Is past performance a factor in GWACs?

How can you use past performance to select a vendor for a governmentwide acquisition
contract? That's the question more than a dozen federal officials got together to hash
out.

 The consensus: It ain't easy.

 Federal Consulting Services Inc. of Vienna, Va., organized the recent session. It
took place at a specially equipped conference room at Soza & Company Ltd. of Fairfax,
Va. The meeting's members consisted of managers and customers of several GWACs, including:


 Chief Information Officer Solutions and Partners contract at the National Institutes
of Health

 Defense Enterprise Integration Services II contract at the Defense Information
Systems Agency

 Information Technology Omnibus Procurement at the Transportation Department

 Information Technology Systems and Services contract at the Justice Department.

 The one-day discussion came at a time when the Office of Federal Procurement Policy
is strongly weighing GWACs' potential to let feds skirt competition rules and dilute
federal buying power. Vendors also are looking askance at the proliferation of GWACs and
questioning the effect on sales and profits.

 Based in part on a summary of the meeting, OFPP administrator Steven Kelman
scheduled a summit of major GWAC program managers. Kelman said he will ask them for what
he called a Mayflower compact, an agreement to police use of their GWACs.

 During the GWAC meeting in Virginia, the participants sat before computers equipped
with group decision-making software and tried to reach a consensus on items such as
quality and timeliness.

 Those two criteria, plus productivity, quantity and cost, are the five vendor
performance characteristics that OFPP has directed agencies to use when evaluating past
performance.

 Feds generally agreed that they don't want a governmentwide database of vendor
performance records. "Let vendors give me a set of references," one DEIS II user
said. "I don't want a lot of evaluation paperwork." 

Another DEIS II customer said her agency keeps its own rolling database on vendor
performance. Old data is replaced as performance data, gleaned from questionnaires
circulated to the buyers, becomes available through new statements of work.

 Agency officials also agreed that using GWACs to build major systems incrementally
can add new risks. 

"We use GWACs because our contracting officer wouldn't let us break a big project
into small steps. If I don't get what I want, it's my problem," one ITSS user
said. 


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