Two new Pentagon-funded Web sites are designed to encourage fiercer
competition among vendors vying for contract awards.
One of the sites is for the Defense Department’s Past Performance
Automated Information System (PPAIS), a central database that allows
program managers and contracting officials to review the past performance
records of potential bidders. This Web page, available at http://dodppais.navy.mil,
provides users with access to more than 8,600 past-performance report
cards, which embody more than $300 billion in defense contracts.
The reason that the Web site contains a Navy address is that the
program is managed by the Naval Sea Logistics Center (NSLC) Detachment,
in Portsmouth, N.H.
NSLC was chosen to harbor PPAIS because of its experience in managing
the Navy’s Contractor Performance Assessment and Reporting
System (CPARS), which offers information on more than $80 billion
in Navy contracts and delivery orders. Now, NSLC has the responsibility
of providing a core database for all of the services. Each service—the
Army, Navy and Air Force—still maintains its own system, officials
said. But PPAIS acts as a supplement for conducting research across
PPAIS pulls report cards from the Army’s Past Performance
Information Management System, the Navy’s CPARS, the Air Force
CPARS and the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Past Performance
The project is sponsored by the Joint Electronic Commerce Program
Office (JECPO), which is located at the Defense Logistics Agency,
at Fort Belvoir, Va. Online past performance evaluation is another
initiative designed to help the Pentagon reach its goal of eliminating
paperwork from the contracting process.
A popular method throughout the department for evaluating potential
contractors is to review their past experiences in doing business
with the Pentagon. If a vendor’s past performance record shows
positive marks, the buyer may be more inclined to enlist that contractor’s
The system is available to Defense Department personnel for market
surveys and source selection. Contractors are allowed access only
to their own data.
To get access to the system, users must have a Web browser that
supports 128-bit encryption. They must obtain a UserID and password
at the site and then request access. According to the PPAIS user
manual: “Generally, the user would request access from the
head of the component group affiliated with his or her command.”
Once inside the system, the user can modify his or her group’s
account or retrieve past performance report cards by typing in a
contract number, delivery order number or contractor’s name.
If an acquisition agent wishes to review a vendor’s entire
contracting history, he or she can simply type the contractor’s
name and click on “submit.” This system then will retrieve
all of the performance report cards assigned to the specified contractor.
For larger or more experienced contractors, users can narrow their
search to include only specific business sectors.
The past performance evaluation method has received criticism from
those companies that have no prior experience in working with the
Pentagon. This problem particularly applies to small businesses.
Some defense officials suggest that companies with no prior defense
contracting experience should perform work in the commercial sector,
so those records can be used as a basis for past performance evaluation
for those seeking government contracts (December 2000, p.31).
Another Web site designed to heat up competition between public
and private vendors is the Defense Logistic Agency’s SHARE
A-76. This Web site, launched in December 2000, allows people in
the defense community to share their experiences in using the A-76
competitive sourcing process and compare costs.
A-76 contracts are those in which competition is open to both government
and industry bidders. Contracting officers use the A-76 process
to compare the cost of outsourcing a contract to the cost of doing
the work in-house.
This new Web site, http://emissary.acq. osd.mil/inst/share.nsf,
was developed by Arthur Andersen for about $800,000. It provides
those who are new to the A-76 process with the general information
needed to get them started. It offers links to internal and external
A-76 information. And the site allows field technicians from each
of the services to learn lessons from each other, officials said.
Those who visit the site can review Office of Management and Budget
policy, perform research and contribute experiences of their own.
“SHARE A-76 was created to educate people about the A-76
cost comparison process and to provide a means for people to share
the knowledge and experience they have gained by working with the
process,” according to the site. “The Web site aims
to reduce unnecessary variations in practice and duplication of
efforts, and to promote innovation, collaboration and the adoption
of best practices. The ultimate purpose of the Web site is to improve
the cost comparison process across [the Defense Department] by reducing
cycle times, improving the quality of each cost comparison, and
disseminating the lessons learned to a broad audience.”
A-76 contracts, over the past few years, generally have been split
50-50 between the military and commercial communities, officials
said. But the process has still saved money for the department,
Many government workers, however, claim that the A-76 process unfairly
favors contractors. Conversely, many contractors believe that the
process is biased toward keeping government work in-house.