Officials mark rules for major contractor database

The broad database contains specific information on contractors' and grantees' reliability and history of work with the government

The Obama administration has settled on the details of a contractor database, as it intends to gather more information to keep a closer eye on government contractors.

Officials have finalized its regulation of the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS), according to today’s Federal Register.

“We’ll be able to see, before any new contract is awarded, whether a company plays by the rules, how well they’ve performed in the past: Did they finish the job on time? Did the company provide good value? Did the company blow their budget? It’s your money, so you deserve to know how it’s spent and who these contracts are going to,” President Barack Obama said March 10.

Obama and other administration officials have started tougher oversight of the private sector because, they believe, it works too closely with the federal government.

The FAPIIS database contains specific information on the federal contractors and grantees’ reliability and history of work with the government. The database is available for use in award decisions at www.ppirs.gov.

FAPIIS is intended to significantly enhance the scope of information available to contracting officers as they evaluate prospective contractors competing for their contracts. Officials also hope to protect taxpayers by not having work done by contractors who are not responsible, according to the Federal Register notice.

Contracting officers now must consider all the information in FAPIIS and Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) when making a “responsibility determination” about a company. The officers also must notify the agency official responsible for debarments or suspensions if the information appears appropriate for the official’s consideration, the rule states.

On the other side, contractors are required to confirm the information related to criminal, civil and administrative proceedings in which they were found at fault. They then must report the information to FAPIIS. They also have to update their profile every six months throughout the life of a contract. Contractors update the information in the Central Contractor Registration database.

In the fiscal 2009 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress required the administration to establish FAPIIS as a one-stop shop for contractor data. Lawmakers say information on companies was spread too widely in too many separate databases.

In the past, contracting officers historically had access to readily available government information only on suspensions and debarments as they determined a bidding company’s past work. That information was included in the Excluded Parties List Systems.

Since the summer of 2009, agencies have been required to submit electronic records of contractor performance into the PPIRS. The goal is to have a large amount of information from the agencies available to contracting officers across the government. To expand the amount of data in the FAPIIS, officials intend to collect state-level information on contractors in connection with the award or performance of a contract or grant with a state, according to the notice.

“This rulemaking and the associated launch of FAPIIS are part of an ongoing initiative by the administration to increase consideration of contractor integrity and the quality of a contractor’s performance in awarding federal contracts,” the notice states.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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