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commercial world perceive past performance. Reaching a mutual under- standing with regard to past- performance reviews is becoming even more valuable as the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the General Services Administration seek to centralize all sorts of contracting data into one-stop expert hallways and managed categories for IT products and services. Past performance is the foundation on which all federal contractors build their livelihoods. However, despite almost 20 years of the federal government using past performance to distinguish bidders, “both the collection and use of past-performance information remain disjointed, siloed and not well understood by either government or industry,” they wrote. Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel at the Professional Services Council, notes in the book’s preface that the federal marketplace has seen “an almost continuous expansion of federal regulations, agency initiatives, and contracting officer trainings focused on measuring contractor performance, reporting on that performance in a consistent and timely manner, and evaluating those past-performance reports for future source selection decisions. Government contractors must pay close attention, or they face exclusion from future awards.” The authors dive deep into Contractor Performance Assessment Reports, past- performance cycles, strategies for filling out past-performance evaluations, documentation and other paperwork. There are also templates for reports that show strategies and techniques for sharing contractors’ “stories” with federal contracting staff in the most compelling and efficient way. Details are important, and the authors stress that it’s not enough for a firm to say how many years of experience it has. Instead, companies must explain what kind of experience and the scenarios in which the work was performed. As Chvotkin notes in the preface, the goal of the book is to show how the federal government uses information on past performance. Hiles and Wells help firms make the most of past-performance information for future opportunities, and they offer a valuable tutorial for agency officials who want to get up to speed on those intricate requirements. n Jim Hiles and W. Earl Wells have identified several trends that will affect the measurement of past performance: • Increased standardization and digitization. The 2013 rewrite of Federal Acquisition Regulation Part 42 continued the standardization of past-performance documentation. The melding of the Contractor Appraisal Support System, the Defense Department’s Architect-Engineer Contract Administration Support System, and the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System into Contractor Performance Assessment Reports is ample evidence of that trend. • Faster access to reviews. Hiles and Wells predict that information on contractor performance, along the lines of Yelp reviews, will be instantaneously available for federal buyers and suppliers as past-performance data becomes standardized and centralized in federal databases. • Increased analyzability of information. There currently is not enough uniformity in past- performance data to effectively mine it, but standardization will increase capabilities for data mining and analysis. • More insight into reviewers’ identities. The Angie’s List “reviews you can trust” are based on reviewers who are not anonymous. Being able to understand and validate a federal reviewer’s identity has been missing from the government’s processes, say the authors, who predict that more transparency and access will allow reviewers’ identities to play a larger role in the process. • Increased reviewer accountability. Knowing reviewers’ identities means they will be held more accountable for those reviews. Just as reviewers on Amazon and eBay can lose credibility if they give only positive or negative feedback, federal reviewers could find themselves viewed skeptically if they prove less than objective in their assessments. What the future holds Bookshelf 28 July 30, 2015 FCW.COM 0730fcw_026-028.indd 28 7/8/15 2:27 PM
July 15, 2015
August 15, 2015