While there are almost as many types of project contract types out there as there are projects, you will always have your heavy hitters which are used more frequently than others. Among these types of project contracts, two are worthy of very specific note – IDIQ vs BPA.

Before going into the details of IDIQ vs BPA contracts and agreements, let’s first give some high-level points about each.

The main aspects of an IDIQ are:

  • A contract with minimum and maximum amounts agreed when created
  • The delivery dates and quantity are not agreed on at the inception
  • It is a binding contract, so the contractor will be obligated to deliver what has been included


The main points of a BPA are:

  • It is an agreement, not an actual contract
  • A price list of quotes will be generated by the contractor, but it is non-binding and no quantity or delivery dates are set
  • Very useful for orders that will be repeatedly placed

IDIQ vs BPAWhat Is An IDIQ Contract

IDIQ stands for “indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity.”

While the full name does give some hints in regards to the context and purpose of the contract, the nuance is a bit deeper. Government IDIQ contracts are set for a fixed period of time, during that period of time the contractor is responsible for an unlimited number of separate projects, or additional work on a current project.

In other words, an IDIQ contract is an agreement in which specifics such as the delivery date and exact quantity can be determined later.

What Is A BPA Contract

BPA, on the other hand, stands for “blanket purchase agreement”.

Interestingly enough, BPAs are often thought of as contracts, but they actually aren’t. As the name suggests, they are simply agreements.

A BPA establishes a working agreement between the contract holder and the contractor which removes the need to establish additional contracts per project or per service, so long as a specified budget has not been passed.

One easy way to think of a BPA is that it is a collection of non-binding quotes that help keep all parties up to date with specific procurement details before formally agreeing to a project.

What is the difference between IDIQ and BPAWhat Is The difference Between IDIQ And BPA?

While both of these might appear to be very similar at first, and do in fact share an end goal of reducing project overhead costs while keeping quality as high as possible, there are some key differences in the battle between IDIQ vs BPA which affect when and how they should be utilized.

So, what is the difference between IDIQ and BPA? Let’s start with the fundamentals of why we choose between any type of contract. When analyzing any contract or agreement, there are a couple of key factors which determine the nature of said contract, the important ones in this case are contract term and contract budget. Usually multiple contracts across multiple projects ends up ensuring that both the terms and budgets for said projects are carefully controlled and respected. In order to avoid such an amount of work when it is unnecessary, control need to be given up either in terms of the contract term or the contract budget, which is where IDIQ and BPA contracts differ.

In an IDIQ contract, the main deciding factor of the contract is the contract term. While the term is controlled and fixed, the pricing is not, which allows projects to scale up or down in relation to budget. A BPA on the other hand focuses on the budget, but does not fix or specify a term other than when the budget is depleted. This allows projects to scale in relation to time as opposed to budget.

When to use a BPAPros And Cons Of Using A BPA vs IDIQ

Both contracts require the contract holder to give up some level of control when it comes to the specifications of each individual service request. As such, they should only be used when working with a trusted contractor on projects which share very similar or very simple specifications. This ensures that the contractor is more likely to receive the level of work they are expecting, despite the lack of finer detailing.

Even more specific than that, due to the earlier distinctions between time and budget we have made the contracts can be tailored even more. Using the example of say, a residential housing project, let us imagine that this project is set to take place over the course of three years. This situation requires the construction of many similar buildings. If during the course of these three years, if there was a chance of the project either incorporating additional houses, or reducing the planned amount of houses, then an IDIQ contract would be best suited as it fits within the time period and does not restrict budget changes. On the other hand, if said project was given only a fixed budget instead of a fixed time, then the BPA contract format would make more sense.

For more distinctions about the specifics of the pros and cons of using a BPA vs IDIQ, please see the following sections.

When To Use An IDIQ

An IDIQ is recommended for situations where similar items are likely to be ordered repeatedly, but the amounts and specifics of the timing are not yet determined. However, minimum and maximum thresholds will be set, so if the budget is a concern, this may not be the best solution.

Ultimately, IDIQs benefit both the contractors and the contracting agency by keeping options from multiple vendors easily available, without locking either side into financial situations that may become a burden in the future.

When To Use A BPA

To understand when to use a BPA, you should also consider the starting point of a repetitive ordering task that would benefit both sides by reducing time and complexity. However, BPAs can be faster than IDIQs to set up, so that can be a consideration if time is of the essence. The downside, of course, is that there is no minimum value set in place when the agreement is formalized, so contractors won’t be guaranteed a pre-specified amount.


To further complicate matters, many also wonder how a “basic ordering agreement” (BOA) compares. In the debate of IDIQ vs BPA vs BOA, remember that IDIQ is an explicit contract, while the other two are just agreements.

There is one key difference between BPAs and BOAs, and that is that BOAs don’t include a price list when they are created. Instead, they lay out a method that will be used to determine the prices if the need should arise.


Finally, we should mention the difference between a GWAC vs IDIQ vs BPA. Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC) are a form of IDIQ, but they can apply to multiple Government agencies instead of just one of them.