Government Puts More Weight on Past PerformanceBy James C. FontanaContributing Writer Federal government agencies have traditionally used some form of pastperformance review (i.e., references

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Government Puts More Weight on Past Performance

By James C. Fontana
Contributing Writer

Federal government agencies have traditionally used some form of past performance review (i.e., references of an offeror's performance record with other government and non-government customers) as a part of the competitive evaluation process. In federal government contracting, past performance was often one of several key measures of an offeror's ability to provide the government with quality services.

In an era of procurement reform, and considering the government's sweeping changes in the way it procures information technology, past performance is rapidly becoming the predominant non-cost evaluation factor.

In 1994, as part of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act, or FASA, Congress established the use of past performance as a routine contract award evaluation factor. This basic principle has been implemented in the Federal Acquisition Regulations, or FAR, which require past performance ratings as one of two mandatory evaluation criteria (in addition to cost/price) for most competitively negotiated procurements. Factors that a procuring agency looks for in assessing past performance include the quality of the product or service provided in previous contracts, timeliness of performance, cost control and customer satisfaction.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy, which implements the president's agenda on federal procurement reform, has proposed that, at minimum, past performance should be rated at 25 percent or more of the total award evaluation. It also recommended that it should be at least equal in significance to any other non-cost evaluation factor, such as technical and management abilities.

The FAR had originally envisioned that past performance would be evaluated for all solicitations issued on or after July 1, 1997, on contracts expected to exceed $500,000 in value, and the Defense Department had even considered accelerating that date by 18 months. But the DoD has since reconsidered its position in light of a recent government-sponsored study which criticized the effectiveness of past performance reviews, especially on smaller-dollar contracts. As a result, the government has suspended, at least temporarily, the use of past performance evaluations on contracts below $1 million.

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©1997, Washington Technology. All rights reserved.


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