Past performance information is a key indicator of an offeror’s ability to successfully perform a contract and is required to be considered by agencies when making most types of contract awards. Many small businesses, however, get their entrance into government contracting through subcontracts to prime contractors. These first-tier small business subcontractors often have a difficult time providing verifiable past performance because they are outside of the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) process that provides that information for prime contractors.

The good news for first-tier small business subcontractors is that the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amended the Small Business Act to require the Small Business Administration (SBA) to implement a pilot program to establish past performance ratings for small business subcontractors. Under this program, a small business concern without a past performance rating as a prime contractor in the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) may request a past performance rating in CPARS if the small business is a first-tier subcontractor under a covered Federal Government contract requiring a subcontracting plan in accordance with FAR 19.702(a). Ratings of subcontractor performance can also be requested on subcontracts that exceed the simplified acquisition threshold, or subcontracts for architecture-engineering services valued at $35,000 or more as provided in FAR 42.1502.

On April 20, 2018, SBA published a 60-day notice with proposed procedures to collect this information for the pilot. Under the proposed procedures, the small business would submit a SBA Form 2465, which requires the subcontractor’s DUNS number, subcontract number, completion date, total dollar value and suggested rating for each factor. The subcontractor would next submit the form electronically along with written evidence of its past performance to a specific SBA email. The subcontractor must submit the information within 270 calendar days after completing the work for which a past performance rating is sought or within 180 calendar days after the prime contractor completes work on the contract, whichever is earlier. The forms would then be submitted to the relevant agency’s Office of Small Business Utilization (OSDBU) and the prime contractor for the covered contract for review. Both would have 30 days to review and provide a response to the proposed rating.

If there is an agreement on the rating, then the proposed ranking will be entered into the PPIRS. If there is a failure to respond by both OSDBU and the prime, if the OSDBU and the prime disagree with the subcontractor’s suggested rating, or if one of them fails to respond and the other responds and disagrees with the rating, then the disagreement goes to the appropriate official and the small business has 14 days to submit a rebuttal. The official shall then enter neither a favorable nor unfavorable ranking in PPIRS together with the initial application, the responses, and any rebuttal.

The pilot program shall terminate three years after the date on which the first applicant receives a past performance rating.

SBA is requesting comments on this proposed collection of information by June 19, 2018, including: (1) Whether there are ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information; (2) whether the burden estimates are accurate and based on valid assumptions and methodology; and (3) whether there are ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of automated techniques or other forms of information technology.