When the General Services Administration released the $65 billion Alliant 2 governmentwide acquisition contract for IT services back in June 2016, it was one of the first major procurement efforts to put a premium on past performance.
As part of the self-scoring approach to Alliant 2, GSA determined that 40 percent of the evaluation points would be on how vendors have performed on previous and similar work with the government. At the time, industry analysts praised GSA for building on this self-scoring approach. Now three years later, the self-scoring approach where past performance is a significant evaluation factor has grown in popularity.
At the same time, vendors and federal procurement officials alike heed a common call that the current approach to obtaining past performance is problematic and needs to be rethought.
“As the government moves to buying more services and solutions, things are getting more subjective and you want to be able to do a better job of motivating contractors to do more,” said Jim Williams, a former federal executive with GSA, the IRS and the Homeland Security Department, and now a principal with Williams Consulting, LLC and an advisor for GovConRx. “The forces are coming together to say vendor past performance is a valuable tool. But it’s not working as it should because it’s too burdensome and not as accurate as it should be. No one wants to throw it out. We just want to fix it.”
Experts say the current system, the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS), takes too much time to fill out, lacks important details and isn’t as accurate as it needs to be.
“The time and effort to draft CPARS evaluations is too much, and with most agency contracting staffs pressed to do more with less, that gets pushed out further, especially if there is a need to justify ratings over satisfactory,” said Mike Smith, a former DHS director of strategic sourcing and now executive vice president at GovConRx. “There needs to be some way to justify anything over satisfactory that is not so hard to track down all the information so it becomes less cumbersome. Contractors also are not actively engaged in the documentation and support of the ratings. That has to change too, especially as agencies are paying a lot more attention to ratings. We have to figure out how to make sure past performance ratings are not done in haste.”
Smith said on average, depending on the type of procurement, it could take a contracting officer a few minutes to a few hours to write an in-depth CPARS review.
New data compiled by GovConRx shows the value of CPARS is dropping dramatically.
Continue reading at: Federal News Network