Public Procurement Dictionary of Terms

As the procurement profession continues to evolve as a critical component of the work of government, the need for a clear, concise and comprehensive reference for public purchasing terms and concepts becomes more essential.

Containing more than 2300 entries, this compilation of terms, acronyms and definitions articulates terms that have unique meanings relevant to purchasing activities. These definitions are intended to be informational only and should not be construed as legal.

AAA: See American Arbitration Association.

A+B Bidding: A cost-plus-time bidding procedure that selects the low bidder based on a monetary combination of the contract bid items (A) and the time (B) needed to complete the project or a critical portion of the project. It is used to motivate the contractor to minimize the overall time on high priority and high usage projects. This encourages contractors to finish early by (1) offering bonuses for early completion and (2) assessing fines for late completion. (

A & E: See Architectural and Engineering.

A/E (Architect or Engineer) Professional Services: Services that require performance by a registered architect or engineer. Professional services of an architectural or engineering nature that are associated with research, planning, development, design construction, alteration or repair of real property.

ABA: See American Bar Association.

ABA Model Procurement Code for State and Local Government (U.S. Law): Developed by the American Bar Association (ABA) and adopted in 1979, it is a collection of statutory principles and policies that provides guidance to public policy managers who wish to responsibly manage public procurement. State and larger local governments have individually codified it into procurement law and policy to effectively guide their procurement organizations. The code was updated in 2000 and contained enhancements in the following areas: Electronic Commerce, Cooperative Purchasing, Flexibility in Purchasing Methods and Processes for Delivery of Infrastructure Facilities and Services. Also called Model Procurement Code.

ABA Model Procurement Ordinance for Local Governments (U.S. Law): A code similar to the ABA Model Procurement Code, but intended for use by small local jurisdictions.

ABC: Canadian Aboriginal Businesses Canada, a division of Industry Canada. (Summit Magazine on-line)

ABC Inventory Classification: A means in which to categorize inventory that is applicable to any size business, regardless of industry. (e.g. government, manufacturing, services etc.) ABC classification allows for a review of the inventory based on the business’ approach to the management or review of its inventory. For some agencies, the ABC of categories is based on the dollar value of the items. “A” in this application would be the top 10% of the inventory items and would account for approximately 70% of the annual inventory dollar volume. “B” would be the next 20% and would account for approximately 20% of the annual dollars in the inventory and “C” the remaining 70% of the annual inventory items with 10% of the overall monetary value of the annual inventory. The use of the terms “A”, “B”, and “C” may also be used to classify the need for accurate inventory records (tolerance) for various items, (very accurate, moderate accuracy), how often cycle counts are needed (weekly, monthly, or quarterly), or even to note who may be responsible for the inventory itself (i.e.: “A” is controlled by fleet, “B” is by purchasing and “C” by parks and recreation). Further, “A” may denote the items in the inventory that have the longest lead times (i.e.: JIT extended lead times), how the items are purchased (term contract, spot buy) or levels of safety stock required (highest turn-over, slow movers). Location of specific items in the inventory may also be denoted by the ABC Classification system. (Janson, 1987)

ABL (Approved Brands List): See Approved Products List (APL); Qualified Products List (QPL); Acceptable Products List (APL).

Absolute Advantage: The ability of a country to produce a specific good with fewer resources per unit of output than other countries. The ability to produce something with fewer resources than other producers would use to produce the same thing. A monopoly that exists when a country is the only source of an item, the only producer of an item, or the most efficient producer of an item. Also see Comparative Advantage. (Schiller, 2000)

ACAN: Canadian See Advanced Contract Award Notice.

Accelerator: The ratio between investment expenditures and the change in gross domestic product. This is based on the notion that business investment depends on the rate of growth of aggregate output. If the economy is expanding, then the business sector invests in more capital goods to produce the extra output needed.



