Contractor Performance: DOD Actions to Improve the Reporting of Past Performance Information

GAO-13-589 Published: Jun 27, 2013. Publicly Released: Jun 27, 2013.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights

What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) strategy for improving the reporting of contractor past performance information consists of providing additional training to its acquisition workforce and developing tools and metrics to improve oversight. The number of personnel trained more than doubled since 2010 to more than 7,000, and DOD oversight officials now have the ability to track compliance with reporting requirements down to the level of individual contracting offices. DOD continues to utilize existing past performance guidance, which generally aligns with requirements specified in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012.

Compliance metrics show that the submission of required assessments has increased. Specifically, the percentage of required assessments submitted increased from 56 to 74 percent from October 2011 to April 2013. Officials at DOD said the ability to track completion of assessments has greatly improved oversight and accountability. Despite this progress, DOD faces challenges completing assessments on time.

DOD officials attribute the lack of timeliness to acquisition workforce shortages, turnover, and the difficulty in obtaining needed information. DOD is working with other agencies on a regulatory change, consistent with a requirement in the NDAA for 2012, that would reduce the time allowed for contractors to submit comments on draft assessments. This change should help officials submit final assessments on a more timely basis.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD relies on contractors to perform a broad array of activities. Having complete, timely, and accurate information on contractor performance is critical so officials responsible for awarding new federal contracts can make informed decisions. Agencies are required to document contractor performance for contracts exceeding certain dollar thresholds.

In 2009, GAO found that contractor past performance information was incomplete, citing low priority and lack of system tools and metrics to track compliance. In 2011, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) reported that DOD assessments often lacked sufficiently detailed narratives. Section 806 of the NDAA for 2012 required DOD to develop a strategy to ensure that contractor performance assessments are complete, timely, and accurate. Section 806 also required GAO to report on DOD's actions and their effectiveness. GAO (1) identified actions taken by DOD to improve the quality and timeliness of past performance information and implement provisions of the act, and (2) assessed the effectiveness of those actions. GAO reviewed DOD policy and guidance, and interviewed DOD and OFPP officials. GAO also reviewed available data on compliance with reporting requirements from 2011-2013 and timeliness data for fiscal years 2010-2012. GAO did not independently assess the quality of assessment narratives.

GAO is not making any recommendations in this report. DOD concurred with GAO's findings and OFPP had no comments.

For more information, contact William T. Woods at (202) 512-4841 or

Full Report

GAO Contacts