What is CPARS? Why Does CPARS Matter in Government Contracting?

What is CPARS? Why Does CPARS Matter in Government Contracting?

By: | Date: 2024-05-09

Are GSA Schedule contractors evaluated on many levels during the acquisition process, from administrative and financial records to past performance and pricing? GSA scrutinizes your company closely to ensure reliability as a contractor capable of supplying the intended products and services. However, even after successfully acquiring a GSA Schedule contract, do the evaluations persist?

Several GSA Schedule contractors are subject to Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) ratings, which entail annual performance reviews by government agencies to monitor compliance with contractual requirements. These reviews carry significant weight as they can impact future contract award decisions and, consequently, future business prospects. Want to understand how CPARS ratings function and whether they apply to you as a GSA Schedule contractor? Here’s what you need to know.

What is CPARS?

Are you familiar with CPARS? If not, then don’t worry! We are here to help you out with this. The Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) is an online platform utilized by government agencies to report and assess contractor performance. 

Similar to annual job evaluations or school report cards, CPARS tracks a contractor's performance over a specific period and provides a comprehensive record. These reports encompass various aspects including cost performance, quality reviews, financial solvency assessments, and earned contract incentives.

CPARS evaluates contractors based on:

  • Technical proficiency
  • Cost control (for contracts that are not firm-fixed-price)
  • Schedule adherence
  • Management or business relations
  • Small business subcontracting
  • Regulatory compliance

According to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), government agencies must furnish detailed and comprehensive statements regarding a contractor's performance, relying on objective data when available (or measurable data when objectivity isn't feasible). These evaluations are authored by government officials such as Program Managers, Contracting Officers, and Contracting Officer’s Representatives.

Also read: How to Optimize Your GSA Schedule Pricelist

What's the purpose behind CPARS? Why Does CPARS Matter in Government Contracting?

CPARS serves to ensure that current, complete, and accurate information is accessible for informed procurement source selections. In simpler terms, it's not just a record; it's pivotal for future award-making decisions. CPARS ratings function as a key resource in awarding contracts and orders to contractors who consistently deliver quality products and services. Essentially, the higher your score, the greater your likelihood of being rewarded.

The primary goal of CPARS is to enhance the efficacy of government spending when allocated to contractors. Contractors should view the ratings and narratives in CPARS with utmost seriousness as they directly impact future contract awards.

Moreover, if you have had prior engagements with the government, CPARS ratings can also serve as evidence of your past performance in GSA Schedule proposals, provided you have three or more ratings. This becomes particularly crucial as we approach government Q4 in a few months, where an increase in solicitations requiring past performance is anticipated.

Also read: How to Market Your GSA Schedule?

What are the key advantages of CPARS?

  • Competitive Advantage:

In the fiercely competitive landscape of government contracting, a stellar CPARS rating can be a game-changer for contractors. When two companies vie for a contract, the one with consistently outstanding CPARS ratings stands a far better chance of clinching the deal. A positive track record, as evidenced by CPARS, serves as a significant competitive differentiator.

  • Accountability and Improvement:

CPARS holds contractors to a high standard of accountability for their performance. The detailed feedback it provides offers valuable insights into areas of strength and those requiring improvement. Through continuous monitoring and assessment, contractors are incentivized to enhance their performance, ultimately leading to improved project outcomes.

  • Transparent Communication:

Facilitating transparent communication between government agencies and contractors, CPARS documents performance issues as they arise, establishing a clear channel of communication regarding necessary improvements. This transparency ensures alignment between both parties regarding expectations and performance metrics.

  • Risk Management:

For government agencies, comprehending a contractor's past performance aids in risk management. A contractor with a history of project delays, budget overruns, or significant issues may signal potential future risks. CPARS serves as a vital tool enabling agencies to make informed decisions aimed at mitigating risks associated with subpar contractor performance.

  • Encouraging Best Practices:

A continuous assessment system like CPARS fosters industry-wide improvements over time. As contractors strive to attain favorable ratings, they are inclined to adopt best practices and innovate within their respective domains. This not only enhances individual projects but also elevates industry standards as a whole.

  • Building Long-term Relationships:

Government agencies prefer forging partnerships with contractors they can rely on. Consistently positive CPARS ratings pave the way for enduring relationships between agencies and contractors, leading to an increase in opportunities for the latter. For contractors, this translates into stable revenue streams and sustainable growth.

Which contracts are subject to CPARS ratings? 

Under FAR 42.1502, several contractors undergo CPARS evaluations if:

  • Their contract surpasses the Simplified Acquisition Threshold (SAT) of $250,000 (excluding architect-engineer contracts), including both single-agency and multiple-agency contracts.
  • They hold an architect-engineer contract valued at $35,000 or more.
  • Their architect-engineer contract was terminated for default, irrespective of the contract value.
  • They hold a construction contract exceeding $750,000.
  • They are supplying critical supplies and services under the SAT, with the government having the discretion to evaluate their performance for certain critical contracts on a case-by-case basis.

