March 21, 2014 by cs
An agency reasonably considered the quantity of offerors’ relevant past performance, even though the solicitation only stated that the relevance and quality of past performance would be considered.
In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the quantity of an offeror’s past performance is logically encompassed within a review of the quality of past performance, and need not be separately identified as an area of evaluation.
The GAO’s decision in A&D General Contracting, Inc., B-409296 (Feb. 24, 2014) involved an Army Corps of Engineers solicitation for services to support military construction and repair projects. The solicitation was issued as a small business set-aside. Evaluation was to follow a two-phase process. In the first phase, the Corps would consider past performance and technical approach. The most highly rated proposals would be invited to participate in phase two.
The solicitation stated that offerors’ past performance would be evaluated for relevance and quality. In this regard, offerors were instructed to provide up to five examples of their recent, relevant projects. The solicitation stated that the Corps would assign an overall performance confidence assessment rating based on the overall relevance and quality of the offeror’s past performance.
Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/gaobidprotests/past-performance-agency-reasonably-considered-quantity
August 15, 2013 by cs
A proposed rule published Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013 would update the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to help agencies consider past performance of contractors in awarding new work while shortening the comment period available to affected firms. The industry appears receptive.
As required by the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) President Obama signed on Jan. 2, the Defense Department, the General Services Administration and NASA drafted a rule to allow data on contractor past performance to be added to two databases, the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) and the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS). The rule would also give contractors 14 days to submit comments, rebuttals or additional information in the database, rather than the current 30 days.
“It is important for past performance information to be shared with source selection officials immediately, so that award decisions can be better informed and made in a more timely manner,” the proposed rule states. “Expediting the time allotted to contractors to respond to performance evaluations should improve communication between the contractor and the government, enable current information to be shared quickly throughout the government, and ultimately ensure the government does business with high performing contractors.”
July 8, 2013 by cs
The Defense Department has completed significantly more contractor performance assessments in recent years, in terms of both number and percentage, a report from the Government Accountability Office says.
The department completed more than 33,000 performance assessments in fiscal 2012, compared to about 20,000 the previous year and 16,000 the year before that.
As of April 2013, DoD had submitted 74 percent of required assessments, up from 56 percent in October 2011. Required assessments have a period of performance during the prior 3 years and meet the dollar threshold for reporting.
The GAO report, released June 27, credits the improvements to several efforts, including expanded training. In 2012, DoD trained more than 7,000 officials to assess contractor past performance, compared to about 3,600 in 2011 and 3,100 in 2010.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/dod-steps-contractor-performance-assessments/2013-06-28
April 6, 2012 by cs
Austerity is here, it’s real and it will be the rule of the road for several years. The president’s fiscal 2013 budget request for defense will likely be about $260 billion less, over the next five years, than the top line projections of just one year ago. The civilian agencies, many of which have been facing fiscal quagmires for several years as a result of a non-stop diet of continuing resolutions, also face real pressures today and further reductions for fiscal 2013, likely in the 3 percent to 5 percent range.
And if sequestration happens, the challenges will be that much more significant. What is not yet clear is what all of this means for both the effective functioning of government and, of course, for the industry that plays such a critical role in supporting it.
Recently, the Professional Services Council, along with the Aerospace Industries Association and the National Defense Industrial Association, submitted to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top DOD leaders a report on the anticipated impacts of the defense spending reductions. They included job losses, reductions in company-funded research and development, investments in people, and the potential loss of key suppliers.
In addition, it is clear that, dosuring the next few years, an already highly competitive market will become even more competitive. With fewer contract opportunities, the number and range of competitors vying for those opportunities will be even greater than they are today.
While the fiscal environment is an unavoidable reality, there are a number of actions companies can and should take to help ameliorate at least some of those impacts. Indeed, these strategies and actions were prominent in discussions with the secretary of defense, the deputy secretary, and the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, following submission of our industrial base impacts report. These strategies also have applicability across the government.
