CPARS evaluations are a critical component of government-contractor communications. When properly utilized they can provide timely feedback on contractor performance, share performance evaluations among government agencies and elevate and resolve lingering issues.
At times, however, they can also be used to purposely convey negative, one sided, and even punitive messages to a contractor.
What should you do if you receive a negative CPARS evaluation?
As in all other contractual matters, do the basics: when you prepare your contractor response – provide objective, factual and traceable information reflecting actions you have taken to improve. These might include tech data (e.g. ECPs), records of daily communications and meeting minutes or self- disclosures of problems. This information serves as the baseline of “your side of the story”.
If the government makes some valid points, develop a positive, time phased executable improvement plan, including government actions needed. Request a face–to-face meeting with the contracting officer and key client officials who assess your work and explain your path forward – you want their feedback because you will want to transform how they assess your performance.
A negative CPARS can be viewed similarly to a debriefing after losing a bid: a prime opportunity to step back, assess and learn quickly how to reset your path ahead. Any negative CPARS evaluation that doesn’t recognize “your side of the story” is a clear indicator your client relationship needs to be fixed.
How to increase the chance of a positive CPARS? “Position” for it up front and early by adopting the above basics at the start of work meeting. Most importantly, keep records of every interaction with your government client. For example, if you have a phone call and receive guidance, follow up with an email summarizing your conversation.
As in all government-contractor interactions – records matter. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to overturn a negative CPARS without clear records supporting your position.