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May 21, 2023

Tips For Creating Outstanding Past Performance

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Creating outstanding past performance is essential for winning government contracts. It involves delivering high-quality work, understanding contract requirements, building strong relationships, meeting deadlines, maintaining accurate documentation, collecting client feedback, and seeking formal performance evaluations.

Creating Outstanding Past Performance

Winning government contracts requires submitting an outstanding proposal that scores well against the government's evaluation factors. Winning proposals are consistently viewed as low risk by allowing the government to evaluate the bidder's technical and management approach to determine the bidder's ability to perform and manage the work. In addition, a winning proposal's past performance descriptions must clearly demonstrate that the bidder has an outstanding track record of performing on similar work. It's another way the government determines if the bidder is a reliable and responsible contractor that it wants to do business with. Maintaining an outstanding past performance record can provide a significant competitive advantage. Obviously, generating outstanding past performance starts with managing awarded contracts well. However, building a track record of outstanding past performance requires time, effort and doing the little things well.

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In this blog, we provide tips on how to create an outstanding past performance track record. We explain why it is important to understand the CPARS (Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System) system that the government uses to track contractor's performance. And why it is so important that you periodically review and correct what's being said about your performance. And finally, we describe how to organize, document, and improve past performance description so they are most relevant and clearly present what you've accomplished.

What can a contractor do to create outstanding past performance?

project-mgtCreating a strong past performance as a government contractor is crucial for establishing credibility and winning future contracts. Here are some tips to help you develop a great past performance record:

Deliver high-quality work:Focus on providing exceptional services or products that meet or exceed the requirements and expectations of your government clients. Consistently delivering quality work is the foundation of a strong past performance.

Understand contract requirements: Thoroughly review and understand the contract requirements before accepting a project. Ensure that you have the necessary resources, expertise, and capabilities to meet those requirements effectively.

Build strong relationships:Develop positive working relationships with your government clients and key stakeholders. Effective communication, responsiveness, and collaboration can enhance your reputation and increase the likelihood of receiving positive past performance evaluations.

Meet deadlines and milestones: Adhere to project schedules and meet all established deadlines and milestones. Timely completion of projects demonstrates your reliability and ability to deliver on time, which is highly valued by government agencies.

Maintain accurate documentation: Keep detailed records of project activities, including project plans, progress reports, communication logs, and any other relevant documentation. Accurate and comprehensive documentation can be used to showcase your accomplishments and support your past performance claims.

Collect client feedback: Actively seek feedback from your government clients throughout the project and after its completion. Constructive feedback can help you identify areas for improvement and address any issues promptly. Positive feedback can be used as testimonials or references to showcase your success.

Leverage subcontractor relationships: If you work with subcontractors or teaming partners, ensure they also uphold high standards of performance. Collaborate effectively with them and manage the subcontractor relationships well, as their performance can significantly impact your overall past performance evaluation.

Seek performance evaluations: Request formal performance evaluations from your government clients upon project completion. These evaluations carry significant weight in future contract selection processes. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the evaluation criteria used by the specific agency and address any concerns or disputes promptly.

Monitor and address performance gaps: Continuously monitor your performance against the contract requirements and take proactive measures to address any performance gaps. Demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement is essential for building a strong past performance record.

Engage in professional development: Stay up to date with industry trends, best practices, and relevant certifications. Participating in professional development opportunities can enhance your capabilities and demonstrate your commitment to excellence.

Remember, building a strong past performance record takes time and effort. Consistently delivering quality work, maintaining strong relationships, and seeking feedback are key components of success in the government contracting arena.

What are tips can be used for managing different government contract types well?

Here are some helpful tips managing government contracts:

Monitor Costs and Hours: For time and material contracts monitor costs and hours closely to ensure they are within budget and in compliance with applicable regulations and policies. For a cost-reimbursable contract, also monitor your indirect rates closely to ensure they are within budget and in compliance with your approved provisional billing rates. For fixed-price contracts monitor progress and costs closely to ensure costs and deliverable are in sync.

Document Everything: Document all costs and hours worked, including receipts, invoices, and timesheets, to support the costs claimed and ensure compliance with the contract terms and conditions.

Maintain Accurate Timekeeping: Ensure accurate timekeeping records are maintained for all employees working on the project to support labor costs.

Communicate with the Contracting Officer: Maintain open communication with the Contracting Officer and provide regular updates on project progress and any changes or issues that arise.

Seek Approval for Changes: Seek approval for any changes to the scope of work, budget, or other contractual terms and conditions to ensure compliance with contract requirements and avoid any potential penalties or disputes.

Implement Effective Internal Controls: Implement effective internal controls to ensure compliance with applicable regulations and policies, and to identify and mitigate any potential risks or issues. For fixed price contracts, this include putting in place practices such as a detailed work breakdown structure and earned value management system, to manage costs and ensure timely completion of deliverables.

