A final rule published in the Federal Register on July 1 will now require contracting officers to use the Past Performance Information Retrieval System to record “past performance” information for companies that obtain GSA Federal Supply Schedule contact awards in excess of $100,000, task/delivery orders off of other government-wide acquisition contracts, and multi-agency contracts. Until now, the electronic retrieval system has been used by contracting officers throughout the federal government, but an April GAO report confirmed what industry experts and federal contractors have known for quite some time-the system is used sporadically and is generally unreliable. Since the report found that many past performance reviews of companies with GSA schedule and GWAC awards never make it into the system, this final rule is an attempt to help resolve the problem.
To its credit, GSA contracting officers have used their internal Industry Operation Analyst reviews to collect “past performance” information for schedule awards for years, but such information has been of little value to anyone other than GSA contracting officers considering a modification or contract renewal. Requiring GSA contracting officers to use PPIRS will now ensure that “past performance” information collected during these reviews will be accessible outside of GSA for at least three years before such information is archived.
In addition to the changes related to GSA schedule and GWAC awards, the new rule also requires contracting officers to record “past performance” information for construction contracts valued at more than $550,000 and architect-engineer services contracts greater than $30,000. Finally, while it is not required pursuant to the new rule, contracting officers are also encouraged to use the system to document contractor performance under singe agency task/delivery order awards.
Federal contractors should note that while the new rule does not dictate each and every data point that should be included in “past performance” evaluations, contracting officers are required to include information regarding prime contractors’ compliance with their small business subcontracting plans. This requirement should come as no surprise to contractors following industry trends-subcontracting plans are a very hot issue right now and are gaining increased importance across all federal agencies.
Some contractors and experts have already raised concerns about the rule since it contains additional reporting requirements without providing for an official process by which contractors may appeal or challenge information contained in “past performance” evaluations. However, while the new rule on its face clearly adds additional requirements for contracting officers regarding the documentation of “past performance information”, what remains to be seen is how much practical effect the rule will have across the federal contracting industry. There is often a very noticeable gap between what is required and what is actually accomplished in these types of areas, especially when resources and staffing are stretched thin as is the case in the current environment.
As always, Centre Consulting will be tracking the impact of the new rule as it is applied and will keep the industry updated with any new information or developments that deserve attention.