Among some contractors, it’s taken as an article of faith that even a single negative Contractor Performance Assessment Report will effectively preclude the contractor from winning new government work.
While it’s undoubtedly true, in my opinion, that some Contracting Officers place too much emphasis on a single less-than-perfect CPAR, it’s also true that a contractor with multiple negative CPARs can still win government contracts, so long as the government reasonably believes that the contractor can successfully perform the new work. Case in point: a recent GAO bid protest decision upholding an award to a company with nine (count ’em!) recent, relevant and negative CPARs.
In a recent decision, GAO said that it is not the contracting agency’s job to play investigator when it comes to publicly available negative past performance information. GAO acknowledged that there may be certain situations where the agency is required to consider such information that it is aware of during its evaluation. But according to GAO, this denied protest involved no such situation.
The government’s hard shift away from lowest-price, technically acceptable evaluations has magnified the importance of past performance in many competitive acquisitions. For start-ups and other companies new to the federal marketplace, past performance requirements can present a significant barrier to success.
Oftentimes, companies with little or no past performance of their own can offer the past performance of another entity, such as a subcontractor or joint venture partner. But the rules surrounding the use of another entity’s past performance are often misunderstood–and recently, the rules have evolved quickly.
Here are five things you should know about using the past performance of a subcontractor, joint venture partner, or affiliate.