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Zimmerman's Research Guide


Government Contracts

The government contracting field is an interesting mix of business, law and government. I have been asked to research the following areas:

A. Finding RFPs

You can search for Requests For Proposals (RFPs) from the U.S. government on FedBizOpps. Many states and many local governments and have equivalent sites, but in some places each agency is allowed to put out its own RFPs.

Companies that monitor RFPs include dgMarket, FindRFP, RFP Database, Bidnet and GovernmentBids.com. Loren Data's FBO Daily E-Mail Service covers only Federal RFPs.

B. Identifying Companies That Receive Government Contracts

To identify companies that contract with the U.S. government, try SAM (System Award Management), USASpending.gov, FedSpending.org and/or Bloomberg Government (BGov). For Department of Defense contracts over $5 million, you can search the announcements in the Contract Archive. If the free sources don't have what you need, you can search for Federal contract awards in the Federal Business Opportunities database on Lexis back to January 2002 (BUSREF;FEDBOP) or Westlaw back to April 2003 (COMBD).

C. Forms

The General Services Administration posts a Forms Library that includes government contracting forms. Forms from other agencies are available at Forms.gov. WK Forms for Government Contracts is available from CCH either independently or as part of the online Government Contracts Reporter. Official and practice-oriented forms are included in the multi-volume Government Contracts: Cyclopedic Guide to Law, Administration, Procedure (Matthew Bender).

D. Case Law (Judicial and Administrative Decisions)

"Case law" in the Federal government contracts arena includes decisions issued by the U.S. Federal courts and several administrative bodies. You can find cases and administrative board decisions all at once in the subscription-based CCH Government Contracts Library, which includes the CCH Government Contracts Reporter and the CCH Contract Appeals Decisions database. Alternatives include PubKLaw, Lexis and Westlaw.

Alternatively, you can research board decisions using the resources discussed in the entries for the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, Government Accountability Office (for Comptroller General decisions) and the United States Postal Service (for Postal Service Board of Contract Appeals decisions). You can search Federal cases using Lexis, Westlaw Google Scholar, or any other other research system you prefer. See also the entries for the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

E. Regulations

See the Federal Acquisition Regulations entry for a discussion of the regulations governing government contracts.

F. Treatises and Other Research Resources

Government contracts treatises range from the small paperback Government Contracts in a Nutshell to the multi-volume Government Contracts: Cyclopedic Guide to Law, Administration, Procedure (Matthew Bender). The George Washington University Law School produces several good treatises including Formation of Government Contracts and Administration of Government Contracts, both by Ralph Nash and John Cibinic and The Government Contracts Reference Book: A Comprehensive Guide to the Language of Procurement by Ralph Nash. Most of the GW books are available online through CCH's Nash & Cibinic eSeries, which is also available on Lexis.

The ABA Section of Public Contract Law publishes several practice-oriented books such as the Guide To Service Subcontract Terms and Conditions and Best Practices in the Acquisition of a Government Contractor. Click here to see all the government contracts books, CDs and MP3s currently available from the ABA Bookstore.

The CCH Government Contracts Reporter compiles most of the important government contracts-related laws, regulations, executive orders, and agency materials, as well as summaries of Federal court and Board of Contract Appeals decisions. The Reporter is available on CD-ROM or through Lexis (CCHGOV;CCHGCR), Westlaw (CCH-GCR) and the CCH's subscription-based Intelliconnect platform. The Reporter is no longer available in print. For near-comprehensive coverage, the online CCH Government Contracts Library includes the entire Government Contracts Reporter, plus the full-text decisions of the various contract appeals boards from 1956 to present, an archive of Federal Acquisition regulations back to 1984, and the CCH Cost Accounting Standards Guide.

Government agencies provide information about their own contracting rules and procedures. The U.S. Department of Defense posts a Defense Acquisition Guidebook to explain the acquisitions procedures for goods and services purchased by the U.S. Military. The Federal Acquisition Jumpstation links to other U.S. agency web sites that provide information about contracting procedures.

For more resources, see the Georgetown University Law Library's Government Contracts Law Research Guide.

See Also
Civilian Board of Contract Appeals
Federal Acquisition Regulations (FARs)
Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals
Government Accountability Office (GAO)
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
United States Court of Federal Claims
United States Postal Service

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman