Seven Steps to Performance-Based Service Acquisition



Over the last decade and a half, innovators in Congress and the executive branch have reformed the laws and policies that govern Federal acquisition. Among the most important of these reforms are the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 (FASA), and the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996. All of these laws send an important message about performance in federal programs and acquisitions.

As is evident from the dates above, performance-based service acquisition is not new. Office of Federal Procurement Policy Pamphlet #4, "A Guide for Writing and Administering Performance Statements of Work for Service Contracts," (now rescinded) described "how to write performance into statements of work" and addressed job analysis, surveillance plans, and quality control in 1980. Eleven years later, OFPP Policy Letter 91-2, Service Contracting," (also now rescinded) established that:

It is the policy of the Federal Government that (1) agencies use performance-based contracting methods to the maximum extent practicable when acquiring services, and (2) agencies carefully select acquisition and contract administration strategies, methods, and techniques that best accommodate the requirements.

The intent is for agencies to describe their needs in terms of what is to be achieved, not how it is to be done. These policies have been incorporated in the Federal Acquisition Regulation Subpart 37.6 (Performance-Based Contracting).

Law and regulation establish a preference for performance-based service acquisition. This Administration continues a long line of support for this acquisition approach. As cited in the Procurement Executives Council's Strategic Plan:

...over the next five years, a majority of the service contracts offered throughout the federal government will be performance-based. In other words, rather than micromanaging the details of how contractors operate, the government must set the standards, set the results and give the contractor the freedom to achieve it in the best way.

(A Performance-Based Preference - Introduction)