Bob Mander, founder of, has become an expert on government acronyms of all kinds.

As a technical writer of government documents for 10 years, Mander has assembled a resource library where government workers, contractors, NGOs, elected officials and their staffs, the media, public policy students, interested citizens and lobbyists can go when they don’t have a clue what a specific government acronym means.

Mander has reviewed countless federal and state documents to gather more than 57,000 acronyms for the site, and he expects that number to grow to a minimum of 70,000. Govlish includes databases for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. "Information overload is as big a problem as no information at all. We feature tools to help users trace acronyms through the murky maze of government bureaucracy, and we include pronunciations where they are spoken as words, not their letters," Mander told GPN. Mander says his research shows there are more than 14 million Google searches a month for government acronyms, and he expects to become the go-to destination for answers.

"Most people cringe when they see or hear government acronyms. But they serve very useful purposes. Imagine if you had to say 'National Aeronautics and Space Administration' every time, instead of 'NASA.' At their best, they serve as brands. They are how government Tweets," Mander explains.

Among findings uncovered in Mander's research, Texas leads the states in the number of acronyms it uses, with about 4,400, and Wyoming, the smallest state by population, has the fewest at about 550. "In general, the number of acronyms follows a state's population. No, we don't find any differences between the Red States and the Blue States," he says.

Mander also expects that Govlish will serve as a platform on which users build communities where they share information, opinions, views and experiences, and where they can leverage their numbers to interact effectively with government.

State and local government officials need to know federal acronyms, Mander told GPN. “Through block grants and other sharing programs, a number of federal programs/entities appear regularly in state government websites and documents.”

Mander is aiming to help procurement officials and government sales staffs with another tool. has developed the "Contracting Desktop Companion," which so far includes about 1,260 acronyms that government sales managers need to know. “It's a product designed for users to keep on their desktop as a handy reference. It includes not only the basics from GSA, SBA and OMB, but a great many of the individual Federal agency procurement offices and programs,” says Mander.

He offers this advice for government sales managers: “Start with the basic acronyms frequently and regularly used throughout the federal government that typically originate with the three agencies most responsible for government
contracting: General Services Administration (GSA), U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Some useful acronym categories, says Mander:
RFP, RFQ (and the rest of the "Request" terms),
GSA contract schedules, (e.g., TAPS, MOBIS, GWAC, etc.)
SBA categories (e.g., DBE, HUBZone, MBE, SDB, SDVOSB, and SCORE).

Mander says that knowing the above categories will provide a basic level of literacy for government sales managers to build on. GPN readers who need help with specific procurement-type acronyms should send their queries to the following e-mail:

This video shows how can help demystify the language of government.


To get connected and stay up-to-date with similar content from American City & County:
Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
Watch us on Youtube