To receive as approved, adequate, or satisfactory.
To receive willingly with the intent of retaining.
Accept with Consideration of Non-conforming Goods: Terminology that describes the process that occurs after non-conforming goods have been rejected by the buyer. The vendor offers a discount or other incentive to encourage the buyer to accept the non-conforming goods and when the buyer then accepts them, it is done with consideration of non-conforming goods. Example: Buyer contracts for black color garbage bags and the vendor ships clear garbage bags in error. Buyer notifies vendor of the nonconforming goods and the vendor offers to reduce the price of this shipment in order to entice the buyer to keep and use the non-conforming goods.

Accept without Consideration of Non-conforming Goods: Terminology used to describe the process that occurs when a supplier ships non-conforming goods and the buyer accepts them knowingly or unknowingly. Example: Buyer contracts for 3 mil plastic garbage bags but the supplier mistakenly ships 2 mil gauge thickness bags instead. When the buyer accepts, knowingly or unknowingly, the non-conforming goods and uses them, it is done without any further consideration from the supplier to offset the lower quality of the plastic garbage bags that was sent to the buyer.

Acceptable Products List (APL): A pre-approved list of commodities/products, usually grouped by manufacturer, which have proven to be in conformance with developed specifications and standards. The list may result from performance testing of the product or as a result of field testing or laboratory analysis. Also see Qualified Products List (QPL) and Approved Brands List (ABL).

Acceptable Quality Level (AQL): The specified minimum performance that must be achieved by a product or service to assure the buyer that the goods or services will perform as per the specifications or stipulations contained within the statement of work. The maximum allowable number of defects or defective units. A predetermined quality level which has been deemed as being acceptable; generally used in the manufacturing of material items. Example: AQL of 1% defective rate is acceptable for this item. Also see Acceptance Sampling.


Indication that an offeree is bound by the terms of the offer.
An indication by one party of a willingness to act in accordance with the contract or offer.
The assumption of a legal obligation by a party to a contract to the terms and conditions of that contract.
The act of receiving by an authorized representative with the intention of retaining.
Acceptance of Offer: The agreement of the vendor to deliver the goods ordered for the price offered.

Acceptance of Order: The agreement of the purchaser to an offer submitted by a vendor.

Acceptance Sampling (Acceptance Testing): A quality control technique used to evaluate the overall condition of a given lot by physically inspecting only a portion or sample of the lot. Also see Acceptable Quality Level (AQL).

Access to Information Office: Canadian A facility within Canadian governments for information regarding contract awards.

Access to Information Program (ATIP): Canadian Mandated by the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, this program gives any person in Canada the right to access information held in government records, subject to certain exceptions and limitations. (

Accessorial Transportation Charges: The costs that a carrier may charge in addition to the actual freight transportation charge such as: Inside delivery, interim storage, and redelivery charges. (ISM, 2000)

Account: A list or enumeration of monetary transactions between parties to a contract showing purchases, payments, and credits for goods or services.

Accountable: The concept that a person is obliged to give a reckoning or explanation for one’s actions; responsible. Also see Accountability.

Accountability: The principle that employees who accept an assignment and the authority to carry it out are answerable to a superior or a higher authority for the outcome. (Business, 2002)

Accountable Advance: Canadian The advance of funds provided for a specific purpose and chargeable to a specific appropriation.

Accountable Item: Canadian Any item of equipment separately accounted for upon acquisition, removal, transfer, sale, demolition, abandonment, or write-off.

Accounting Cycle: The four-step procedure of an accounting system: examining source documents, recording transactions in an accounting journal, posting recorded transactions, and preparing financial statements. (Business, 2002)

Accounting Equation: Assets equal liabilities plus owners’ equity. (Schiller, 2000)

Accounts Payable:

Financial obligations that arise as a result of making credit purchases.
An accounting function that is responsible for making payment to contractors and suppliers for charges incurred.
Liability accounts which indicate the charges owed on open accounts.
Accounts Receivable Turnover: A financial ratio calculated by dividing net sales by accounts receivable. (Schiller, 2000)

Accounts Receivables: Amounts that are due and payable to a firm as a result of sales to its customers. An accounting function that is responsible for the collection and deposit of payments received on open customer accounts for goods and services sold.

