Analyzing Different Types Of Contract Data

Output: After this class you’ll have massaged the data so only contracts that are relevant to you are left.

Before this analysis, we need to talk a little bit about the different types of contracts that the government puts out and your objectives for your company. We will have other classes that cover this in much more detail, but at the moment we need some low-level understanding.

Indefinite Contracts
The third type are indefinite contracts. These are really framework agreements with the government.

You don’t get any money if you win a seat on one (and frequently there are multiple winners). However, you will get a hunting license to go after work which would otherwise be inaccessible.

It takes a while to get onto one of these as the government generally reserves them for companies that they know and trust.

Ad-Hoc Contracts
The first type of contracts are small ad-hoc contracts (aka simplified acquisitions) which are generally short-term and relatively low dollar value.

While most of these aren’t big enough to allow you to quit your day job, you generally don’t need government experience to win them so they are ideal for companies that are new to government or for existing businesses that want to add some government work.

Definite Contracts
The next are definite contracts.

These are expected to last a couple years, and tend to be for mid-dollar values.

As a new entrant to the government market you probably won’t be able to win one initially but you can get on one as a sub. That said, depending on the amount of the contract you sub for, this might be large enough to justify you leaving your day job.

Delivery & Purchase Orders: 

These are the individual requests for work under an Indefinite Contract. 

You can’t access them – or even be aware of them – if you aren’t on the parent vehicle.

Finding your place:

Now that you have a general idea of what kind of contracts we’ll be dealing with, let’s figure out which ones are the right ones for you to look at (and include in your analysis).

An easy way to begin thinking about which types of contracts to target is this:

If you are happy at your day job and only want to quit once you’ve won a substantial piece of work: Start by looking at mostly definite contracts.

If you already have a company or a day job but want to pick up extra work: Look at both ad-hoc and definite contracts.

Deciding whether to include indefinite contracts is a little tricky.

On one hand, they are high dollar value and high volume. So if an agency is buying a lot of your stuff through them, we want to know because we will want to go after it.

However, you generally have to have been in the game for a couple years before you can get a seat on an indefinite contract.

On balance, I recommend removing indefinite contracts and delivery order/purchase orders for now, since you are breaking in. However, if you have a lot of friends that are in positions of power at big established contractors (e.g. they will let you leverage their indefinite contracts) then maybe leave them in.

How to Do This Analysis

Pivot Tables:

The core of our work for the next couple lessons will be the pivot table. A pivot table is an Excel feature that basically does a big cross-referencing. So in our case, it looks at the data we imported and puts all the agencies that have released contracts that are interesting to us in the rows, the years the contracts came out in in the columns, and then tallies up how many contracts belong in each box.

Additionally, pivot tables have powerful sorting and filtering capabilities that will allow us to quickly dive into the most promising areas.

Step 1:  In the top section of the pivot table go to the contracting action type and remove:

  • Call Blanket Purchase Agreement
  • Delivery Order (unless above)
  • Purchase Order (unless above)
  • Indefinite Delivery Contract
  • BPA
  • BPA Call

Step 2:  Now let’s get rid of the contracts that we couldn’t have bid on. Go to‘ExtentCompeted_duplicate’ into the filter box and remove the following:

  • ‘not competed’
  • ‘non-competitive’
  • ‘follow on’

Now, to decide what kinds of contracts you want to go after.

If you are only interested in mid-sized work (not the ad-hoc contracts),  remove “Competed Under SAP.”

If you are interested in the smaller contracts,  leave “Competed under SAP” in.

Step 3:  Next we want to remove contracts that are too far away for us to perform, so go to the filters area and under “POP_State” click “Select Multiple Items.”

Step 4:  Then click on the “Select All” box to deselect everything, then select the states you are interested in working in.

Be realistic about where you want to work. In theory, you can hire people and work anywhere, but realize that if you go after work on the other side of the U.S. you are going to spend a lot on travel.

Step 5: Next, we want to distinguish between products and services. Click the arrow next to the “psc_cat” filter and if you’re principally planning on offering products, select only the numbers in the dropdown. If you’re principally offering services, select all of the letters.
Output: Now we are down to the types of contracts that we are interested in and can bid on as a new company.

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