This diagram has three rings. The inner ring represents federal agencies, like the Department of Defense, which are sized by the total dollar amounts they spent on contracts in FY 17. The middle ring represents sub-agencies, like the Air Force, which in most cases actually award contracts to contractors. The outer ring represents the contractors who receive awards from those sub-agencies.
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The federal government uses contracts to buy the things it needs, from office furniture to airplanes. It also uses contracts to buy services ranging from internet to research and development. Federal agencies and their sub-agencies are responsible for issuing contracts and categorizing the goods and services they purchase using Product and Service Codes (PSC).
Although contracts and grants share some similarities, each serves a different purpose. Generally, contracts allow the government to purchase goods and services it will use to execute its mission, while grants allow the government to provide goods and services directly to the public. For example, the Air Force uses contracts to acquire fighter jets to execute its mission, while the Federal Highway Administration uses grants to provide funds to states for public roads.