Accredited Purchasing Practitioner (A.P.P.): A certification given to qualified individuals by the Institute of Supply Management (ISM). (

Accrual Basis Accounting: An accounting system that encumbers or sets aside funds for a specified future expenditure. Using this system, transactions are recognized at the time they are incurred, as opposed to when cash is received or spent. This method of accounting is the most commonly used, especially among governmental entities. All agencies in the United States and Canada require an encumbrance and a receipt before payment can be authorized by demanding procedural separation between the ordering of goods and services; encumbrance of funds; and authorization of payment. Also see Cash Basis Accounting.

Acid Test Ratio: A financial ratio calculated by subtracting the value of inventory from the current asset amount and dividing by current liabilities. (Schiller, 2000)

Acknowledgement: A written or electronic communication sent by the supplier to the buyer that indicates that the supplier has accepted the order (purchase order). It may be a form of acceptance and may create a bilateral contract. It may also be a form of counter-offer from the seller to the buyer. Also see Battle of the Forms.

ACORD (Association of Cooperative Operations Research and Development): A non-profit association whose mission is to facilitate the development and use of standards for the insurance and reinsurance industry. ACORD is the focal point for providing standard insurance forms that meet all regulatory requirements for the U.S. property and casualty/surety market. (ACORD Corporation, 1988)


As defined under FAR 2.101: Acquiring by contract, with appropriated funds, supplies or services (including construction) by and for the use of the Federal Government, through purchase or lease, whether the supplies or services already exist or must be created, developed, demonstrated, and evaluated.
The process of obtaining supplies, services, or construction through purchase, lease, or grants.
Acquisition Cost: The total sum of all actual and administrative costs incurred by the buyer in the process of acquiring goods and services. Total acquisition cost may include indirect labor and overhead costs. The costs associated with generating and processing an order including administrative costs is also included. The price level, or value of the supplies or services, to be purchased under a contract. Also see Carrying Cost.

Acquisition Fee: Canadian The amount billed to cover the cost of initiating a contract.

Acquisition Price: The amount paid to a vendor or contractor for the goods or services obtained.

Act of God: An unforeseen occurrence beyond human control, caused by nature, such as a tornado or hurricane. Not attributable to the negligence of the contractor. Also see Force Majeure. May be cause for contract termination and usually appears in the general conditions or boilerplate section of the solicitation. (Harney, 1998)

Actual Authority: The specific right to perform acts and make decisions or prescribe rules governing the conduct of others as given to an agent by a principal. Also see Apparent Authority. (Garner, 2004)

Actual Cost: All direct and indirect costs incurred for services, supplies, or construction, as distinguished from estimated or forecasted costs.

Actual Damages: Real damages to compensate for loss or injuries that have actually occured. This is in contrast to “nominal” damages (a small amount paid where there is no real loss) or “punitive” damages (intended to punish the party who must pay damages). When damages, which have been suffered by someone as a result of another’s wrongdoing, can be precisely measured, they are called actual damages. Examples of actual damages are: loss of income because of an injury; medical expenses; costs of repairing damaged property; and specific business losses occurring because of a breach of a contract.

ADA: See American with Disabilities Act.

Ad Hoc Committee: A committee created for a specific purpose that is in place for a short period of time. They are now being replaced by cross-functional teams in a less formalized setting. (Business, 2002)

Addendum/Addenda: A written change, addition, alteration, correction or revision to a bid, proposal or contract document. Addendum/Addenda may be issued following a pre-bid/pre-proposal conference or as a result of a specification or work scope change to the solicitation. (Harney, 1998)

Adhesion Contracts: Contracts where the buyer is in no position to bargain effectively with the seller. In this context, the seller presents a “take it or leave it” contract for the purchase of goods with the intent to take advantage of the buyer’s lack of knowledge and sophistication in order to get the buyer to enter into a patently unfair contract.

