The Pentagon is getting more serious about naming and shaming contractors when it comes to companies that officials believe are helping the curb costs, or those that could do better.
Pentagon acquisition policy chief Frank Kendall told reporters June 13 that the entire Defense Department will initiate ranking regimes similar to the Navy Department’s Superior Supplier Incentive Program over the coming year.
To that effect, Kendall and Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley also released the top nine suppliers, by business unit, for the military department home to the Navy and. They are:
• General Dynamics Marine Systems;
•Systems and Training;
• Maritime Helicopter Support Co., a joint venture of Lockheed andsubsidiary Aircraft;
•Integrated Defense Systems;
• Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services; and
The top nine Navy suppliers come from a longer list of 80 business units across 30 companies. Ranking results are being broken into three tiers, with the top third invited by officials to propose ways the Pentagon can "reduce unneeded administrative or overhead burdens."
The tiered rankings will be shared, Stackley said, although neither he nor Kendall detailed how publicly available that information would be. Moreover, the tiered rankings do not have a specific role in source-selection criteria in future awards.
Still, Kendall and Stackley assert the rankings should have an effect over time as companies enjoy or suffer their reputations in the minds of contracting officials, lawmakers and others. Moreover, the rankings will spotlight who should benefit from federal contracting incentives or aspects of the Pentagon’s relatively large buying power. For others, it should goad them into corrective action, they said.
"For the industry part not in that top tier, the recognition of where you are, where your business units are, is going to be a very important incentive for them to find out from their customer what the problems are and to do something about it," Kendall said. "The people who will respond the most are the people on the bottom tier … and that is exactly the kind of behavior we want to see."
Said Stackley: "Public recognition is a very strong incentive. We want to sit down and say, ‘you’ve been a good performer,’ so let’s … figure out what we can do across a contract – within our regulations – to provide added incentive to stay on that path."
Suppliers in the Navy rankings were evaluated using the Pentagon’s Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS), an unclassified enterprise resource software system for collection of contractors’ past-performance information, a contractor quality required under Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and its defense offshoot, the DFAR. Kendall and Stackley said CPARS will be used to judge contractors for the Air Force, Army and other defense agencies, too.
CPARS-type results are shared on a contract-by-contract basis now, but the Superior Supplier Incentive Program is an attempt to take a higher-level approach to assessing a company’s or business unit’s reputation. According to Stackley, "If you’re not on the list and you’re competing against someone on the list, that’s a clue to you that his CPARS outperforms your CPARS."