Thursday, August 8, 2013

Past Performance Reporting - Contractor Rebuttal Period to be Shortened

The FAR Councils are proposing to amend FAR to implement a provision of the 2013 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act). The Act requires revisions to the acquisition regulations on past performance evaluations so that contractors are provided up to 14 calendar days from the date of delivery of past performance evaluations to submit comments, rebuttals, or additional information pertaining to past performance, for inclusion in the Government's database. The Act also requires that agency evaluations of contractor performance, including any information submitted by contractors, be included in the relevant past performance database not later than the date that is 14 days after the date of delivery of the information to the contractor.

This is a big change from current regulations. Under current regulations, contractors have a minimum of 30 days to submit comments, rebuttals, or additional information pertaining to past performance. Contractors frequently request and are granted extensions to this time period. Under the new regulations, the minimum of 30 days is reduced to a maximum of 14 days.

Under the current rules, many past performance evaluations never make it to the database or are so late that they're not considered current. To be sure, there has been a low compliance rate among contracting officers in preparing and uploading these evaluations. Compliance is improving but far from 100 percent. Another issue has been the ability of contractors, with poor evaluations, to drag things out for an extended period. So for example, a contracting officer might send a poor evaluation to a contractor for comment. The contractor asks for and receives extensions beyond 30 days, sometimes multiple extensions. The contracting officer, before posting the evaluation, must "adjudicate" any differences and adequately respond to contractor comments. This can take a long time, depending upon the response. Once there's a nice tidy package, the evaluation gets posted.

Under the revised regulation, the past performance evaluation goes live in 14 days or less. Contractors can send in their comments, complaints, rebuttals, or additional information at any time. However, the initial evaluation is still available for all to see. The system will also allow contracting officers to modify their initial evaluations, but how likely is that?

Past performance information is valuable for source selection officials. The idea behind this new regulation is to get such information to those officials while it is still current and useful. The Government's stated objective here is to enable current information to be shared quickly throughout the Government and ultimately ensure the Government does business with high performing contractors.

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