Adjectival Ratings: A notational scoring system in which adjectives are used to describe the quality of an offeror’s proposal. Proposals may be rated using such terms as Outstanding, Highly Acceptable, Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor. (Nash, Schooner, O’Brien, 1998)

Adjustment: Canadian The amount of variation permitted by an adjustment clause in the contract generally permitting a change upward or downward in the price or obligation in case certain events transpire.

Administered Price: A price determined by the deliberate price policy of a vendor rather than by competitive forces of the market place. Also see List Price.

Administrative Change: A unilateral change to a contract in writing, that does not affect the substantive rights of the parties, such as a change in the address to which an invoice is mailed.

Administrative Law: Rules, regulations, and executive orders promulgated by governmental administrative or regulatory agencies. Generally enacted to make statutes and ordinances more specific. Has the force and effect of law.

Administrative Remedies (exhaustion of): The completion of the process of direct appeal to a governmental body as defined by the governmental bodies’ administrative regulations. When all procedures for review of the appeal by public officials have been followed and the relief sought by the appealing party still has not been obtained to that party’s satisfaction, administrative remedies are considered to be exhausted. The appealing party may seek legal action through the courts. (Garner, 2004)

ADP: See Automated Data Processing.

ADR: See Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Ad Valorem: According to value. Customs duty (rate) that is generally charged on the value of goods irrespective of weight or other material considerations. Generally expressed as a percentage of the value of the goods as indicated on an invoice or bill of materials. (ISM, 2000)

Ad Valorem Duty: A customs duty or tax based on the value of the goods under consideration rather than on the quantity of the goods.

Advance Acquisition: The acquisition of items which require long lead times, or are required in extraordinary quantities, in advance of the fiscal year in which the product, service, or construction is required.

Advance Payments: Agreed upon payments between buyer and seller made prior to the actual receipt and delivery of the contracted goods and services. Payments may be for a stated amount or for a percentage of the purchase price. Sometimes referred to as cash in advance. Also see Partial Payment and Progress Payment.

Advanced Contract Award Notice (ACAN): Canadian A notice of intent to solicit a bid and negotiate with a single firm. Other suppliers are not invited to bid on these requirements but can forward letters of intent indicating their interest before the closing date. Notice of bidding requests will then be solicited from letters of interest that have been received. (Summit Magazine, On-Line)

Advertise: To make a public announcement or legal notice of a forthcoming solicitation with the aim of increasing the response and enlarging the field of competition; often required by law or policy.

Advertising: The act of preparing and distributing advertisements which call attention to a contemplated public purchase or sale.

Advice of Shipment: Canadian A notice sent to a purchaser advising that a shipment has been released.

AFC: See Average Fixed Cost.


A written statement of facts provided by one party which may be made under oath before a person of authority. An affidavit may be required as part of a bid or request for proposal solicitation.
A written declaration made under oath before an authorized official.

A branch or unit of a larger organization.
A company effectively controlled by another or associated with others under common ownership or control.
Affirmative Action:

A requirement contained within Federal law (Equal Opportunity Act of 1972) that requires organizations to achieve a work force that reflects the composition of the community. A plan designed to increase the number of minority employees at all levels within an organization.
A process of taking special or unusual steps to assure that businesses owned by specified minorities and/or women will have equal access to the purchasing process and will obtain an appropriate share of awards. (Business, 2002)
AG: Canadian See Auditor General of Canada.


A legal relationship that exists between two parties by which one (the agent) is authorized to perform or transact specified business activities for the other (the principal).
An administrative or organizational division of a government.
Agent: A person authorized by a superior, i.e. principal, to act for him or her. In public procurement, this designation is usually incorporated into statute and ordinance. Empowered to act for another. Also see Principal, Buyer and Law of Agency. (NASPO, 2001)

Aggrandizement: To extend the scope of one’s influence beyond what is normal or ethically acceptable. Personal gain obtained through an agreement established and intended to be on behalf of taxpayers that is unacceptable and taints the behavior of public professionals acting as stewards of the public trust.

