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Contractor performance data to become public

Aug. 6, 2010 - 06:00AM   |  
By TOM SPOTH   |   Comments
A provision in the bill by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., requires that information in the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) be posted online, excluding contractors' performance reviews.
A provision in the bill by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., requires that information in the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) be posted online, excluding contractors' performance reviews. (HEATHER WINES / GANNETT NEWS SERVICE)

Some federal contractor performance data will be made public as part of the 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act, which President Obama signed into law July 29.

A provision in the bill by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., requires that information in the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) be posted online, excluding contractors' performance reviews. It will cover any penalties the government has assessed against contractors, as well as contract terminations, information on suspension and debarment agreements, and criminal and civil court proceedings.

The FAPIIS database was created under the 2008 Clean Contracting Act and was launched by the Office of Management and Budget in March as a way to provide federal contracting officers and other officials involved in contract awards with all available information about contractors' past behavior. So far, access to contractor performance information has been limited to government employees.

Watchdog groups hailed the new law that will make the information public.

"There was never any valid reason to keep this database from the public in the first place," said Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, in a statement. POGO urged the administration to post contractor performance information as soon as possible, noting that there has been no word on how, when or where the database will be made public.

OMB Watch, another organization that has argued for transparency in the FAPIIS database, also praised the move but said the exclusion of past performance reviews is "a huge loss."

Contractors are concerned contractor performance data will be misused if it is made public.

The Professional Services Council said in an Aug. 5 statement that FAPIIS "could create a politically motivated blacklist of vendors and improperly limit the government's ability to access the best qualified vendors in the marketplace."

"While firms are accountable for their past performance, opening portions of the database that are not now already publicly available elsewhere could risk improperly influencing the evaluation and selection of otherwise qualified bidders because of public pressure to ‘blacklist' certain vendors," said PSC Executive Vice President and Counsel Alan Chvotkin. "Furthermore, public posting risks the inappropriate and potentially damaging disclosure of company proprietary information while doing nothing to further government oversight or decision making."

Chvotkin said his association will press the General Services Administration and other federal agencies "to ensure the proper and fair implementation of the public posting requirement."

OMB said it is working on details for how to implement the new law. OMB spokesman Kenneth Baer said the Obama administration "is committed to openness and transparency especially when it comes to how taxpayers' dollars are spent."

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