I have a confession to make. I am a diehard fan of detective and spy movies. The books, too. The only thing that gets my attention more than an episode of Man from UNCLE or I Spy, is science fiction. Yep! I am a Space:1999UFO, Star WarsMartian ChroniclesS is for SpaceBattlestar Galactica (the original one) and Star Trek junkie from way back! 

What I want to talk about today, though, is a well-known secret to the success of the main characters in some of my favorite detective and espionage thrillers. It's not something top-of-mind most of the time but without it, many of the exciting and cool feats they do just wouldn't happen.  

This secret is known as context and it is literally the glue that holds everything together for them, especially during those edge-of-your-seat moments. 

To describe context visually, I use the analogy of a folder full of sensitive information. One of the easiest ways to determine if the information in that folder is important and valuable, is by looking at the markings. If the folder is marked with: 

  • SENSITIVE 
  • TOP SECRET 
  • FOR YOUR EYES ONLY 

or similar, it stands to reason there is stuff in there, important to someone. In the case of the super sleuths and spies like James Bond and Sherlock Holmes, they might have additional insights that would guide them to look in the next folder that's not marked, since the marked one is likely a decoy. That's something an arch nemesis would do, right?

Context is also like Indiana Jones knowing exactly which stones to move in order to open a door to the mummy's tomb, right before the room he's in fills with sand. It's how Agent 007 of Her Majesty's Secret Service knows the right sequence for disarming a doomsday device that will destroy an entire country, with milliseconds to spare. Okay, let's make it a little more realistic. It's like the time MacGyver thwarted robbers in a store he was shopping in, by creating a tear gas device using a hot water bottle, cayenne pepper and vinegar. It's no joke, if you go to sciencing.com, you can find instructions to make your own concoction, just minus the hot water bottle in their recipe 

Here's the thing. No matter if in Hollywood or in real life, each situation is based on someone with timely and relevant knowledge that helped them overcome those situations. This is the basis for understanding and being able to take action.

Scenarios like this plays out everyday in Government Contracting, just with a lot less fanfare and heart-stopping suspense. While the stakes may not be the end of the world as it might be for someone like Bond, it could very well result in negative impacts to reputations, revenues, profits and jobs. 

Context, derived through the acquisition of knowledge, is what gives us the ability to recognize and understand the situations, the words we see and hear and even the people we encounter in the course of any given day. What does this mean in terms of Government Contracting? It influences how decisions are being made every day as companies work to develop a position to win. 

Let's start with something as innocuous as a DoD Activity Address Code or DoDAAC. Also known as an AAC and UIC, it represents a designation that can be used to identify organizations down to the street address level. Which organizations? How about Contracting Offices and Funding Offices. With proper context, you would know that the first six characters of nearly every contract issued by a FAR-based agency represents the identity of the office issuing the contract.  

How is this helpful?  

When the DoDAAC belongs to a contracting activity, it allows for a view of procurement activity at the street address level. This means we have the ability to see who issued a purchase, the vendor, amount, award type, competition and much more. It also helps us understand for whom they were making the buy. This happens most often when a Funding Office ID is present. Automatically, more context comes into play simply through the knowledge that a Funding Office ID is a thing. 

Using a Funding Office DoDAAC/AAC/UIC as the lead search criteria shows everything from the perspective of who provided the money and likely submitted the requisition. Instead of seeing who purchases were made for, you see a clear view of the buyer organization for that specific customer for that specific transaction. You can do the same if you understand the difference and different types of Awards and IDVs, too. I'll delve into those next time.  

Context is tremendously powerful and is literally a superpower to those with different or no context for a given situation. You can see context in full effect during Government Contracting meetings and conferences. Words like SABERIDEASFAPIISScooby Snacks and FastMax likely don't register as important to untrained ears. For those in-the-know, however, it will cause them to redirect their attention to ensure something important is not missed. 

If you find these posts helpful (or at least interesting) please leave a comment below. Thanks! 

Peace and Success,  

Go-To-Guy  

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