We have a tender document, and it lists how the offer should be proposed. Basically this is split into 3 sections:

  1. Rationale
  2. Strategy
  3. Details of Proposal

Under section 2., there is this clause:

A description of the support facilities (back-stopping) that the contractor and his team will have during the execution of the contract

What does the phrase 'back-stopping' mean, in this context? Just for reference, below you can find the entire content of 2. Strategy.


  • An outline of the approach proposed for contract implementation.
  • A list of the proposed activities considered to be necessary to achieve the contract objectives
  • The related inputs and outputs
  • In the case of a tender being submitted by a consortium, a description of the input from each of the consortium partners and the distribution and interaction of tasks and responsibilities between them
  • A description of the support facilities (back-stopping) that the contractor and his team will have during the execution of the contract
  • A description of sub-contracting arrangements foreseen, if any and within the limit indicated in clause 3 of the Instructions to tenderers, with a clear indication of the tasks that will be entrusted to a sub-contractor and a statement by the tenderer guaranteeing the eligibility of any sub-contractor
  • 1
    Also see pictures of backstops that illustrate the usual sense in the U.S. of backstop Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 16:13
  • I reccomend moving this to ELL. Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 16:40
  • 1
    Yes, a "back stop" is the fence behind "home plate" in baseball, and it serves to prevent foul balls from flying backwards into the bleachers. By analogy, anything that stops/deflects/controls errant objects or activities is a "back stop".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 23:23

2 Answers 2


/ˈbakˌstäp/ Noun A person or thing placed at the rear of or behind something as a barrier, support, or reinforcement. Verb Support or reinforce: "the founding banks were backstopping the loans".

Your document pretty much defines it as support facilities and then puts this equivalent colloquialism in parentheses.

In this case, they are using a bit of license (not much) with a word that is already a metaphor. They use it to mean that capability that they have to support or back-up (stand behind) their activities in relation to the execution of their responsibilities.

In this case, I would read it as "capabilities to mitigate risk (prevent things from going wrong)," just as the physical backstop keeps the ball on the field, where it can be controlled.

  • 1
    I learned the term as "bat-stop", as in a fence or net that stops bats after the hitter swings and throws the bat away. If that were the root term, that would make back-stop a back-formation. Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 17:58
  • @AlexChaffee - I've only ever (in the US) heard "back-stop".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 6, 2017 at 12:15
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    "Back-stop" is correct, not "bat-stop". It stops wild pitches and foul balls much more often than it stops thrown bats.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Oct 6, 2017 at 12:28

The term "backstopping" is used widely in project management and project application prosa, especially in the context of international projects, i.e. where everybody speaks English, but not everybody very well. I suppose that very little of those people who use it know its etymology or initial use-case. When saying "backstopping", people usually mean "support", often especially "support through some larger unit or office in the background that actually does not much, but at least could provide support in case something goes terribly wrong, e.g. find a new project manager or pay for damages.

I have met "backstopping" often in both calls for proposals by the European Union, and project applications written for those programmes.

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