In government contracting, there are so many ways to buy products and services. Multiple award, commercial, simplified acquisition, micro purchase, letter contract, GSA contract, logical follow-on, sealed bid, down select, lowest price with acceptable rating, highest technical rating with best price, limited source, one source, unusual urgency, Economy Act, and more. It can be overwhelming. NOTE: There are Contracting Officer Podcast episodes for each of those topics I listed (see the full library at

When navigating this enormous number of options, the best way to get started is by making a few key decisions that will then drive many of the follow-on decisions. One of those key decisions is to choose a “Path to Competition”. Every acquisition follows one of 3 paths to competition.

In this episode, Kevin and Paul outline the 3 paths, along with examples of how to recognize which path is a fit for each acquisition, and why.