GSA, DHS to address shortcomings in contractor assessments

In the world of federal contracting, the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) is well known. For some contractors, their CPARS ratings are critical, as they essentially reflect the quality of work done on government contracts. The General Services Administration and the Department of Homeland Security are taking a look at the process and plan to improve upon it.

According to Mike Smith, a former DHS director, “We think there is a clear appetite for Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS), but contracting officers and industry also know the current CPARS process is broken. I think OFPP hears it from contracting officers that it’s burdensome, and they hear from contractors that it’s not resulting in fair and accurate ratings.” On the other hand, there are many in the industry that believe that contractive officers to not take the time to accurately assess contractors, often grading them satisfactorily due to a desire to lessen their own burden.

GSA and DHS both have different plans to improve the CPARS assessment process. DHS is trying to address these shortcomings by applying artificial intelligence tools to the CPARS process. For GSA, it’s a matter of whether contracting officers pick up on the ability for vendors to provide self-assessments on specific projects. GSA senior procurement executive, Jeff Koses, issued a memo in February promoting the use of vendor self-assessments as one step in the overall CPARS process.

Ultimately, many in the federal contracting industry believe that the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) needs to get more involved. Though GSA and DHS are looking to improve upon the CPARS process, OFPP can issue a government-wide memo on increasing confidence in the CPARS or even steps to take for bettering the process. This initiative will ultimately help small business, as it will help contracting officers feel more comfortable issuing awards based on increased accuracy and confidence in these assessments.

Author: Paul McVeigh