Industry groups object to sources cited for Air Force BPA decision

Industry groups object to sources cited for Air Force BPA decision

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

Two industry groups are pushing the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to set rules for agencies that use past performance as a criterion in contract selection.

A recent case spurred a letter to OFPP from the Professional Services Council and the Information Technology Association of America arguing that use of past performance was, in that instance, inappropriate.

In the case, the Air Force's Standard Systems Group used a trade magazine's product preference survey to narrow competition for several blanket purchasing agreements.

Professional Services Council president Bert M. Concklin said the council and ITAA have supported using past performance as a selection criterion. In the Air Force case, however, the selection 'involves the misuse of inappropriate past-performance information as a basis for barring many reputable, capable companies from consideration,' he said.

He said the survey was informal and irrelevant, and called the Air Force's decision to use it incredibly ill-advised.

'We believe strongly that the basic past-performance principles that have been developed by OFPP and widely implemented in government must be universally applicable,' Concklin said.

'This is uniquely important for past performance because it, more than any other element of the reform architecture, has a major, and often dominant, impact on who can compete and who wins or loses,' he said.

The published survey the Air Force used was not intended to provide a detailed assessment of past performance; it was almost equivalent to a man-on-the-street interview, Concklin said. It was not related to the work the Air Force was contemplating.

'We suggest this practice completely contradicts the most fundamental precepts of how past-performance systems should operate,' Concklin said.

OFPP administrator Deidre A. Lee said recently she would look at the award and would consider whether criteria are needed. But she said she had no criticisms of the award.

Past performance is one of the central tenets of procurement reform. Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation and OFPP's best practices guidance, vendors should have the opportunity to rebut negative reviews.

Concklin said he would like OFPP to issue guidance to avoid such mishaps in the future.

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