In the United States, Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) is a Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) term defining a non-developmental item (NDI) of supply that is both commercial and sold in substantial quantities in the commercial marketplace, and that can be procured or utilized under government contract in the same precise form as available to the general public. For example, technology related items, such as computer software, hardware systems or free software with commercial support, and construction materials qualify, but bulk cargo, such as agricultural or petroleum products, do not.
COTS purchases are alternatives to in-house developments or one-off government-funded developments. COTS typically requires configuration that is tailored for specific uses. The use of COTS has been mandated across many government and business programs, as such products may offer significant savings in procurement, development, and maintenance.