Aggregate: To gather or collect quantities of a specific item (product or service) in order to achieve savings by leveraging economies of scale. An enabler of the economic theory that the larger the quantity the smaller the unit price. (Schiller, 2000)

Aggregate Award: A contract award made to the lowest responsive, responsible bidder based on the total price for all items. While this allows the public entity to enter into a contract with a single supplier, this method does not provide the best available pricing and may be overly restrictive, unless multiple bidders are able to supply all of the items contained in the solicitation document.

Aggregate Supply: The total quantity of output producers are willing and able to supply at alternative price levels in a given time period. (Schiller, 2000)

Aggregator: A technology reference to a website that contains product catalogs from many suppliers in one place as a convenience to supply management organizations. (Jansen, 2002)

Aggrieved Bidder/Proposer: The bidder/proposer who is adversely affected because they would be eligible to be awarded the public contract in the event that the protest or dispute was successful.

Agreement: An understanding, usually in writing, between two or more competent parties, under which one party agrees to certain performance as defined in the agreement and the second party agrees to compensation for the performance rendered in accordance with the conditions of the agreement. Agreements and contracts are sometimes used synonymously. Generally agreements are approved by an attorney “as to form” and legal sufficiency prior to execution. Also see As To Form. (Harney, 1992)

Agreement Type: Canadian Refers to the agreement under which the opportunity is governed, such as the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), etc. (Summit Magazine, On-Line)

AIA: See American Institute of Architects.

Air Freight:

Freight transported by air.
The amount charged for air transportation.
Air Freight Forwarder: As described in FAR 47.401: An indirect air carrier that is responsible for the transportation of property, from the point of receipt to the point of destination, and utilizes for the whole or any part of such transportation the services of a direct air carrier or its agent, or of another air freight forwarder.

Air Waybill: Documentary proof of the contract of carriage between the shipper and the carrier. It serves as a receipt of goods for shipment and is required for Customs clearance. This proof was issued by the airlines following the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) standard form. (Business, 2002)

Alien Corporation: A corporation chartered by a foreign government and conducting business in the United States. (Business, 2002)

Allocable Costs: Costs that are specifically related to the contract. (Harney, 1992) A cost that can be assigned or charged as an item of cost to one or more cost objectives, in accordance with the terms of the contract and applicable laws and regulations.

Allocation: The act of reserving inventory items in stock for later issue to a given using agency.

Allocation of Cost: To assign or charge an item of cost to one or more cost objectives, either as a direct cost or as a share of an indirect cost pool, based on the relative benefits received or other equitable relationship.

All-Or-Nothing Bid (All or None): A bid submitted for a number of different items, services, etc. in which the bidder states it will not accept a partial award, but will accept only an award for all the items, services, etc., included in the Invitation for Bids. Because the bidder has qualified their bid, their bid response may be deemed as non-responsive.

Allot: To divide an appropriation into amounts which may be encumbered or expended during an allotment period.

Allowable Costs: Costs that are recognized by law, regulation, or the contract. (Harney, 1992) A cost that is reasonable.

Alpha: A word referring to the first of two pre-release phases of a commercial hardware or software product. The early version of the product is tested at the developer’s site and is then improved accordingly. The release prior to the beta test or beta version. (Jansen, 2002)

Alphanumeric: A set of characters that contains both letters (alpha) and numbers (numeric). These characters may include punctuation and symbols found on a standard keyboard. Generally assigned to identify a specific item such as a model number. (Jansen, 2002)

Alternate Bid (Response):

A substitute bid.
A bid submitted with an intentional substantive variation to a basic provision, specification, term, or condition of the solicitation. Also see Alternative (Alternate) Bid/Proposal.
Alternate Service Delivery (ASD): Canadian An agency’s process of looking at new ways of delivering some of its services, frequently by contracting to suppliers for services that were previously provided in-house. (Summit Magazine, On-Line)

Alternative (Alternate) Bid/Proposal: A response to a bid or proposal that does not meet the exact requirements of the specification or scope of work but offers an alternative for consideration. A bid/proposal submitted with an intentional substantive variation to a basic provision, specification, term or condition of the solicitation. This alternative, in the opinion of the bidder/proposer, achieves the same end result. Alternative bids and proposals may render the bid/proposal as non-responsive. Also see Alternate Bid (Response).

