The term “contract” can describe any written or oral agreement between two or more parties which creates obligations that are enforceable or otherwise recognizable at law. See BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 365 (9th ed. 2009). Each year, the federal government enters myriad contracts, as this term is generally understood. Some of these are procurement contracts. However, many others are not and can instead be characterized in other terms, including as concession contracts, public-private partnerships, and intergovernmental agreements. Cooperative and grant agreements could potentially also be seen as contracts for certain purposes. Regardless of their type, all contracts are generally subject to the same interpretative conventions, which can differ from those generally applied when construing statutes and regulations. This “In Focus” provides an overview of key types of contracts entered into by the federal government, as well as major canons in contract interpretation.
Date of Report: February 23, 2015
Order Number: IF10135
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