The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) dropped a memo July 10 with some new requirements for the acquisition workforce on the collection and use of contractor past performance information. In recent years, they’ve taken a number of steps to expand the governmentwide use of contractor past performance, from trying to make evaluations more uniform to seeking better reporting compliance. Now OFPP is adding some additional steps in gathering, evaluating, and sharing past performance.
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) doesn’t merely prescribe when and where source selection officials should find and use past performance information when evaluating offers (FAR 15.3), it provides the flexibility for Contracting Officers (COs) and other acquisition staff to seek out additional sources of information beyond what’s already contained in the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS). And that’s exactly what OFPP is directing COs to do for designated high-risk, complex contract actions.
Specifically, the new outreach program asks that source selection officials complete the following activities (attachment 1 in the memo provides a full outline of the additional research and outreach steps required):
- Contact the CO, COR, or program manager from the contractor’s two largest, most recent federal contracts.
- Review news articles, GAO or inspector general reports about a contractor’s business integrity and performance.
- Use commercial performance databases outside of PPIRS that provide reviews and evaluations of companies.
- Request offerors provide at least three to five references from recent contracts.
- Request primes provide information on subs.
These activities, OFPP says, “are to be applied, at a minimum, [to] acquisitions (contracts or orders) for complex information technology (IT) development, systems, and services over $500,000, and other acquisitions identified by the agency as presenting a significant risk.” OFPP has previously laid out how to determine when a contract is high-risk.
The information gathered by these activities should be carefully evaluated as to its relevance and balanced with what’s already contained in PPIRS, the memo advises. Documentation in the contract file must show how the performance information was used during source selection. It’s also important that solicitations contain these past performance methodologies, so contractors are aware of how their history of state, local, foreign, and commercial work will be collected and evaluated. Last, each agency’s designated past performance POC should be providing this information for contractors on high-risk contracts to senior agency leaders.
The FAR clearly outlines how past performance evaluations should be prepared and maintained, and specific procedures exist for allowing contractors to comment on any adverse performance reviews that fall within the scope of PPIRS (FAR 42.15). For these the “extracurricular” outreach efforts, however, it is important for COs to remember to give contractors the opportunity to respond to any negative feedback that turns up as part of the enhanced past performance collection and evaluation.