U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Home
  2. Past Performance

Past Performance


Alternate Definition

Past performance information is relevant information for source selection purposes regarding a contractor’s actions under previously awarded contracts. It includes the contractor’s:

  • Record of conforming to contract requirements and to standards of good workmanship
  • Record of forecasting and controlling costs
  • Adherence to contract schedules (including administrative aspects of performance)
  • History of reasonable and cooperative behavior and commitment to customer satisfaction
  • Record of integrity and business ethics
  • Business-like concern for the interest of the customer
General Information

A significant factor in the Government’s selection of contractors is the contractors’ history of past performance. It is one of the primary evaluation factors for many acquisitions, along with factors such as price, delivery, and quality. If a contractor has demonstrated poor performance on past contracts, it increases the likelihood of poor performance on future contracts. The currency and relevance of the information, source of the information, context of the data, and general trends in contractor’s performance must be considered. This comparative assessment of past performance information is separate from the responsibility determination required under FAR Subpart 9.1. In the case of an offeror without a record of relevant past performance or for whom information on past performance is not available, the offeror cannot be evaluated favorably or unfavorably on past performance.

In order for contracting officers to draw upon past performance information when evaluating offerors, a reliable history of past performance information must be available. If the contracting officer determines that a small business’ past performance is not acceptable, the matter must be referred to the Small Business Administration for a Certificate of Competency determination (FAR Subpart 19.6).


FAR Requirements for Evaluating Past Performance

The official source for past performance information upon which contracting officers can draw is the Governmentwide performance information repository Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS). In addition to CPARS, contracting officers use the following sources of information to support such determinations:


  1. The System for Award Management Exclusions in accordance with FAR 9.404.
  2. Records and experience data, including verifiable knowledge of personnel within the contracting office, audit offices, and contract administration offices.
  3. The prospective contractor, including information provided in bid or proposal certifications (e.g., the certification at FAR 52.209-5), questionnaire replies, financial data, information on production equipment, and personnel information.
  4. Commercial sources of supplier information.
  5. Preaward survey reports (see FAR 9.106).
  6. Other sources such as publications; suppliers, subcontractors, and customers of the prospective contractor; financial institutions; Government agencies; and business and trade associations.


The requirement to evaluate past performance also depends on the type of acquisition being conducted. Generally, past performance must be evaluated for acquisitions expected to exceed the simplified acquisition threshold (FAR 42.1502(b)) (though see the DFARS exceptions for DoD). Key points from the FAR:


  • Commercial item acquisitions: Past performance should be an important element of every evaluation and contract award for commercial products and commercial services (FAR 12.206).
  • Simplified acquisitions: Past performance may be an evaluation factor in addition to price (FAR 13.106-1(a)(2)).
  • Negotiated acquisitions: Technical or past performance considerations play a more dominant role in source selection when (i) the requirement is less defined, (ii) more development work is required, and/or (iii) performance risk is greater (FAR 15.101).
  • The quality of the product or service must be addressed in every source selection through consideration of one or more non-cost evaluation factors such as past performance, compliance with solicitation requirements, technical excellence, management capability, personnel qualifications, and prior experience. FAR 15.304(c)(2)
  • Past performance must be evaluated in all source selections for negotiated competitive acquisitions expected to exceed the simplified acquisition threshold unless the contracting officer documents the reason past performance is not an appropriate evaluation factor for the acquisition (FAR 15.304(c)(3)). However, note the deviation for DoD acquisitions.
  • Past performance evaluations are required for construction contracts valued at $750,000 or more and for architect-engineer services contracts of $35,000 or more (FAR 42.1502(e) and (f)).
  • Past performance evaluations for certain procurements must include an assessment of contractor performance against, and efforts to achieve, the goals identified in the small business subcontracting plan (FAR 42.1502(g)).