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A Beginner's Guide to Long-Range Acquisition Forecasts (LRAFs)

capture management lraf Jan 20, 2024

Are you getting the maximum value from long-range acquisition forecasts (LRAFs) for the federal marketplace?

These procurement forecasts alert small businesses to future opportunities and contain a wealth of government contracting market research for small business vendors.

On January 17, 2024, 100 people joined Neil McDonnell for a LinkedIn live training called “A Beginner's Guide to Federal Agency Long-Range Acquisition Forecasts in 2024."  In this review, we walk step by step to illustrate how to get the most value from these documents.

What are the two biggest barriers to success in government contracting?

According to small business owners, the biggest challenges are:

  1. Finding federal contracting opportunities and
  2. Building relationships in their target agency

You can achieve both by leveraging long-range acquisition forecasts as part of your sales process. Your goal is to find the right opportunities that align with your business and the right agency buyer to connect with. You are not just trying to pack your sales pipeline with a ‘data dump’.

Read the step by step descriptions below to learn:

  • how to find the right forecasts
  • how to qualify opportunities that align with your core competencies and
  • how to find the right point of contact for your small business.


Also known as procurement forecasts, long-range acquisition forecasts list upcoming federal contracting opportunities. LRAFs alert vendors to potential contracting opportunities early in the procurement process.

Federal executive agencies are required to provide a forecast of expected contract opportunities, including those that small businesses can fulfill.

Some forecasts include projections of anticipated contracts above the simplified acquisition threshold that women-owned businesses, HUBZone, 8(a)-certified, and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses may be able to perform under direct contracts with the government, or through subcontracting.


Long-range acquisition forecasts usually signal activity 1-2 years ahead. Some agencies publish forecasts for compliance reasons only. Others – like the Department of Commerce – maintain their forecasts with frequent updates.


Ideally, long-range acquisition forecasts are presented in spreadsheets to allow for data manipulation The typical fields include:

  • Title and description
    • What criteria define your slam dunk opportunity?
    • Does this opportunity fit within your scope of work and expertise?
  • Value (award ranges)
    • What is the maximum size contract you can handle?
    • Be realistic - usually 100% of current revenue is a good maximum
  • RFP date
    • The estimated release date tells you how much time you have for capture activities.
  • POCs (points of contact)
    • Not always accurate but helpful.
    • Don't stop with them, but use them to reach other POCs
  • Place of performance
    • Think about what restrictions you have like only being able to work in a 25-mile range or CONUS compared to OCONUS.
  • Optional:
    • NAICS codes, contract type and more.

The GovCon Chamber has centralized 2024 LRAFs into a central directory of long-range acquisition forecasts. It is the most complete directory available. ACCESS HERE



Follow this process to sort through thousands of opportunities and get a final list of “qualified” slam-dunk opportunities for your company. 

To narrow your search, it is important to know exactly what your slam dunk opportunity is. To avoid accidentally eliminating opportunities, don't filter the initial data.

Even if you have to dedicate a couple of hours to scroll through thousands of opportunities to discover an opportunity with your NAICS codes, wouldn’t that be time well spent?

  1. Sort by NAICS
    • Each time you download the forecast, you will just need to compare and look at new listings.
  2. First Pass:
    • Look for titles that catch your eye, then highlight any possibles.
    • Look at the title and description, just the first few words, and if it looks remotely possible, highlight it.
  3. Second Pass:
    • Review the full descriptions and details of your highlighted opportunities to decide whether it becomes an unqualified opportunity.
    • The goal is to reduce “unlimited” opportunities into a list of “unqualified” opportunities.
  4. Third Pass
    • Reduce the “unqualified” opportunities, until only qualified opportunities remain.


How to Use a LRAF to Pursue a Federal Agency

Once you have identified a specific ‘slam dunk opportunity’ from an agency long-range acquisition forecast, you move into the Capture Management phase of federal sales.

Let’s use the U.S. Department of Commerce as our example. Start at the Office of Acquisition Management. which supports the various acquisition, grants, program management, cost estimation, risk, and audit communities. 

Department of Commerce procurement forecasts are updated weekly in excel format and includes quarterly updates for previously posted forecasts when available.

Step by step: Preparing your spreadsheet of opportunities

  1. Download the LRAF as a spreadsheet and freeze the top pane of data to keep this area of a worksheet visible while you scroll to another area of the worksheet
  2. Turn on a filter to hide the top two rows that we don’t need to make browsing easy. It is important to learn how to use spreadsheet tools to your advantage.
  3. Set your filter to begin searching the data. For example, you may want to filter for NOAA or Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data often prompts more opportunities to learn about your target agency.
  4. Review column headings:  office, organization, organization unit, title, description, NAICS codes
  5. Shrink column widths so you can see the key data you need to review
  6. Competition strategy, sole-source, recompete, new requirements
  7. Identify the POC for the opportunity (name and email for points of contact) listed in the forecast

Step by step: Identify slam-dunk opportunities listed in the LRAF spreadsheet

  1. Sort by NAICS codes 
  2. Filter to only show the next 2 years of contract opportunities
  3. Scroll through the Description column to look for keywords in your area of expertise, as well as associated NAICS codes
  4. Highlight any that catch your eye to review later

Step by step: Create a list of people who matter to this opportunity

  1. Who is the Small Business Professional, the Contracting Officer (CO / KO) or Contracting Specialist?
  2. Once you find an opportunity, verify the Small Business Professional listed in the LRAF.
  3. If you find the POC is not in the group you want, ask for an introduction to the right contact.
  4. Verify the program office where the work is really being done.
  5. Review any available website, budget and strategy documents for that office
  6. Create an outreach plan before you make your first call. Inform yourself first.
    • Imagine if you called them and said, “Hey, I was reading your strategic plan on page five, it said XYZ. Do you have a second to talk about that?”
    • Once you show you've done your homework, you can guide the discussion towards the opportunity.


One of the reasons federal agencies create long-range forecasts is to find qualified vendors to help them achieve their mission. We know that government sales is a process of starting conversations that focus on understanding their problems, their goals – not yours.

When you are building relationships, don't rush into talking about a prospective opportunity listed in the LRAF. If you listen twice as much as you speak, you can become more informed than your competitors and more prepared to partner with your targeted agency.

Next Steps:

  1. Engage with other government contractors in today's live event
  2. Read: Federal Agency Acquisition Forecasts for Government Contractors
  3. Download the 2024 Federal Agency Long Range Acquisition Forecasts
  4. Subscribe to our GovCon Success newsletter 

  5. Follow me (Neil McDonnell) on LinkedIn and hit the đź”” on my profile to see more government contracting content like 25,715 other people do.


99% of the way there.

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