Commentary: We Already Have the Tool We Need to Get the Most Out of Federal Contractors

“Government services have never been more essential to the American people than they are today. The need for the government to excel in meeting all of its responsibilities will persist given the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, racial and social inequities, and other crises in the United States and around the world.

As the Biden administration addresses these challenges, it’s critical to get the most not only from federal agencies, but from the contractors who help implement agency missions. The federal government relies heavily on a blended workforce of dedicated federal employees and contractors to get its work done. The government spends about 40% of its discretionary budget on contracts for goods and services, adding up to more than $586 billion in fiscal 2019.

We believe there is an underutilized tool that can better leverage the spending of that taxpayer money and help achieve desired mission outcomes by motivating federal contractors to improve their performance. That tool is called the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System, or CPARS.

CPARS tends to be used as a report card at the end of a performance period of a contract. It should be used as a management tool to help improve contractor performance, and in turn, improve outcomes on contracts. This would be a paradigm shift for many procurement officials, but the change could be as simple as this: The contractor submits a mid-term performance self-assessment (with appropriate supporting data and metrics) and the government rating official provides feedback on the contractor’s performance…”

“Some agencies are already finding new ways to use CPARS. The Department of Homeland Security’s Chief Procurement Office, for example, is looking at using artificial intelligence to extract and use information currently in CPARS. Jeff Koses, the General Services Administration’s senior procurement executive, recently issued guidance to all GSA contracting officers on requesting contractor self-assessments as part of the CPARS process. This is another great step toward reducing contracting officers’ burdens and producing fairer and more accurate CPARS ratings…”

“We also believe that proper use of CPARS can help small businesses, who often face the unfounded perception that they will not perform as well as a large business. Using good CPARS data can counter that perception. Also, using CPARS data tactically as part of ongoing performance reviews during contract performance will also cause contractors to pay greater attention to their ratings at senior levels of contract companies. This will also bring more focus from the government’s perspective and enable interim CPARS reviews to help drive better performance…” Read the full article here.

Source: We Already Have the Tool We Need to Get the Most Out of Federal Contractors – By Greg Giddens, Mike Smith and Jim Williams, March 4, 2021. Government Executive.

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