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Rule Would Boost Consideration of Contractor Past Performance

Pentagon, GSA and NASA seek to shorten comment period and ease agency access to data.

A proposed rule published Wednesday would update the Federal Acquisition Regulation to help agencies consider past performance of contractors in awarding new work while shortening the comment period available to affected firms. The industry appears receptive.

As required by the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act President Obama signed on Jan. 2, the Defense Department, the General Services Administration and NASA drafted a rule to allow data on contractor past performance to be added to two databases, the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System and the Past Performance Information Retrieval System. The rule would also give contractors 14 days to submit comments, rebuttals or additional information in the database, rather than the current 30 days.

“It is important for past performance information to be shared with source selection officials immediately, so that award decisions can be better informed and made in a more timely manner,” the proposed rule states. “Expediting the time allotted to contractors to respond to performance evaluations should improve communication between the contractor and the government, enable current information to be shared quickly throughout the government, and ultimately ensure the government does business with high performing contractors.”

The effort is being coordinated by the White House Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel of the contractors group the Professional Services Council, welcomed the draft. “We have always been concerned about ensuring that there is an appropriate balance between the government’s release of a contractor’s past performance report and the time available for a contractor to review its report card for any incorrect information in that report,” he told Government Executive in an email. “We are pleased that contractors retain the right to raise questions about the content of past performance reports generated by the government but are concerned that the rule does not properly implement the statutory requirements and that the shorter timelines for the interrelated actions by government officials and contractors are not fully aligned in a workable manner.”

He also noted that the plans mentioned in the rule to adjust the two databases lack a timetable.

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