Avoid Costly Mistakes When Refuting Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS Ratings.)

When it comes to getting negative contractors ratings your most recent contract, there are very few contractors in federal procurement that never had some level of concern or Challenging Government's CPAR Ratings, & CPARS Evaluationdisagreement with contractor Past Performance Information Retrieval System ratings (PPIRS Ratings) under the Contract Performance Evaluation System (CPARS Evaluation). 

When your company receives a negative contractor performance assessment report, it can ruin your ability to get future federal contracts. Therefore, challenging the evaluation must be immediately addressed.

Many companies attempt this process unaware of the serious legal implications of not properly addressing the mistakes made by the government and the showing the relevant procurement law that has been violated.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has made it clear that the federal government has a contractual and legal duty to not hinder your performance or prevent you from obtaining the fruits of your contractual bargain. See Precision Pine & Timber, Inc. v. United States, 596 F.3d 817, 820 n.1 (Fed. Cir. 2010); Centex Corp. v. United States, 395 F.3d 1283, 1304 (Fed. Cir. 2005).

  • The agency is required to follow its own definitions discussed as CPARS evaluations 
  • When unacceptable performance is alleged the Contracting Officer must be able to produce documentation to substantiate the performance evaluation.

contractor past performance ratingsThe Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) mandate that contractor performance information be collected (FAR Part 42.15) and used in source selection evaluations (FAR Part 15). 

Companies are often misguided on how to formally challenge contractor performance ratings. As a result, they spend thousands of dollars only to find out they did not follow the correct process.

Negative contractor CPAR ratings can severely impact your ability to get future government contracts. Therefore, it is essential for government contractors to understand their legal rights under the CPARs Evaluation process. The agency often lacks documentation to support their contractor performance assessments and even may tread on its legal obligation under the duty of good faith and fair dealing.

In many cases, there is no record showing that the Contracting Officer, through the COTR has ever addressed contract performance deficiencies with the contractor. This can become a problem for the government when there is a performance-based contract involved.

  • The key to challenging CPARS past performance ratings is to provide detailed explanations when the government sends the evaluation to you.
  • Add additional pages if necessary.
  • Do not simply disagree with the agency’s contractor performance assessment report, you must focus on the relevant details and present evidence to support your position of why your contractor performance evaluation is not justified.

Courts have struggled with how to deal with contract performance situations where contractors seek court intervention with contractor performance assessment reporting. However, both the Boards of Contract Appeals and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims agree that CPARS challenges can fall within the purview of the Contract Disputes Act (CDA).

Contractor Performance Evaluation & CPARS Ratings

When challenging the government’s contractor performance evaluation ratings, companies should first see whether the agency provided completed assessment rating for any comment or rebuttal. The CPARS evaluation process provides some minimum level of due process. See FAR 42.1503.

However, the ability to dispute final contractors ratings in PPIRS or CPARS evaluations can be very difficult. When you receive notice of the final contractor performance assessment reporting review, you have 30 days to respond to comments or rebuttal to unsatisfactory past performance ratings.

  • Presenting details at this stage sets the stage for protecting your rights on appeal.
  • You cannot introduce new evidence at the appeal stage.

The Reviewing Official is responsible for reviewing the contractor performance assessment report, commenting on contract performance, and then issuing a CPAR when the review reflects a disagreement between the Assessing Official and the contractor. Once the agency reviewing official enters her final decision over the contractor’s dispute, the past performance evaluation ratings will then enter into its final resting place called PPIRS, the Past Performance Information Retrieval System.

Initiating CPAR Ratings Challenge

The first step when challenging contractor performance assessment reports, CPAR ratings and evaluation reviews is to provide a lengthy detailed and factual basis for your disagreement in your response. Government contractors should point to inaccuracies in the record; it is crucial to have documentation throughout the performance period supporting your disagreement.

  • You should also ask the contracting officer for a re-evaluation of contract performance although the FAR does not require it.
  • If you need more than allowed 30 days to respond the less than satisfactory CPARs rating, always ask the agency in writing.

Initiating the Formal CPARS Evaluation Challenge? Once the contractor ratings and CPARS evaluation are completed by the agency, government contractors should initiate a claim with the Contracting Officer under the Contract Disputes Act.

  • Failure to follow this step will prove disastrous for any appeal filed either at the Board of Contracts Appeal or U.S Court of Federal Claims.
  • Challenging the government’s contractor past performance evaluation is legally considered a dispute relating to the contract under the CDA.

The Act requires that “[a]ll claims by a contractor against the government relating to a contract shall be in writing and shall be submitted to the contracting officer for a decision.” 41 USC 605(a). This includes filing a claim that disputes contractors ratings under the contract.

Your CPARS evaluation dispute claims should not simply reflect a disagreement with the government.

  • The contractor performance evaluation must be complete in order to start the claims or appeal process.
  • The CDA claim should be specific and detailed enough to allow the contracting officer to make a reasonable determination.
  • You must receive a contracting officer’s final decision before looking to appeal to the Board or Court of Federal Claims.

Appealing Contractor Past Performance & CPARs Ratings

After the Contracting Officer issues a final decision denying your claim to change your CPARS ratings, the disputes process now gives the appellate court subject matter jurisdiction to hear your complaint.

There are numerous contractor CPAR ratings appeal cases that were dismissed simply because the contractor did not follow the required process. This cannot only be a waste of valuable effort, but also a substantial waste of time and legal fees. See information about evaluating subcontractor past performance.

Find Out More About Our Practice Areas and How We Can Help You

For additional help preparing a Contract Disputes Act claims with challenging the government’s contractor performance assessment report and CPARs ratings,  and to avoid costly legal mistakes, call our government contract lawyers at 1-866-601-5518.

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