Council steps up importance of contractor performance in proposed rule change

The Federal Acquisition Regulation Council has designed a more structured approach for federal procurement officials to document a company's performance on a contract, with definitions and all. The proposal, one expert said, should be taken as a message from federal regulators to procurement officers.

That message: “By virtue of bringing this issue up again, the FAR Council is really saying that they expect past performance to be a more serious and consistent evaluation factor than previously,” said Larry Allen, president of the Allen Federal Business Partners.

The proposal essentially takes the rules that are already on the books and attempts to strengthen them, Allen said.

The FAR Council has proposed, among other changes, adding two tables for past performance evaluations. One defines general evaluation definitions for a company's work and the other charts small-business subcontracting. The evaluation ratings definitions are based on guidance provided in the Defense Department’s Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System policy guide.

Officials want procurement officials to include reviews on the quality of a contractor’s product or service and the companies’ cost controls, schedule, business relationships, and small-business contracting. Officials can add more information they believe is important.

The council wants contracting officers to rate a company on how it met the negotiated subcontracting goals and if it did an “exceptional” job of aiding various types of small companies, such as those owned by service-disabled veterans or women. The council is receiving comments on the proposal through Nov. 5.

Past performance evaluations are already required in many circumstances and are supposed to be available on several databases, including the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, Allen said. Most of the time, the government passes to contractors the responsibility of meeting regulatory requirements. However, the past performance evaluations are something different.

“Usually, the government just makes the contractor do it whenever possible. So, it’s not too much of a surprise that new directives have to come out to remind [contracting officers] of what they’re already supposed to do,” he said.

In the past two years, speeches by DOD and General Services Administration acquisition officials have continually discussed past performance evaluations and their importance to contracting, he said.

“The proposed rule just makes such rhetoric more formal and visible,” he said.

About the Author

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

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