Final rule sets new categories, factors for evaluating past performance

Thursday - 8/1/2013, 7:09pm EDT

By Cogan Schneier
Special to Federal News Radio

The Federal Acquisition Regulations Council is providing new procedures for recording past performance data on contractors.

The Defense Department, General Services Administration and NASA issued a final rule in the Federal Register today amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to provide factors for governmentwide standardized past performance evaluations.

Reports should evaluate a contractor's performance on a host of factors, from cost control and technical quality to business relations. Evaluations also may include relevant subfactors. Report factors will be tailored to the nature of the contract, with respect to its size, complexity, content and type.

In an effort to improve the documentation of contractor performance, the rule requires the FAR to provide performance rating categories for the different factors. The rating categories include exceptional, very good, satisfactory, marginal and unsatisfactory. Ratings must be justified based on objective facts and significant events.

For example, to justify an exceptional rating, a report must identify multiple instances or events and state how they were of benefit to the government. For a "very good" rating, a report must identify one event that was of benefit to the government. A contractor cannot receive below a "satisfactory" rating if it completes all its requirements.

For "marginal" and "unsatisfactory" ratings, the reports must identify problems the contractor had trouble overcoming, and how these problems then impacted the government.

The rule also outlined the procedure for reporting past performance evaluations. Agencies must assign responsibility for submitting reports; otherwise the contracting officer must do so. The person in charge of submitting reports must provide the opportunity for everyone involved in the contracting process, from technical officers to end users, to give input on the contractor's performance.

Past performance information must be entered into CPARS. After the reports are submitted, they will then be provided to contractors, who may then offer comment, the rule said.

The changes also include a new requirement for past performance reports to use clear, non-technical descriptions of the order purpose. Agencies also must conduct frequent evaluations of how well they are meeting past performance evaluation requirements in order to identify delinquent reports, the rule stated.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy has been trying to improve the quality of data in federal procurement for several years.

Recently, OFFP has focused on encouraging agencies to record data on contractors' past performances more consistently and accurately.

Cogan Schneier is an intern for Federal News Radio.

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