Contract expenditures are some of the most significant expenditures within the Federal Government, with obligations totaling in the trillions of dollars in any given year and individual contracts often reaching into the billions of dollars. Funds are expended under Federal contracts to purchase or support a wide variety of services, purchases of equipment, and real and consumer-type properties. For many agencies, amounts spent under contracts greatly exceed amounts spent on other items in their budgets.

Contracts Defined

Contracts are the legal obligations of the Federal Government, generally in writing, which obligate the government to an expenditure of money upon delivery of goods or performance of services. Federal Government contracting is a preferred form of acquiring services, products, capital assets, real properties, supplies, and materials from non-Federal sources for military and civilian purposes and for use domestically or internationally.

Contract Types

The types of Federal contracts vary but may be grouped into six general categories, with variations in each grouping:

1. Fixed price
2. Cost reimbursement
3. Incentive
4. Indefinite delivery
5. Time-and-materials, labor-hour, and letter contracts
6. Agreements

Fixed-price contracts establish a negotiated price for goods and services when the government can clearly define the outcomes, services, and/or goods. The contractor is responsible ...

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