Contract performance reporting improves, but not good enough

Monday - 8/11/2014, 5:14pm EDT

By Stephanie Wasko
Special to Federal News Radio

Although agency compliance with evaluating and reporting contractor performance has improved 17 percent overall in the past year, the majority of agencies have not met the targets set by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, according to the Government Accountability Office.

In March 2013, OFPP established performance evaluation targets for Chief Financial Officer Act agencies. The memo required agencies to establish past baselines and set quarterly targets to meet the annual target set by OFPP. The targets are set at 100 percent for FY 2015.

According to the set targets, all agencies should have reached 65 percent compliance by April of this year, but only two of the top 10 agencies met that goal.

Compliance at the Defense Department grew from 76 percent in April 2013 to 83 percent this past April, making it the agency with the highest compliance rate. The Department of the Interior saw the largest increase in its compliance rate — from just 15 percent in 2013 to 51 percent compliance this year. The General Services Administration had the lowest results of the top 10 agencies at only 13 percent compliance.

Rate of Compliance with Past Performance Reporting Requirement as of April 2013 and April 2014 for Top 10 Agencies. Based on Number of Evaluations Due Compliance Rate as of:
AgencyApril 2013April 2014
Defense76%83%
Treasury4771
Interior1551
Homeland Security3445
Justice2129
Agriculture1327
Veterans Affairs425
HHS1024
State315
GSA313
Other Agencies3247
Total federal government32%49%
Source: Past Performance Information Retrieval System| GAO-14-707

Agencies are required to perform these evaluations on contracts exceeding a certain price range, GAO stated. The evaluations provide agencies with past-performance information they can use when making procurement decisions as is required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

Along with the FAR, section 853 of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act calls for a strategy to "ensure that timely, accurate and complete information on contractor performance is included in past performance databases," the report stated.

OFPP continues to encourage agencies to implement contractor evaluations by emphasizing requirements, developing a compliance-tracking tool, setting performance targets and consolidating past performance information systems, GAO found.

OFPP is changing and improving evaluation methods and policies as well.

One such change included in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013 includes giving contractors only 14 days to comment on agency performance evaluations. As of July 1, the allowed time period for contractors to discuss, comment or add information to evaluation results was cut from 30 days to 14, according to the report. Any comments given after the set time will be added to the evaluation already submitted to the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS).

To help agencies follow these requirements, OFPP is working with the General Services Administration's Integrated Award Environment, the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) program office and the FAR Council to "consolidate systems for entering past performance information and to develop government-wide past performance guidance, enhance FAR requirements, and change the contractor comment process."

OFPP's administrator chose CPARS to act as the governmentwide system for collecting contractor performance information.

GAO interviewed an OFPP official who stated OFPP plans to continue strengthening reporting compliance by:

  • Collaborating with agency senior procurement executives to increase management oversight and leadership;

  • Working with the FAR Council on the development of additional regulatory guidance, as necessary, to standardize reporting practices and improve agency consideration of past performance information;

  • Directing the Federal Acquisition Institute to develop useful training aids to ensure agencies know how to consider performance information prior to contract awards and rate a contractor's performance during the post-award process;

  • Overseeing the General Services Administration's Integrated Award Environment on system enhancements to ensure agencies have a practical reporting tool with useful performance metrics to manage and monitor not only reporting compliance but also quality reporting of performance information; and

  • Conducting outreach with internal and external stakeholders to garner their thoughts on ways to improve past performance information reporting.

Stephanie Wasko is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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