Expert Advice

6 Ways to Improve Your Past Performance Scores

“Help!  I’m frustrated, upset, annoyed, and don’t understand this past performance game, which I never seem to win.  What is the federal government doing?  And what can I do to win?” If you can relate to this sentiment, you’re not alone. 
By Mary Jo Juarez

The Contract Performance Assessment Reporting System and other government evaluation systems are known to be difficult and full of issues.  One bad failure can keep you from getting another job. 

What can you do to protect your company? 

How can your company receive the evaluation it deserves? 

Here are some suggestions to help you strengthen your position before the situation falls apart:

  1. 1. Prepare. Track and prepare objective information and facts so that you can present this information when requested, or to back up your write up or rebuttal.  Ex: “we conducted 34 safety meetings” or “out of 450 submittals, only two were late.”

  2. 2. Take action. 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 putting together a plan for you and your team.

  3. 3. Build a checklist. Create a list for yourself of items to review. 

  4. 4. Provide context. 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. 

  5. 5. Get involved. 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 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.

  6. 6. Be proactive. 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 a project to a contractor with a low CPARS regardless of price, unless the contractor has explained what happened and how they intend to prevent the situation from happening again.  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 in spite of a higher price.  A performance risk is no longer a good value.