POGO argues for release of past-performance information
Government officials continue to withold contractor reviews in Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System
- By Matthew Weigelt
- Jan 28, 2011
A government watchdog group is criticizing federal officials for their decision to withhold contractors’ past performance evaluations from public scrutiny, even though the information often is available by searching the Internet. Neil Gordon, an investigator at the Project for Government Oversight, made that argument in a blog post published Jan. 27 on POGO.org.
Gordon’s post comes days after the Government Accountability Office publicly released the details of a commissary contractor's record of unsanitary conditions and unsafe practices that the Defense Department allegedly ignored in awarding a commissary contract to the company.
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GAO included a company’s performance evaluation by the Defense Commissary Agency in its decision regarding a bid protest, which it sustained. The document, which was released Jan. 26, includes a chart that grades the company, Nayyarsons Corp., on its work in areas such as quality of the food and service and overall customer satisfaction. GAO ruled that the Nayyarsons’ work didn’t match the grades commissary agency officials gave the corporation.GAO found emails from DOD officials about “serious problems,” for example, with the sushi at a commissary in Memphis, Tenn. The company used expired food and produced food in unsanitary conditions, according to GAO.
Gordon wrote that since GAO gave out this information on Nayyarsons’ evaluation, government officials should completely open up the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System. FAPIIS is a central site filled with information on companies from numerous other federal databases, such as the Excluded Parties List System and the Past Performance Information Retrieval System.
FAPIIS initially was intended as a central repository for contracting officers and other federal officials and not the public. In 2010, a provision in a supplemental appropriations bill required the government to open the database to the public. Agencies can block only contractors’ past performance reviews.
Business groups have argued against making FAPIIS completely open, particularly the evaluations and past performance reviews. The evaluations could make people in the community rush to judgment about a company. And any errors in the evaluations or even untimely data agencies added late to a review could tarnish a company’s reputation.
This week too, the Obama administration announced that the FAPIIS site would open its doors in mid-April.
Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.