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): A process or procedure used voluntarily between parties to resolve issues in controversy without the need to resort to litigation. ADR may include but are not limited to mediation, fact-finding and arbitration. Also see Litigation.

Alternative Project Delivery Method (APDM ): A collective term to refer to the use of non-traditional contracting methods. The contractor may participate in or advise on the design or may be entirely responsible for the design; the contractor’s selection is based on qualifications or best value. Traditional contracting methods may include Design-bid-build or design-build where alternative methods may include Construction Management or an Alliance/Relationship Contracting.

Ambiguity: Contract language that is capable of being understood to have more than one meaning. Such language is generally subject to more than one interpretation.


An agreed addition to, deletion from, correction or modification of a document or contract.
To revise or change an existing document; a formal revision, improvement or correction. Also see Authorized Deviation, Change Order and Contract Modification.
Amendment Previous Value: Canadian Value of a document as last amended.

Amendment Status: Canadian Identifies the number and description of amendments issued to a bid solicitation or contract document, and gives a description of the previous wording.

American Arbitration Association (AAA): A not-for-profit organization that provides resources for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Arbitration and mediation are being widely used to settle contractual disputes instead of litigation.

American Bar Association (ABA): With more than 400,000 members, the ABA provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, legal information, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public. (

American Institute of Architects (AIA): A national professional society founded in 1857 whose members are licensed architects, graduate architects or retired architects. AIA promotes design excellence and fosters professionalism and accountability through professional development programs and achievement awards. (

American National Standards Institute (ANSI): Coordinates the development and use of voluntary consensus standards in the United States and represents the needs and views of U.S. stakeholders in standardization forums around the globe. The Institute oversees the creation, promulgation and use of thousands of norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses in nearly every sector. ANSI is also actively engaged in accrediting programs that assess conformance to standards. (, 2006)

American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS): A professional society whose mission is to improve and advance the field of production and inventory control. Also known as The Association for Operations Management. (

American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM): A not-for-profit institution that develops specifications, standards, test methods and other product testing data. (

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Federal legislation passed in 1990 that requires organizations with at least 25 employees to make reasonable accommodations for qualified workers and applicants with disabilities and to avoid discriminating against them. Compliance includes removing physical workplace barriers. (Business, 2002)

Amortization: To provide for the gradual reduction in the cost value. An accounting procedure that gradually reduces the cost value of limited life or intangible assets through periodic charges to income. (Business, 2002)

Analytical Skills: An individual’s ability to identify relevant issues, recognize their importance, understand the relationship between them, and perceive the underlying causes of a situation. These skills are crucial in making most procurement decisions. (Miller, 2006)

Ancillary Services: Commercial type support services required by a government such as custodial, landscape maintenance, and refuse collection, etc.

ANSI: See American National Standards Institute.

Anticipatory Repudiation: Statements or acts of a contractor before an actual Breach of Contract that indicate that the contractor does not intend or is unable to complete, or continue to perform under the contract. (Black’s Law Dictionary, 93)

Anti-trust Laws: State and federal laws enacted to ensure free, fair and open competition by prohibiting monopolies or conspiracies in restraint of trade in interstate and foreign commerce. The Sherman and Clayton Acts are examples of Federal Antitrust Laws. (Miller, 2006)

Anti-trust Legislation: Laws that attempt to prevent or eliminate monopolies or oligopolies and to prevent noncompetitive practices.

Antitrust Violations: Violations of federal or state laws that regulate trusts, cartels, or business monopolies by limiting or prohibiting non-competitive business practices. Violations of antitrust laws include such practices as price fixing, bid rigging, identical bidding and market division. (Garner, 2004)

APC: See Average Propensity to Consume.

APDM: See Alternative Project Delivery Method.

APICS: See American Production and Inventory Control Society.

APL (Approved/Acceptable Products List): See Acceptable Products List. Also see Qualified Products List (QPL) and Approved Brands List (ABL).

