Rise in Multi-award Contracts

My slog through the usaspending.gov data continues. Woohoo!

So, multi-awards are a funny thing.  They're very much on my mind today for a variety of reasons.  As an incumbent, they're terrible, obviously.  As someone trying to break into the market, they're critical.  Your perspective totally depends on the position you're in for the job you're pursuing today.  It'll change tomorrow.

It's no surprise. Your hunch was absolutely right.  As a percent of the total contracts, multi-awards have increased significantly.  (I had to normalize these figures as a percent of the total because the overall downward trend from 2008 to 2013 was misleading.)  

Anyway, you can see here for yourself.  These are the categories assigned by the contracting officers.  By definition, they have an inverse relationship with the single award contracts.  You'll immediately notice that they're not really mutually exclusive.  Most of the sole sources are probably single awards.  It's hard to know on the other two types-- simplified acquisition and unknown.

usaspending.gov data, October 22, 2013

usaspending.gov data, October 22, 2013

The take-away here is really just a validation of what we've all been experiencing over and over again.  I do think it's interesting to think about the impact on the contracting community-- and our clients.  Multiple awards offer a number of competitive benefits at the task order level but are significantly more work for to administer.  It'll be interesting to see the trends on these contract types in coming years.  Budget pressures may force them to look at acquisition staff and workload then find ways to streamline.  We will see.

I played around some today with a couple of different trends and spent some time looking at contract duration.  I didn't see anything interesting.  If you're seeing a trend in shorter or longer contracts, let me know and I can check on a specific market.  There wasn't anything I could see in the overall total. 

One thing I'm interested in but finding it's not easy to get at-- at least with this current dataset-- are trends in scopes of work.  Each of the 180K+ lines of data has a unique description of the actual work to be performed under the contract.  You'll see some common terms around project/program management and training but there are just gobs of random others.  I'm also not totally confident that these short descriptions capture the essence of what's being done.  I spot checked a handful of the contracts I'm personally familiar with and thought, eh, sort of.  If I think of a better, easier way to do this, I'll share.