

Don’t have time to read the full list now? Download our handy PDF for quick, offline access to see the full list. It’s the cheat sheet you’ve always wanted but never knew you needed.

Four Inc. Acronym List

We also recommend checking out GovSpeaks Guide to U.S. Government Acronyms & Abbreviations.

The next time you find yourself in a meeting with acronyms flying across the table, instead of ducking and taking cover, you’ll be able to jump right in and contribute to the conversation!


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