A new law will make public a database on contractors’ past behavior that is now available only to the government, and some contracting groups worry the information could be misinterpreted.
The Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, dubbed FAPIIS, was established through 2008 legislation to ensure the government, before making major awards to contractors, is aware of past problems such as criminal convictions, fines, suspensions and contracts terminated due to default.
Supplemental war funding legislation signed by President Obama earlier this summer mandated that all of the information — with the exception of past performance reviews — be made publicly available on a Web site.
The Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit organization that has operated its own contractor misconduct database since 2002, lauded the decision. Neil Gordon, an investigator with the organization, said the public database will provide a window into the government’s decision-making processes.
“We’ve always thought that a database that contains information about federal contractors will, first of all, help the government make more responsible contracting decisions, but also help the public be able to better track how the money is spent,” Gordon said.
But the Professional Services Council, an industry trade group, said the data might be misinterpreted by users unfamiliar with contracting, including Congress, reporters and public interest groups.
“Government officials, contracting officers and source selection people have experience evaluating past-performance information and making judgments about data,” said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel at the PSC. “The database will be used for a lot of purposes having nothing to do with what it’s originally intended to do.”
Gordon dismissed those concerns, noting that a lot of the information is already public. The database, he said, just gathers it together to be more accessible.
The law tasks the General Services Administration with making the database available. The GSA said it does not yet have a date for the public site’s rollout, but is working with the administration on implementation.
— By Marjorie Censer, Monday, August 23, 2010, The Washington Post