IG: DOD fails to keep contractor performance records

The Defense Department has paid little attention to keeping past-performance records on contractors, according to a new DOD inspector general report.

DOD’s Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System doesn’t include ratings on all active system contracts worth more than $5 million, according to the report released today. These system contracts include products that require a significant amount of new engineering work and major changes to existing systems, and contractors’ performance on these contracts is a major factor in their chances of getting future contracts from DOD or other departments.

The IG found more problems with performance assessments. When officials entered assessments, 39 percent of 2,499 contracts were registered more than a year late.

Timeliness is important so acquisition officials have good information to make buying decisions, the IG wrote. “As more time passes…the past-performance information becomes less valuable.”

Although timeliness increases the value of the information, officials didn’t write detailed or sufficient narratives. They didn’t convey their reasoning. The assessments had vague language, few facts and unjustified ratings, the report states. The IG found that officials failed to establish credible and justifiable ratings on 82 percent of the 66 reports reviewed.

Officials need to submit a narrative that thoroughly describes the circumstances for a rating, the IG wrote, and added, “It is of the utmost importance."  

The IG recommended issuing a policy that requires acquisition officials to register the information in the database. Just handing out guidance documents doesn’t do enough. “We believe a policy guide is no more than a practical reference tool with suggested requirements,” the IG wrote.

Responding Jan. 17 to a draft of the report, Shay Assad, DOD’s director of defense procurement and acquisition policy, agreed with the recommendations and wrote that by March 31 he would issue  a policy requiring acquisition officials to enter timely assessments into the database. Similarly, Charlie Williams, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for contracting and assistant secretary for acquisition, agreed with the IG’s recommendations.

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