Expert Advice

Past Performance Issues – How Can I Win at This?

The Contract Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) and other government evaluation systems are known to be difficult and full of issues.  One bad failure can keep a contractor from getting another job.  What can I do to protect my company?  How can I receive the evaluation I deserve?  Here are some suggestions to help you strengthen your position before the situation falls apart:

  • Prepare!  Prepare objective information and facts and keep track so that you can present this information when requested or to back up your write up or rebuttal. For example, “we conducted 34 safety meeting, out of 450 submittals, only 2 were late”.
  • Don’t rely on the government to take care of you. Take care of yourself by following the contract, identifying actions that require written approval, and put together a plan for you and your team.
  • Build a checklist for yourself of items to review. 
  • If a situation occurs and is reflected in your performance evaluation, take the time to explain what happened, how you corrected the situation, what you learned, and what action you will take to make sure it does not happen again. 
  • Work closely with the government individuals who are filling out your performance evaluation. Ask what you can do to help them – what data can you provide to speed up the completion of the evaluation?  If you complete the project and leave the worksite, chances are the evaluation will go to the bottom of the pile on someone’s desk. Work with your government team and take an active part in the preparation of your evaluation.
  • And do this early – do not wait until the last week or even the last month of your project before you begin to work on your evaluation. 

The Contracting Officer cannot award to a low CPARS regardless of price. The contractor must pass the responsibility requirements demonstrating that they are a low performance risk. If your evaluations show you are a performance risk with bad evaluations, other contractors will receive the award despite a higher price.  A performance risk is no longer a good value. 


Written by Mary Jo Juarez, Norcal PTAC Procurement Specialist.