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FCW : July 30, 2015
Would you hire contractors to fix your house’s sagging porch without first verifying not only that they could swing a hammer, but that they were competent carpenters whose work had stood the test of time? Probably not — and neither should the government. Knowledge of a worker’s — and a company’s — past performance is the grease on the wheels of commerce in the federal acquisition process. Over the years, the federal government has institutionalized past performance in its deliberations over contracts big and small — so much so that it has become a complicated, sometimes bewildering and utterly integral part of the acquisition environment. By federal mandate, agencies must have an intricate understanding of a company before they sign a contract with it. It’s a laudable goal, but it has also produced daunting electronic and paper trails that contractors must navigate. Jim Hiles and W. Earl Wells’ “Winning With Past Performance: Strategies for Industry and Government” is a guidebook that can help contractors and federal officials traverse those sometimes difficult paths. The two authors know what they’re talking about. Now retired from the Navy, Hiles led the rollout of SeaPort-e, the Navy’s acquisition vehicle for support services in 22 areas, including engineering, financial and program management. Wells has been a proposal manager in the government services division at Electronic Data Systems (now part of Hewlett-Packard) and a proposal and operations manager at other technology companies. The book delves into the details of how the federal contracting workforce tallies, measures and processes federal contractors’ past performance. It gives companies insight into how to craft their answers for federal agencies and gives the federal acquisition workforce a better understanding of how contractors and the Cracking the code on past performance BY MARK ROCKWELL Two veterans of federal contracting help both sides understand this critical but convoluted aspect of acquisition 26 July 30, 2015 FCW.COM Bookshelf 1. Observations of the historical fact of a company’s work experience — the work it performed, when and where it did the work, for whom it did the work and the methods it used. 2. Qualitative judgments about the breadth, depth and relevance of that experience based on those observations. 3. Qualitative judgments about how well the company performed, also based on those observations. Past performance is defined by: 0730fcw_026-028.indd 26 7/8/15 2:27 PM
July 15, 2015
August 15, 2015