Federal Contract Award Data Hierarchy

Understanding Contract Award Data hierarchy (Federal Contract Awards, Contract IDV Awards, and Contract Vehicles)

A Federal Contract Award is the money the federal government has promised to pay a recipient, obligated (promised) in the form of a Federal Contract. Funding may be awarded to a company, organization, government entity (i.e., state, local, tribal, federal, or foreign), or individual.

GovTribe regularly mines Federal Contract Award information from FPDS.gov and USASpending.gov in real time so this information is synced with the definitive federal source. Award information is searchable on GovTribe, via the Awards section of the navigation menu.

The first three items of this menu section, described later in this document, are related to federal contracts. The fourth menu item allows you to search for Federal Grant Awards.

This document explains the hierarchical relationship of contract awards, contract IDV awards, and contract vehicles awards.

Related Articles: Research Past Awards (Incumbent Contracts) Federal Contract Awards Federal Contract IDV Awards Federal Contract Vehicles

The Federal Contract Award Data Hierarchy

Contract Award data is organized into multiple contract types by the government that GovTribe has organized into a hierarchical structure, as follows:

  • LEVEL 1: Federal Contract Awards The bottom level of the contract data hierarchy where funds are obligated.

  • LEVEL 2: Federal Contract IDV Awards The middle level of the contract data hierarchy - the Indefinite Delivery Vehicle level - which contains parent contracts assigned to a vendor, under which they can receive awards.

  • LEVEL 3: Federal Contract Vehicles The top level of the contract data hierarchy -- the Multiple Award Vehicle (or Master Vehicle) level -- which contains named Federal Supply Schedules, Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts, Indefinite Delivery Contracts, and Blanket Purchase Agreements.

GovTribe represents this hierarchy at the top of Awards pages in chevron form, as shown below.

On the Federal Contract and Contract IDV Award levels:

On the Federal Contract Vehicle level:

These are both in-context representations of the larger Federal Contract Award Hierarchy that can be fully represented by the chart below. Note that the three "levels" of the hierarchy coincide with the three Contract Award search pages available on GovTribe.

Level 1: Federal Contract Awards

Though the federal government has about a dozen different contract designations, there are two major “types” against which money is obligated. Direct Contract Awards and Task Order Awards.

Direct Contract Awards

Direct Contract Awards are contracts that are awarded once, to a single vendor, without the use of a pre-existing parent contract or vehicle. Direct Contract Awards exist only at the bottom, “Award” level of the contract award hierarchy structure. This means that contract ceiling, period of performance, and all other contract attributes are established through the same contract entity against which funds are obligated.These are the simplest kinds of contracts to track and evaluate because all of the relevant information is in one place.

There are two types of Direct Contract Awards that you can find in the GovTribe contracts database:

  • Definitive Contracts Typically competitively awarded (sometimes sole-sourced) contracts for non-commoditized products and services.

  • Purchase Orders Awards through simplified acquisition processes for commoditized products and services, often sole-source awards, but can also be competitive.

Task Order Awards

Task Order Awards are contracts that are awarded to a single vendor, but the award occurs under an existing contract (or IDV) that was previously awarded to that vendor. Task Order Awards have their own contract ceiling and period of performance. The parent (IDV) level also has a ceiling and period of performance, but it is usually different from that of the Task Order Award. Further, all the obligation activity happens here, at the Task Order level. Obligations do not occur at the parent (IDV) level, as will be explained in the next section.

There are two types of Task Order Awards that you can find in the GovTribe contracts database:

  • Delivery Orders Task orders awarded under Federal Supply Schedule IDVs, Government Wide Acquisition Contract IDVs, and Indefinite Delivery Contract IDVs.

  • BPA Calls Function exactly like Delivery Orders but occur under Blanket Purchase Agreement IDVs only.

Level 2: Federal Contract IDVs

Above the award level is the Indefinite Delivery Vehicle (IDV) level. There are several types of IDVs that basically work the same way.