Key among them is an intensified focus on performance—at all levels. This includes not only programmatic performance, which should always be the principal objective, but also a renewed focus on the financial side, such as fostering a proactive dialogue to help customers identify areas for cost savings—even if those savings might impact company revenue—and tightening company overhead as much as reasonably possible.
At the same time, the government customer must also think and act differently. Despite the budget reductions, the government will nonetheless be spending a huge amount of money through contracts for goods and services. To ensure that those expenditures deliver optimal benefits in both the short and long runs, it is crucial that the government, as the DOD and Office of Management and Budget leaders have said, focus on value and other meaningful value discriminators in the acquisition process. Indeed, DOD leadership has said that given the times, they will be focusing more intently than ever on those discriminators.
Unfortunately, the No. 1 issue identified by our member companies in our report was the government’s growing propensity to do just the opposite, even when buying complex services, including those that generate the kinds of innovation that lead to performance improvements and sustainable efficiencies.
Likewise, government teams must be open to eliminating non-value or limited-value contractual burdens. And the government must get away from its habit of using margins—too often arbitrarily set at unreasonably low levels—as a key cost savings tool. Margins should be linked to the complexity and risk associated with the work being done. Here too, a disconnect between the leadership’s objectives and the field’s implementation is clear and must be addressed.
For every company in the federal market, this must be a time of internal and external reassessment. The same is true for our government colleagues. There are some things that are well beyond either’s control. The key is to focus on those things that we can control and to turn an era of challenge into an era of innovation and opportunity.
About the Author: Stan Soloway is president and chief executive officer of the Professional Services Council. This article was published on Feb. 27, 2012 by Washington Technology at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/01/30/insights-soloway.aspx.
March 8, 2012 by cs
Companies would lose the opportunity to respond to performance reviews written by government officials under a new contracting bill. The reviews often play a major role in winning future contracts.
The Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act (S. 2139), which was introduced Feb. 29, would revise language in the Federal Acquisition Regulation that gives companies 30 days to comment, provide additional information or rebut a contracting official’s assessment of their work. The same FAR provision requires agencies to provide companies with a copy of the work performance evaluation.
Trey Hodgkins, senior vice president for national security and procurement policy at TechAmerica, said this proposed FAR revision is huge change in procurement. It eliminates the ability for contractors point out mistakes or offer their perspective on circumstances when agency officials view them differently.
“This provision may lead to a bad situation or bad feelings, at least,” Hodgkins said.
A customer agency may be unhappy because it didn’t get what it wanted, although the contractor may have been bound by the firm-fixed price contract that the agency awarded. The result might be a lackluster performance review.
“That’s not unheard of,” Hodgkins said.
Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) introduced the contracting reform bill, which is based on recommendations from the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. McCaskill and Webb created the independent commission in 2007, and the commission issued a final report in 2011.
Among its other provisions, the bill would expand what goes into the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, a database of contractors’ past performance and other related information. It would have agencies include information on any of a contractor’s parent or subsidiary entities.
The legislation would elevate oversight responsibilities for procurement officials and enhance management structures for the agencies handling contingency contracting. McCaskill and Webb want procurement training added to education curricula for both professional military and contingency operations. The training would deal with defining requirements and the strategic impacts of contracts on the mission.
The legislation would require justifications for sole-source contracts to handle compelling demands.
The bill has been referred to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for further review.
The Wartime Contracting Commission spent three years investigating contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In its final report to Congress, the panel estimated that the United States had lost as much as $60 billion through contract waste and fraud in those countries. The commission also identified major failures in contingency contracting planning, execution and oversight.
It concluded that such waste will increase if officials don’t toughen accountability as U.S. operations wind down, support for programs declines, and major reconstruction projects become unsustainable.
McCaskill, who introduced legislation with Webb to create the commission, has been focused on procurement and contracting reform. She’s chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Contracting Oversight Subcommittee and also chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee.
“When Jim and I got here, nobody was paying attention to the billions of taxpayer dollars being wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan,” McCaskill said in a statement. “But with the roadmap provided by the commission report, we can change the way our government contracts during wartime, and make sure these failures are never repeated.”
