What is CPARS?
When you go through the GSA Schedule acquisition process, you are evaluated on many levels. From administrative and financial records, to past performance and your pricing, GSA takes a very close look at your company. This is because GSA wants to make sure you are going to be a reliable contractor and can supply the products and services you intend to offer. However, once you have made it successfully through the acquisition process and are awarded your GSA Schedule contract, the evaluations don’t necessarily evaporate.
Several GSA Schedule contractors are subject to Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) ratings. CPARS ratings are annual performance reviews written by government agencies to track how well you are meeting contractual requirements. These reviews are important because they can influence future contract award decisions, and consequently, future business. Here’s what you need to know about how the CPARS ratings work and if they apply to you as a GSA Schedule contractor.
What is CPARS?
The Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) is a web-based system that allows government agencies to report and rate contractor performance. Just like with annual job evaluations or report cards in school, the government tracks how a contractor is performing during a specific period of time and gives you a detailed record. These reports include cost performance reports, quality reviews, financial solvency assessments, and earned contract incentives.
CPARS is used to assess contractors for their performance in:
- Cost Control (for contracts that are not firm-fixed price)
- Management or business relations
- Small Business Subcontracting
- Regulatory Compliance
Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), government agencies are required to make detailed and complete statements about a contractor’s performance based on the objective data above (or measurable data when objective isn’t available). The evaluations are written by government officials such as Program Managers, Contracting Officers, and Contracting Officer’s Representatives.
What is the Purpose of CPARS?
CPARS ensures that current, complete, and accurate information is available to make informed procurement source selections. In other words, CPARS is not only a record, but it’s used for future award making decisions. CPARS ratings are used as a resource in awarding best value contracts and orders to contractors who provide quality products and services. So as with any evaluation, the better you score, the more you are likely to be rewarded.
Ideally, CPARS is used to improve how government money is spent when awarded to contractors. Contractors should take the ratings and narratives in CPARS very seriously because it will impact your future contract awards.
If you have worked with the government in the past, you can also use CPARS ratings for your past performance requirement in the GSA Schedule proposal as long as you have 3 or more ratings.
Which Contracts Are Given CPARS Ratings?
There are several contractors who will receive CPARS ratings under FAR 42.1502. You are subject to past performance evaluations through CPARS if:
- Your contract exceeds the Simplified Acquisition Threshold (SAT) of $250,000 (excluding architect-engineer contracts). This includes single-agency and multiple-agency contracts.
- You have an architect-engineer contract and it is greater than or equal to $35,000.
- Your architect-engineer contract was terminated for default regardless of contract value.
- You have a construction contract that exceeds $750,000.
- You are providing critical supplies and services under the SAT. The government may choose to evaluate your performance for certain critical contracts, and it's decided on a case-by-case basis.
It’s important to note that only the prime contractor’s performance is evaluated. Since the prime contractor has privity between their company and the subcontractor, separate evaluations cannot be included in CPARS ratings. However, subcontractors' efforts can be noted on prime evaluations through their DUNS Number.
What Are the CPARS Ratings?
The government writes CPARS evaluations once a year throughout the life of the contract and when the work under the contract is completed.
For example, if you have a 5-year contract, you will have Interim Reports for years 1 through 4, and a Final Report for the 5th year. After the contract is completed, government officials can write an optional Addendum Report. Addendum Reports may address performance in areas such as contract closeout, compliance with warranty requirements, and other administrative requirements.
CPARS ratings are listed as the following:
- Very Good
Plus or minus signs may be used to indicate an improving or worsening trend if the evaluation status does not change from one report to the next.
What Happens When CPARS Ratings Are Released?
Once a government agency official finishes preparing an evaluation, they will submit it electronically in CPARS.gov. You will then receive a CPARS-system generated notification when an evaluation is ready for comment. You will have up to 14 days from the date of notification to submit any comments, rebutting statements, or additional information. If you note any discrepancies in the ratings, agencies will provide officials above the Contracting Officer level to review.
Each evaluation in CPARS goes through the following 6 steps:
- Contract Registration: entry of basic contract/order award information.
- Enter Proposed Ratings: the Assessing Official will enter the proposed ratings and narratives reflecting the contractor’s performance.
- Validate Proposed Ratings: this step allows for the Assessing Official to review the proposed ratings and verify that the narratives are detailed, comprehensive, complete, and accurate.
- Contractor Comments: this is when contractors can provide any comments and indicate whether they don’t agree with the evaluation.
- Review Contractor Comments: allows the Assessing Official to modify and close the evaluation (when the contractor concurs).
- Reviewing Official Comments: is applicable, this step allows for the Reviewing Official to review the ratings if the contractor does not agree with the original evaluation.
Ratings will be made available to use for source selection no later than 14 days after they are released in CPARS. Any unresolved comments from contractors pending review will be noted and updated as necessary.
Keeping Up with GSA Schedule Requirements
CPARS is an important way for you to build up credibility as a GSA contractor and to ensure greater success in future contract awards. But CPARS isn’t the only way you are evaluated as a contractor. In addition to CPARS, there are several other GSA Schedule requirements you need to keep up with throughout the life of your contract such as Contractor Assessments and reporting your sales.
If you want to learn more about maintenance requirements and keeping up with your GSA Schedule, you can check out our complete maintenance checklist. If have any questions about CPARS or your GSA Schedule contract, one of our consultants would be happy to help you.
About Stephanie Hagan
Stephanie Hagan is the Content Writer and Digital Editor for Winvale where she helps the marketing department continue to develop and distribute GSA and government contracting content. Stephanie grew up in Sarasota, Florida, and earned her Bachelor's of Arts in Journalism and Rhetoric/Communications from the University of Richmond.