Vendor past performance data not up to par

Tuesday - 5/26/2009, 4:18pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
FederalNewsRadio

Agencies are making contract award decisions without being able to fully account for vendor past performance.

The Government Accountability Office says agencies lack incentive or accountability to use the Past Performance Information Retrieval System, or PPIRS, and they do not have a standard way to evaluate or rate vendors.

These shortcomings has led to little assurance that agencies have the best information to make awards based on vendor past performance.

GAO makes six recommendations to improve past performance data. Auditors say the Office of Federal Procurement Policy standardize evaluation factors for documenting contractor performance.

OFPP also should define governmentwide roles for managing and overseeing PPIRS.

The audit agency also says agencies should establish procedures and management controls for documenting vendor performance in PPIRS.

The Federal Acquisition Council should finalize changes to the FAR to clarify responsibilities and documentation requirements for contracts awarded under the General Services Administration's multiple award schedules.

GAO reviewed 62 contracts from five agencies: the departments of Defense, Energy and Homeland Security as well as GSA and NASA.

Auditors also talked to 121 contracting officers at 11 buying offices to get their take on how past performance is used.

"The ranking of past performance as an evaluation factor relative to other non-cost factors varied," auditors find.

"In most of the solicitations, the company's technical approach to work was the non-cost factor ranked most important, but for 38 percent of these contracts, past performance was ranked as the most important or tied for the most important non-cost factor."

GAO also finds that contracting officers rarely use past performance to make award decisions.

"Generally, officials relied on technical approach or cost as primary deciding factors when awarding the contract," the report states.

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On the Web:

FederalNewsRadio -- Acquisition oversight to shift to vendors

GAO -- Better Performance Information Needed to Support Agency Contract Award Decisions (pdf)

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