There are a lot of terms and acronyms that come with being a contractor, so check out our handy list below if you ever come across something you don’t recognize! We plan to keep adding to this list, and suggestions are welcome.

CAGE Code– Commercial and Government Entity code. This is an alphanumerical identifier that you are assigned when you register in and is required for any and all entities that are doing business with the US Government. These codes expire after 5 years!

CO– Contracting Officer. This is the person or position that has the ability to enter into, negotiate, and terminate contracts, especially with regards to state or federal government. The CO oversees the COTR.

COTR– Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative. This is the person who, especially in contracts with the state or federal government, oversees your contract and deliverables and serves as a go-between for you and the institution you are contracting for.

DUNS Number– A 9 digit identifier unique to your business, often used by contract management systems such as SAM. You can register your business for a DUNS number for free.

LLC– Limited liability company, a business type that can be owned and run by one person but in which there is a legal distinction between the individual and the company. Many people who choose to contract long-term form this kind of business because it has more liability protections.

Quote– What you submit in response to an RFQ. Everywhere does it a little differently (check out our resources page for some examples we have collected), but this generally includes a description of what services you will provide and how much you will charge for them.

RFQ– Request for Quote. These are documents and announcements that are sometimes distributed by organizations and institutions who are looking for contractors to apply for a specific project. Think of them like a job announcement, but to respond to one you submit a quote instead of an application.

SAM– System for Award Managment, the federal website with which one has to register their business in order to contract with any branch of the federal government.

Sole proprietorship– type of enterprise which is run entirely by one person and in which there is no legal distinction between the business and the individual. Many contractors initial set themselves up as sole-proprietors because it is considered the easiest way to get started.

Sole sourcing– An arrangement in which a contract is awarded to a specific entity without an RFQ announcement. Usually this requires the organization to write a justification explaining why the person or company hired is the only feasible option for the contract in question.