About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week. This article was published on Mar. 1, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/03/01/no-review-past-performance-evaluation.aspx?s=wtdaily_020312.
February 16, 2012 by cs
Almost every proposal you write has a requirement for information on past performance. The government uses this information to evaluate how well your company has performed on similar programs and expects your past performance to be a predictor of how well you will perform on the program you’re currently bidding.
Because past performance can be an important discriminator in the evaluation and selection process, there are some things you should know about how to write your past performance response.
Past performance versus past experience
Past performance comprises a set of specific contracts that you select to demonstrate how well your company, or your team, has performed on contracts that are similar in size, scope, and complexity to your current bid.
Past experience, which is sometimes confused with past performance, is about the broader issue of what experience and expertise the bidding organization has gained from all of its contract work and the work of its teammates.
Select contracts to demonstrate past performance
Past performance is all about relevancy and how well you performed the work you’re referencing. The government will consider these two factors together when developing your past-performance score — and both are important. However, performance is more important than relevancy. It is better to showcase your best-performing contracts and argue that they are relevant than to select contracts that are highly relevant and had poor performance.
Expect the government evaluator to ask your customers how well you did performing each contract. Typically, this happens via a formal past-performance questionnaire submission process and/or direct communication from the government evaluators to your customers. The government keeps two databases—the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) and Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS)—to determine how well your company performs its contracts.
Government access is restricted to those individuals who are working on source selections, to include contractor responsibility determinations.
With the CPARS, companies can regularly review their own ratings for each evaluated contract, but cannot check ratings for other companies. In order to access PPIRS information, a contractor must be registered in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) system and must have created a Marketing Partner Identification Number (MPIN) in the CCR profile. Because past-performance ratings are such an important factor in proposal evaluations, every company should regularly review its CPARS ratings and challenge any evaluations they consider unfair.
Write your past performance summary
Each RFP will be very prescriptive about the information you need to provide when you describe each past-performance contract. While it may seem obvious, you really do need to provide all the requested information in order to submit a “compliant” proposal (see my Washington Technology article, “6 reasons your proposals fail,” October 2011).
You’ll be asked to provide information to show contract relevance, so keep this in mind when you write your response. Measures of relevance include contract size, scope and complexity, as well as the technical scope of work performed.
The description of the work is where you can stand out. Write your response to not only show that you performed relevant work — which every bidder does — but that you also had specific accomplishments that were meaningful to the government. Don’t just parrot back the statement of work from the contract you are citing. Focus on accomplishments because it’s these achievements that can make your contract past performance stand out from the crowd.
Most importantly, make sure you have outstanding past performance on the contracts you present. Confirm this information with your customers and with your teammates’ customers before you submit your proposal.
The government will read what you write, and they will validate the content. A good writer can present your past performance in a credible, compelling way, but if the underlying performance is less than desirable, it’s hard to overcome the truth.
About the Author: Bob Lohfeld is the chief executive officer of the Lohfeld Consulting Group. This article was published by Washington Technology on Feb. 10, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/01/30/insights-lohfeld.aspx?s=wtdaily_130212.
January 18, 2012 by cs
Contractors can still challenge information tjat goes into the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity System, but they have just a two-week window before the information becomes public.
The new provision takes affect Jan. 17, 2012. The start date was missing when the final rule was published Jan. 3.
Any information that agencies enter into database from Jan. 17 onward will be subject to a two-week delay before it is transferred to the publicly available part of FAPIIS. Past performance information won’t be published at all. Contractors will receive notice when new information about their company goes into FAPIIS, and they will have 7 days to point out information that should be exempt under the Freedom of Information Act.
In the new Federal Register notice, officials wrote that the delay until Jan. 17 will give agencies time to complete necessary system changes to support the two-week waiting period before contractors’ information goes live.
The current system is designed to automatically transfer information to the publicly available part of FAPIIS. Until officials make the change, companies would not have an opportunity to request withholding the information, the notice states.