By following these tips, contractors can improve their chances of success in bidding on and managing time and material government contracts. It is important to note that the requirements for bidding on and managing government contracts may vary depending on the specific agency and contract, so contractors should always refer to the applicable regulations and policies for guidance. Managing Grants and Contracts provides more detailed practical insights on how to manage government contracts

What system does the government use to track contractor's performance?

The specific system used by the government to track contractor performance can vary depending on the country and the government agency involved. However, in the United States, one commonly used system is the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS). CPARS is a web-based application used by federal agencies to assess and document contractor performance on government contracts.

CPARS allows contracting officers and their representatives to provide evaluations and ratings on contractor performance in various areas, such as quality of work, adherence to schedule, cost control, and management effectiveness. The system also allows for comments and narratives to provide additional details about the contractor's performance.

The information collected in CPARS helps the government assess the past performance of contractors when making future contract award decisions. It provides a standardized way to document and track contractor performance, allowing for consistent evaluations across different agencies and contracts.

It's important to note that while CPARS is a widely used system in the United States, there may be other systems or processes in place in different countries or government agencies to track contractor performance.

How can a contractor check their performance in the CPARS system?

As a contractor, you can check your performance in the CPARS (Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System) by following these steps:

Register in the System for Award Management (SAM): To access CPARS, you need to have an active registration in SAM. SAM is the primary registration database for contractors doing business with the U.S. government. Ensure your company is registered in SAM and that your information is up to date.

Obtain a DUNS number: The Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number is a unique identifier for your business. If you don't already have a DUNS number, you will need to obtain one. You can request a DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) for free.

Contact the Contracting Officer: Reach out to the Contracting Officer or Contracting Officer's Representative (COR) for the contract(s) you have performed on. They can provide you with information on your performance assessments and the ratings assigned.

Request access to CPARS: If you don't already have access to CPARS, ask the Contracting Officer or COR to grant you access. They can provide you with the necessary login credentials and guidance on using the system.

Review your performance assessments: Once you have access to CPARS, log in to the system and navigate to the appropriate contract(s). You will be able to view the performance assessments and ratings provided by the government for your work. Take the time to thoroughly review the assessments and understand the feedback provided.

Address any issues or disputes: If you believe there are errors or discrepancies in the performance assessments, you can communicate with the Contracting Officer or COR to address any concerns. They can guide you through the process of challenging or correcting the assessments if necessary.

By actively monitoring and addressing your performance assessments in CPARS, you can gain valuable insights into how the government evaluates your work and take steps to improve your performance on future contracts.

How to make past performance most relevant when bidding on a new government contract?

When describing past performance for bidding on a new government contract, it's important to focus on the aspects that are most relevant to the specific requirements of the contract. Here are some steps you can follow to effectively describe your past performance in a way that highlights its relevance:

Understand the new contract requirements: Thoroughly review the solicitation or Request for Proposal (RFP) for the new contract. Identify the key requirements, scope of work, performance criteria, and evaluation factors. This will help you understand what aspects of your past performance are most relevant to highlight.

Select relevant projects: Identify past projects or contracts that closely align with the requirements of the new contract. Look for similarities in the nature of the work, technical expertise, industry, size and complexity, and any specific performance metrics or achievements.

Emphasize relevant achievements: Highlight the specific achievements, successes, and outcomes that are most relevant to the new contract. Focus on demonstrating your ability to meet or exceed performance standards, deliver quality work, and successfully complete similar projects. Include quantifiable results, such as meeting deadlines, achieving cost savings, or receiving positive evaluations.

Provide supporting evidence: Back up your claims by providing supporting evidence of your past performance. This can include performance evaluations, customer testimonials, awards or recognition received, relevant certifications, and any other documentation that validates your capabilities and success.

Tailor your descriptions: Customize your descriptions of past performance to directly address the evaluation factors and requirements outlined in the RFP. Use the same terminology and language to clearly demonstrate how your experience and achievements align with what the government is seeking.

Be concise and clear: Present your past performance information in a concise and organized manner. Use bullet points or headings to make it easy for evaluators to quickly grasp the key points. Ensure your descriptions are clear, specific, and focused on the relevant aspects of your experience.

Include a variety of references: Provide a diverse range of references from different projects, clients, or agencies. This demonstrates your ability to work with various stakeholders and adapt to different contract environments.

Continuously update your performance records: Maintain accurate and up-to-date records of your performance evaluations, project outcomes, and customer feedback. This will help you build a comprehensive repository of relevant past performance information that can be readily used for future bidding opportunities.

By tailoring your past performance descriptions to the specific requirements of the new government contract and providing compelling evidence of your capabilities, you can increase your chances of showcasing your qualifications and winning the contract.

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