Each IDV contract is awarded to a single vendor, and that vendor can be issued Delivery Orders or BPA calls under that IDV. Several important properties exist at the IDV leve, such as period of performance for the IDV (which may be longer than any individual Delivery Order or BPA Call awarded under it), and the aggregate ceiling for all awards issued under it. Obligations do not occur at this level, but GovTribe does provide an aggregation of child task order obligations for every IDV.

There are six types of Federal Contract IDVs captured in the GovTribe contracts database:

  • Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) IDVs GSA schedule IDV contracts. Each is awarded to a specific vendor and falls under one specific Master GSA Federal Supply Schedule. Every FSS IDV has a parent Master Vehicle.

  • Indefinite Delivery Contract (IDC) IDVs Agency-specific IDVs that can be used for a variety of product and service categories, also known as Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts (although the government does not use that terminology in the spending records). IDC IDVs may or may not have a parent Master Vehicle.

  • Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) IDVs Also usually Agency-specific and are more often used for single-award purposes. They typically don’t require the government to engage in as much competition to issue task orders (BPA calls) once the BPA is awarded. BPA IDVs may or may not have a parent Master Vehicle.

  • Government Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) IDVs Also managed by the GSA and operate in much the same way, these are large IT-related acquisition IDVs. Every GWAC IDV has a parent Master Vehicle.

  • Other Transaction IDV IDVs not covered by the types listed above.

  • Basic Ordering Agreement A purchase order which a customer places with its supplier to allow multiple delivery dates over a period of time, often negotiated to take advantage of predetermined pricing, normally used when there is a recurring need for expendable goods

As depicted in the diagram above, BPA IDVs can be awarded directly through open competition or through limited competition under a Federal Supply Schedule. When a BPA IDV is awarded under a FSS, GovTribe provides the entire chain of ancestors so you can trace a BPA Call back up to the BPA IDV, and again to the FSS IDV.

Level 3: Federal Contract Vehicles

Sometimes existing above the Level 2 Federal Contract IDV are Federal Contract Vehicles (sometimes referred to as Master Vehicles or Multiple Award Vehicles), which are multiple award contracting vehicles through which the government may award Task Orders through the multiple Federal Contract IDVs that exist beneath them.

There are four types of Master Vehicles that you can find in the GovTribe contracts database:

  • Master GSA Schedule Parent to FSS IDVs.

  • Master GWAC Parent to GWAC IDVs.

  • Master IDIQ Parent to multiple award IDC IDVs.

  • Master BPA Parent to multiple award BPA IDVs.

Not all Federal Contract IDVs have a parent Contract Vehicle. FSS IDVs and GWAC IDVs always fall underneath a Master Vehicle, however IDC IDVs and BPA IDVs can also be single-award (only a single vendor was the winner of a procurement process that resulted in an indefinite delivery contract or blanket purchase agreement). For those single-award IDVs GovTribe still consolidates the child Task Order Awards, but there is no parent contract vehicle in the hierarchy. The details page for a Contract IDV will indicate whether it was part of a single- or multiple-award procurement.

The chevron graphic at the top of the detail page for any Contract IDV indicates whether a parent Contract Vehicle exists.

Further, GovTribe also allows you to filter by this trait on the Federal Contract IDV search page.

For those IDVs that are multiple award, GovTribe creates the Federal Contract Vehicle Level above the Federal Contract IDV Level. Federal Contract Vehicles exist conceptually for the government, but they do not exist in the government spending data natively.

Furthermore, the industry tends to conflate terminology between the Indefinite Delivery Vehicle (IDV) Level and (what we call) the Federal Contract Vehicle (or Master Vehicle). For example, they use the term GWAC to refer to both the vendor-specific GWAC IDV contract and the parent multiple award vehicle under which 20 vendors received IDV contracts.

On GovTribe, we distinguish between Master GWAC and GWAC IDV, using those terms, for each type of Master Vehicle and IDV.

Federal Contract Vehicles are almost always awarded to multiple vendors, and the children of Vehicles are always one of the Federal Contract IDV types described in the previous section. Federal Contract Vehicles have a kick-off date, a completion date, and a shared award ceiling. GovTribe’s Vehicle pages also include roll-ups of all obligations for all Task Orders issued under each of the child Federal Contract IDVs.

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