FAPIIS is a one-stop website for contracting officers and federal employees to look at the history of companies’ work with the federal government. It includes data from the Performance Information Retrieval System, as well as information from other databases, including the Excluded Parties List System, which cites companies that are suspended or debarred from federal contracting.
The final rule gives companies seven days to find any information that should not be disclosed because it should be considered exempt. In such a case, officials will remove the information from FAPIIS to resolve the issue.
If the government official does not remove the item, it will be automatically released to the public website within 14 days after beginning entered into FAPIIS, according to the notice.
About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week. This article appeared Jan. 11, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/01/10/fapiis-contractor-information.aspx?s=wtdaily_120112.
January 6, 2012 by cs
The Obama administration solidified an interim rule that requires agency officials to post a government contractor’s work history in a publicly accessible website.
The Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) is a one-stop web site for contracting officers and federal employees to look at the history of companies’ work with the federal government.
FAPIIS includes data from the Performance Information Retrieval System, as well as information from other databases, including the Excluded Parties List System, which lists companies that are suspended or debarred from federal contracting. The overall purpose of FAPIIS is to make it easier for contracting officers to get an overall assessment of a company before awarding a contract by not having to search numerous databases.
A year ago, acquisition officials issued an interim rule making all the information public, except for past performance reviews by agencies.
The final rule took effect Jan. 3.
In the Federal Register notice about the rule, officials recognized the risks about the information going public though.
The final rule gives companies seven days to find any information that should not be disclosed because it should be considered exempt from disclosure. In such a case, officials will remove the information from FAPIIS to resolve the issue.
If the government official does not remove the item, it will be automatically released to the public site within two weeks after the review period began, according to the notice.
About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week. This article was published Jan. 4, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/01/04/fapiis-public-disclosure-objections.aspx?s=wtdaily_050112.
March 16, 2011 by cs
President Obama’s Management Advisory Board, an independent panel of corporate leaders, suggested on Friday that the government must do more to incentivize its leadership and improve its operational management.
At its first meeting, the new board that was established to provide the White House with strategic advice on government management and operations, heard from administration officials on a range of topics, including the salaries of senior executives and the consolidated procurement efforts of federal agencies. Presentations also were delivered on information technology and federal customer service initiatives — each of which the group will tackle.
For example, John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, explained how the difficulties of attracting — and then retaining — the best and brightest to work in the government instead of taking more lucrative private sector positions are exacerbated by charges that federal employees are overpaid.
Berry said the board could help dispel this notion because of its credibility in the business world. “When you carry that mission, it carries some weight,” he said.
The panel likely will focus on ways to better train and develop senior government leadership, recruit candidates from outside of government, improve the federal performance management system and reward high-performing employees.
There are limits to what the group can address, however. The administration does not have much flexibility in its compensation scale for its Senior Executive Service, with salaries generally ranging from $120,000 to $180,000, said W. Scott Gould, deputy secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department.
Removing poor-performing senior executives is on the table, but Gould, who has eliminated 20 such positions at VA in the past two years, suggested reform will not be easy. “It’s hard to do and takes a long time to go through the process,” he said.
The board also heard about the government’s efforts to improve its strategic sourcing of common commodities. The General Services Administration, which has developed blanket purchasing agreements that all agencies can use for the procurement of office supplies, plans to expand the practice in the future.
“Budget pressures are forcing agencies into these cooperative purchases,” GSA Administrator Martha Johnson said.
Dan Gordon, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said the government “struggles mightily” to define its acquisition requirements and is too dependent on contractors for core services. “We use contractors to write contracts for other contractors,” Gordon said.
Obama established the advisory board last April through an executive order to provide advice on how to implement best business practices on issues such as productivity, the application of technology and customer service.
The order called for the board, which is chaired by Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of management for the Office of Management and Budget, to include no more than 17 leaders from the private sector. On Thursday, Obama appointed 10 members to the board. An OMB spokeswoman said it’s possible that more board members will be named.
