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Federal Government Contracting: A Resource Guide

The Basics

Contracting for goods and services has long been a practice of the United States government. We have focused in this section on more current guidance on issues and more general contracting sources. If you are looking for specific contracts see the Historical Contracts section of this guide.

Government contracting does change over time and this part of the guide is primarily for those looking at current rather than past practice. One resource that is more historical in nature but is still referred to, and occasionally makes a resurgence, is OMB Circular A-76. This circular was created in 1966 (substantially revised in 1967, 1979, 1983, 1991, 1999, and 2003 with a moratorium placed on it in 2007/2008). It set the guidelines and procedures that determined whether an activity should have been performed in-house by the agency or whether it should have been contracted-out to the private sector and also set forth a policy that the Federal Government should not be in competition with the private sector.

One area that has increasingly become an issue is counterfeit parts. This has become such an issue that in 2019 and 2020 the Surface Mount Technology Association (SMTA) put on the Symposium on Counterfeit Parts and Materials. There have also been a number of actions taken within the United States government to combat this. The Defense Logistics Agency has also developed the Qualified Suppliers List for Manufacturers (QSLM) and Qualified Suppliers List for Distributors (QSLD) that pre-qualify manufacturers and/or distributors based on an assessment of the provider's applied process controls after they demonstrate that the controls which they have in-place and in-use on a daily basis comply with the established QSL criteria. Also, NIST Supply Chain Risk Management Practices for Federal Information Systems and Organizations (SP800-161) and issued guidance on component authenticity (SA-19) and in September 2019 the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) Task Force, joined industry and government partners to release the Task Force’s Interim Report (PDF).

Print Resources

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

Internet Resources

The links below provide more detailed guidance or more detailed information for those currently contracting or those who want to understand more about how the process works.