NIH lets agencies tap vendor performance system

The National Institutes of Health has created a database that agencies can use to help
manage vendor past-performance evaluations.


NIH’s Contractor Performance System is one of the first government databases that
lets agencies evaluate a vendor’s performance on multiple contracts, agency officials
said.


“We’re the only game in town that has been up and running,” said Diane
Frasier, director of NIH’s Office of Contracts Management.


NIH has been running the system—designed, developed and implemented by the NIH
Center for Information Technology—since 1996.


So far, 4,000 contracting officials in seven agencies use the system, Frasier said. NIH
recently began promoting it governmentwide.


The database currently contains information about more than 1,000 contracts, and
agencies are adding data about more buys all the time, said Phyllis Donoghue, program
manager for the Contractor Performance System.


As agencies join in using the system, many fill in data from past contracts, Donoghue
said.


The system rates contractors on a scale of zero to five, five being superior.


The program asks the users to fill in information and ratings in the areas of product
or service quality, cost control, timeliness, business practices, subcontractors, key
personnel and customer service.


NIH provides a separate module for each agency that subscribes to the system and
provides a separate uniform resource locator so the agency can control agency data and
access authority.


The system is Web-based so NIH can make systems upgrades transparently, Donoghue said.


Plus, agencies need only a Web browser to use it. “There are no hardware
constraints,” she said.


NIH houses the data in a DB2 database running on an IBM Corp. mainframe at the center.


Contracting officers post contract information on the Web site. NIH center staff
members prepare the reviews based on the information sent by the agencies.


NIH notifies contracting officers via e-mail to check the evaluations. The contracting
officers do the final reviews and must approve an evaluation.


After a contracting officer submits a final evaluation report, NIH sends it to the
vendor for review.


The vendor has 30 days to review it and return it with comments before NIH adds the
data to the Contractor Performance System database.


Currently, the notifications to vendors are done on paper, but NIH is working on making
that process electronic as well, Donoghue said.


More information about the agency’s system can be found at http://ocm.od.nih.gov/cdmp.htm.  

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