The board members are Greg Brown, president and chief executive officer of Motorola Solutions Inc.; Sam Gilliland, chairman and CEO of Sabre Holdings, a travel technology company; Jeffrey Kindler, former chairman and CEO of Pfizer Inc.; Debra Lee, chairwoman and CEO of BET Networks; Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross; Shantanu Narayen, president and CEO of Adobe Systems Inc.; Enrique Salem, president and CEO of Symantec Corp.; Elizabeth Smith, CEO of OSI Restaurant Partners LLC; Tim Solso, chairman and CEO of Cummins Inc.; and Ronald Williams, chairman of Aetna Inc.
The board, which is purely advisory, will operate for two years, unless the White House extends it.
– by Robert Brodsky – GovExec.com – March 11, 2011
January 26, 2011 by cs
In one of the most dramatic steps to date in shining a light on the conduct of firms that do business with the government, the General Services Administration will open its Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System — otherwise known as FAPIIS — to public scrutiny within the next three months, GSA’s Senior Procurement Executive Joseph Neurauter said in an interview on Thursday.
A provision in the wartime supplemental appropriations bill, sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and signed into law by President Obama in July 2010, mandated that GSA disclose on a public website all information in FAPIIS, with the exception of past performance evaluations.
The bill did not provide a deadline for publicizing the information, which now is accessible only to a handful of government officials, lawmakers and contractors that are listed in the database.
“This is a good thing because it gives more transparency,” said Neurauter, who also serves as GSA’s suspension and debarment official. “That’s really what we are about. The more information that you can legally and within reason make available to the public, the better.”
FAPIIS, used by federal contracting officials since April, culls information dating back five years from a number of disparate federal databases and government records.
The database includes criminal, civil and administrative proceedings against suppliers in connection with federal awards; past performance evaluations; records of suspensions and debarments; administrative agreements issued in lieu of suspension or debarment; nonresponsibility determinations; contracts that were terminated for fault and defective price determinations.
And in a new development, the database also will include instances when a company’s behavior might have put its employees in harm’s way.
A provision in the fiscal 2011 Defense Authorization Act requires department contracting officials to publicly disclose cases when a procurement official denied or reduced a contractor’s award fee because of a company’s reckless or negligent behavior. The database also will include a determination of fault by Defense Department leadership.
For contracts above the simplified acquisition threshold of $150,000, federal contracting and grant officers are required to check FAPIIS before making a responsibility determination. The new public site, Neurauter said, will be searchable and user-friendly.
While much of the information available in FAPIIS is already publicly available on myriad federal websites, the data has never before been comprehensively assembled for public viewing.
On Monday, Jan. 24, an interim rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register informing the contractor community that FAPIIS data soon will be made public, Neurauter said. The public will have 60 days to comment on the notice.
But contractor officials already are raising concerns that opening the database to the public could jeopardize the integrity of the acquisition process and potentially risk the disclosure of private information.
“Making this data public opens the door to all kinds of misperceptions, misunderstandings and even mischief,” said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, an industry trade association.
GSA officials are aware of industry’s concerns and are taking steps to redact data prohibited by the 1974 Privacy Act or that concerns a contractor’s proprietary information. Other information also could be withheld based on pending litigation, according to Neurauter.
“We can’t mindlessly put things in there,” he said. “We have to give it thought and consideration and understand there is a balance of competing regulatory and statutory interests that we have to be mindful of.”
Soloway, however, is concerned that the administration has yet to develop governmentwide business rules spelling out how contracting officials should use the information in FAPIIS. For example, the government has not provided guidance to procurement officials regarding how much weight a years-old tax discrepancy or equal employment violation should have in a company’s post-award responsibility determination.
“We are looking for clarity on how this information is going to be used,” Soloway said.
The Federal Acquisition Institute has developed a tutorial detailing the purpose of FAPIIS and the types of data it will include. The site is available at http://www.fai.gov/FAPIIS/trailer/module.htm.
– By Robert Brodsky – GovExec.com – January 21, 2011