Apparent Agency (a.k.a. “estoppel agency”): An agency relationship whereby the principal’s conduct implies that an agent has authority to act on the principal’s behalf and thereby the Principal becomes bound to and responsible for what the agent signed or did. (Garner, 2004)

Apparent Authority: Occurs when a principal allows or permits a person to function in a capacity that creates the illusion that the person is an authorized agent of the principal. Also see Actual Authority. (Garner, 2004)

Apparent Low Bidder: After conducting a price analysis from quotes/bids received, the buyer initially identifies the low bidder strictly based on the lowest price received before determining whether the bid is from a responsive and responsible bidder.

Appeal: An objection to a process, procedure or an award. An appeal may be taken to the proper authority responsible for receiving appeals by filing a Notice of Appeal within the required time period. This notice must be in writing, signed by a person of authority, (the contractor, an officer, if the contractor is a corporation, or its attorney) and should identify the contract by number, the final decision which is being appealed, and the agency issuing that final decision. Although express mail services are sufficient if you are certain that the Notice will be delivered within the specified timeframe, it is safer to send the Notice by registered mail which provides irrefutable proof of mailing within the specified time. Also see Appeal Process and Appeal Rights.

Appeal Process: The appeal process varies among different public agencies but the goal of the agency should remain constant – fair and equitable treatment of the parties. Also see Appeal and Appeal Rights.

Appeal Rights: The legal right to challenge the agency and to ask for a decision to be reviewed and changed. Also see Appeal and Appeal Process.

Appellate Court: A court that hears cases appealed from lower courts. (Garner, 2004)

Appropriation: Canadian Any authority of Parliament to pay money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Appropriation: Legislative authorization to expend public funds for a specific purpose. Funds that have been set aside for a specific purpose. (Schiller, 2000)

Approval Date: Canadian The date on which a procurement document was approved by the appropriate authority.

Approved Equal: See Equal.

Approved Products List: A list of vendors or products that have been evaluated and have been determined to be capable of satisfactory performance for a specific application. Also see Qualified Products List (QPL), Acceptable Products List (APL), and Approved Source List. Also known as Approved Brands List (ABL).

Approved Source List: Canadian A list of suppliers that can supply specific goods and services and are approved on the basis of the suitability of their facilities and capabilities.

AQL: See Acceptable Quality Level.

Arbitrage: The purchase of securities in one market for immediate resale in another financial market in order to profit from a price discrepancy. Used frequently in international currency transactions to profit from currency fluctuations. Aberrations in financial markets used to make a profit. (Business, 2002)

Arbitrary and Capricious: Actions by whim or caprice, with irrational disregard of facts or circumstances. May be the basis for courts to overrule or remand an administrative decision or ministerial action by a purchaser. A public official’s improper use of discretionary powers to the detriment of the public good.


A process by which a dispute between parties is presented to one or more disinterested parties (arbitrators or neutrals) for a decision whose decision the contending parties agree to accept with no further appeal process also known as binding arbitration.
The resolution of a conflict between parties by a party removed from the dispute.
A form of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Architect: An individual, partnership, or corporation that performs professional architectural services for the agency as an independent contractor. A registered architect is an individual that is trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that have as their principal purpose human occupancy or use. Architects are required to have Errors and Omissions Insurance.

Architectural and Engineering (A & E) Services: Professional services within the scope of the practice of architecture and professional engineering, as defined by the jurisdiction, usually involving research, design, development, construction, alteration, or repair of real property.

Archival Quality: A characteristic of paper and paper products that enables the paper to retain a specified percentage of its original physical and appearance properties for an extended period of time under specified controlled conditions. (Business, 2002)

Articles of Partnership: Legal documents that set forth the basic agreement between partners. (Garner, 2004)

As Is: A contract term describing products offered without guarantee or warranty. All risk is assumed by the purchaser without recourse to the seller.

As To Form: Documents and agreements that are approved by an attorney for legal sufficiency prior to their execution while not commenting on the business merits of their contents. Also see Agreement.


