If you have ever received an award from a federal agency and wondered what all the numbers and letters meant, then you are not alone. Each letter and number contained in a Federal Contract or Purchase Order has a specific meaning. The letters identify what agency issued the purchase order, what type of funding was used (either military or civil funding); the fiscal year the order was issued in; the type of purchase vehicle (a contract, purchase order, as request for quotation, a request for bid or proposal) and finally the numerical identification that is the next in line to be utilized.
I will show you a hypothetical purchase order number that would have been issued by the Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District an example would be DACA31-09-P-0001. The first two letters "DA" represent the Department of the Army, the "C" is for the Corps of Engineers, "A" indicates military funding was used to procure the items on the purchase order. The next set of numbers is "31", this number changes to match the district that wrote the order, "31" is for Baltimore District. The following number on the purchase order is "09", this number indicates the fiscal year the order was written in. The next letter in my example is a "P" this letter indicates that the purchase order fell into the small purchase area. This letter can change depending on the nature of the purchase order, an example would be "D" for an indefinite delivery type contract, or "C" for a contract that is over the small business threshold, or "F" which would indicate that the purchase was made from an existing GSA contract. The last four numbers in the order are the sequential numbers that show how many orders were written. In my example, "0001" would be the first order written in fiscal year "09".
All agencies within the Federal government use almost the same identifiers, whether you are dealing with the Department of the Navy, Social Security Administration, or Department of Hud. They all have to identify where they are located at, what type of award they are presenting, what fiscal year they are in, what the color of money is (military or civil) and the next sequential number in their ordering system.
So do not feel lost when you are looking at that purchase order that you just received from the federal government. The person who issued the order knows exactly what each letter and number stand for, its all in deciphering the code. Good luck.