Proposal writers’ major focus is pre-award. This is completely understandable—your job is to write winning proposals!

But, if you want to focus on the long-term health of your organization, your work doesn’t end with the contract award if you are contributing everything necessary to be successful. Your winning proposal eloquently described to the customer what life will be like once you’ve delivered your promised solution. Your company’s successful execution on these promises is essential to you securing your next win.

How can you, the proposal writer, help with the next win? Becoming an expert in the Contract Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) will help you advocate for the best possible ratings for the work you just won.[intense_blockquote width=”33%” rightalign=”1″]A contractor’s past performance record is its livelihood.[/intense_blockquote]

What You Need to Know about CPARS

The CPARS contains rating information for key areas of contractor performance like quality, schedule, budget, and compliance, along with a description of the work performed by the contractor. Source selection officials use this information so that they can, with a measure of confidence, make awards to contractors who will successfully fulfill contractual requirements.

Source selection officials have visibility into contractor performance across most federal agencies. This visibility helps agencies to make better decisions on behalf of the Federal Government, but it also creates risk for contractors. This is especially true for small businesses who may not understand how to effectively participate in the CPARS rating process or have the resources or experience to negotiate for the best possible ratings for the work they have performed.

Assessing officials face a steadily rising workload for performance reports that must be completed. This increased workload means less time to spend documenting details of contractors’ performance. The good news: FAR 42.103(d) allows contractors to participate in shaping their CPARS records through the comments process.

Too often, contractors process evaluations by simply agreeing with the assessments even if the evaluation narrative lacks important details. This is particularly the case when the contractor receives a satisfactory rating or higher. Instead of just signing off on the evaluation, contractors should provide comments to reinforce the strength of the rating.

Leveraging your Knowledge of CPARS

A contractor’s past performance record is its livelihood. This is a phrase we hear often because it is true. Your company’s future work is significantly impacted by the quality of its performance record in CPARS.

Armed with an understanding of the importance of the CPARS and how they are used, you, the proposal writer, can educate your company on how to effectively manage its CPARS records. As a professional writer well-versed in explaining your company’s strengths, you are also well-positioned to step in and help your company construct quality narratives to advocate for the best possible CPARS ratings.


  • Melissa Howell

    Melissa Howell, CF APMP, has 17 years of experience in the Federal marketplace and is currently the Proposal Director for Government Acquisitions, Inc. She is currently completing her Master’s Degree in English in George Mason University’s Professional Writing and Rhetoric Program.