An amount recorded on a contractor’s balance sheet representing the value of property owned by or debts owed to the contractor. Assets may be cash, near-cash, or non-monetary.
The economic resources of a business. (Schiller, 2000)
Assignment: Legal transfer of a claim, right, interest or property.

Assignment of Payment: An authorization from a supplier that allows for their accounts receivable to be paid to a third party. Payments made to a supplier’s creditor.

ASTM: See American Society of Testing and Materials.

ATC: See Average Total Cost.

Atomic Digital Clock Time: The atomic digital clock is located in Fort Collins Colorado and it is the master clock in the United States that provides the precise time as the basis for all other clock systems and for official bid openings. The telephone number to hear your local accurate local time is 1-303-499-7111.

Attach: To take legal possession.

Attorney Work Product Privilege: An exemption under the Freedom of Information Act, which protects documents prepared by an agency’s attorney which reveal the theory of a case or proposed litigation from release. (Nash & Rawicz, 1997)

Auction: A public sale in which property or items of merchandise are sold to the highest bidder. Many governments will auction off government property and may contract with a private auctioneering firm to handle the complete transaction including advertising, the sale and collection of funds, etc. (Miller, 2006)

Auctioning: An unethical practice that can occur during negotiations on competitive sealed proposals if the negotiating team discloses information from one offeror’s proposal to other proposers, who then change their offer so that it matches or is better than the first proposal evaluated. (Harney, 1992)

Audit: A detailed review and examination of records, documents and the business processes with the confirmation by outside experts of a situation or condition concluding with a detailed report of findings. A formal examination or verification of financial accounts or other business operations. Examples include financial, compliance and management audits.

Auditor General of Canada (AG): Canadian Audits government operations and provides the information that helps Parliament to hold the government accountable for its stewardship of public funds. (Summit Magazine, On-Line)

Authority: The right to perform certain acts or prescribe rules governing the conduct of others. (Nash, Rawicz, 1997)

Authorization to Release: Permission to release requested goods to the using agency against existing supply agreements.

Authorized Deviation: A change or deviation specifically allowed by the contracting authority. Also see Amendment, Change Order and Contract Modification.

Automated Data Processing (ADP): Input, storage, and manipulation of information using computer systems, and the discipline which deals with related methods and techniques. Also called Electronic Data Processing.

Automatic Stabilizer: Federal expenditure or revenue item that automatically responds counter cyclically to changes in national income, like unemployment benefits or income taxes.(Bureau of Economic Analysis)

Average: A number that is calculated to summarize a group of numbers. The most commonly used average is the mean – the sum of the numbers divided by however many numbers there are in the group. The median is the middle value in a group of numbers ranked in order of size. The mode is the number that occurs most often in a group of numbers. (Bishop, 2004)

Average Fixed Cost (AFC): Total fixed cost divided by the quantity produced in a given time period. (Schiller, 2000)

Average Propensity to Consume (APC): Total consumption in a given period divided by total disposable income. (Schiller, 2000)

Average Total Cost (ATC): Total cost divided by the quantity produced in a given time period. (Schiller, 2000)


Canadian The notification to a bidder or tenderer of acceptance of a bid or tender which brings the contract into existence.
US The acceptance of a bid or proposal; the presentation of a purchase agreement or contract to a bidder or offeror.
Award by Group: A contract award that can be made to multiple suppliers based on the lowest total price for all items within a specific group. The public entity may group items by classification, commodity code, category, or geographic zone in its best interest. This method allows the public entity to target a logical grouping of bid items to a supplier for contract management purposes. Also known as Class Award.

Award Item by Item: A contract award that may be made to multiple suppliers because each item is awarded typically on the basis of the lowest unit price when being utilized in the bid process. This method offers the best pricing to the public entity but requires significant contract administration if multiple suppliers are selected for award. Also referred to as Line Item Award.

Award Protest: A formal complaint made against the methods employed or decisions made by a procurement authority in the process leading to the award of a contract. Also see Bid Protest and Protest.

Award Value: Canadian The monetary amount of the contract, in Canadian dollars, when awarded.