FAR Council sets new contract numbering plan

contract signing

Come October 2017, federal agencies must use a new coding system to identify their contract awards and procurement activities, according to a rule issued by the White House council charged with overseeing federal procurement issues.

The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council issued a final rule Oct. 13 giving agencies three years to implement a new numbering plan for contracts issued after that date. The Procurement Instrument Identifier (PIID) will use a series of 13 to 17 letters and numbers to identify a range of details about contracts and their origins.

The new rule is the result of the Government Accountability and Transparency Board's recommendation last year to implement a uniform award identification system for the government's various financial transactions.

The first six numbers of the PIID tie the contract to a particular contracting office. Subsequent numbers identify the fiscal year of the award and the type of contract (such as a blanket purchase agreement or task order), leaving space for adding amendments and modifications.

"Agencies may choose a minimum of four characters up to a maximum of eight characters to be used, but the same number of characters must be used agencywide," the rule states. "If a number less than the maximum is used, do not use leading or trailing zeroes to make it equal the maximum in any system or data transmission. An agency may reserve blocks of numbers or alpha-numeric numbers for use by its various components."

The FAR Council said that until an agency completes its transition to the new numbering system, it should continue using the 2013 PIID format that is on record with the General Services Administration's Integrated Award Environment Program Office, which maintains a registry of each agency's unique identifier scheme. The earlier format consists of letters in the first positions to indicate the agency, followed by alphanumeric characters.

Agencies had raised questions about some of the elements of the new system, including how it would affect contracting software, financial systems and legacy information. They also expressed concerns about a proposed requirement to convert all contracts already in effect to the new structure by Oct. 1, 2016.

The final rule was changed to reflect those concerns. The deadline is now October 2017, giving agencies an additional year to resolve compatibility issues.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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