It's crucial to note that only the prime contractor's performance is evaluated through CPARS. While the prime contractor maintains privity between their company and subcontractors, separate evaluations cannot be incorporated into CPARS ratings. However, subcontractors' contributions can be acknowledged in prime evaluations through their Unique Entity Identifier (UEI).

Also check: Strategies for Maximizing GSA Schedule Opportunities

Understanding CPARS Ratings

The CPARS (Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System) ratings serve as a crucial metric for assessing contractor performance throughout the duration of a government contract. These evaluations are conducted annually during the contract term and upon its completion.

For instance, in a 5-year contract scenario, interim reports are issued for each year leading up to the fourth year, culminating in a final report for the fifth year. Following contract completion, government officials may opt to produce an additional Addendum Report, addressing aspects such as contract closure and adherence to administrative requirements.

CPARS ratings are delineated as follows:

  • Exceptional: Performance not only meets but exceeds contractual requirements, significantly benefiting the Government. Any identified issues were swiftly and effectively addressed. To warrant an exceptional rating, multiple significant events must be highlighted, showcasing their substantial benefits to the Government. In some instances, even a single notable benefit may suffice if no weaknesses are identified.
  • Very Good: Performance meets all contractual requirements and surpasses expectations in certain areas, leading to benefits for the Government. Any minor issues encountered were promptly rectified. To justify a very good rating, a significant event demonstrating its direct benefit to the Government must be identified and explained. No significant weaknesses are present.
  • Satisfactory: Performance meets all contractual requirements, with any minor issues satisfactorily resolved. Even major problems, if encountered, were effectively corrected without adversely impacting the contract. No significant weaknesses are evident. Note that performing beyond contract requirements automatically warrants a satisfactory rating.
  • Marginal: Performance falls short in meeting some contractual requirements, with serious issues observed in the evaluated elements or sub-elements. Proposed corrective actions may be marginally effective or inadequately implemented. Justification for a marginal rating necessitates identifying significant events in each problematic category and providing supporting references to highlight the challenges faced by the contractor.
  • Unsatisfactory: Performance fails to meet contractual requirements, with little prospect of recovery. Serious issues persist in contractual performance, and efforts to rectify them prove ineffective. Justification for an unsatisfactory rating requires identifying multiple significant events that illustrate the contractor's struggle to overcome challenges and how these issues detrimentally impact the contract. References to relevant notices or actions taken are essential.

The use of plus or minus signs may denote an improving or declining trend if the evaluation status remains consistent between reports.

CPARS Rating Process

Upon completion of an evaluation, government officials electronically submit it via CPARS.gov. Contractors receive notifications through the CPARS system, prompting them to review and respond within 14 days. Any discrepancies in ratings can be escalated for review by higher-level officials.

The CPARS evaluation process unfolds in six stages:

  • Contract Registration: Basic contract/order details are entered.
  • Enter Proposed Ratings: Assessing officials assign ratings and provide detailed performance narratives.
  • Validate Proposed Ratings: Assessing officials review and confirm the accuracy and completeness of the proposed ratings and narratives.
  • Contractor Comments: Contractors offer their comments and express disagreement, if any, with the evaluation.
  • Review Contractor Comments: Assessing officials consider contractor feedback, adjust ratings if necessary, and finalize the evaluation.
  • Reviewing Official Comments: If needed, reviewing officials provide additional input, especially if the contractor disputes the original evaluation.

Ratings become available for source selection within 14 days of release on CPARS. Any outstanding contractor comments undergo review and updates as warranted.

Also read : How To Get an SBA 8(a) Certification for a Small Business

When are CPARS Required?

CPARS evaluations are mandated at both interim and final stages. According to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), annual performance evaluations are obligatory for all contracts and orders across all business sectors, meeting specified thresholds. These evaluations are considered interim assessments. For contracts spanning a longer duration, the evaluation must encompass at least the initial 180 days of performance up to 465 days.

Contracts lasting less than 365 days necessitate the preparation of a final report. Interim evaluations focus solely on contractor performance subsequent to the preceding evaluation, while final evaluations should be concluded upon the fulfillment or delivery of the final contractual milestone or item.

Addendum evaluations may be conducted subsequent to the "final" past performance evaluation to document the contractor's performance concerning contract closeout, among other aspects.

Confidential Information

CPARS information is consistently treated as source selection material and is safeguarded accordingly. Disclosure of CPARS data is strictly prohibited. Access to the evaluation is exclusively granted to the contractor. As privileged source selection information, it is not subject to release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).


In the intricate landscape of government contracting, CPARS stands as a critical component that can make or break a contractor's success. CPARS, or Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System, serves as a comprehensive evaluation tool used by federal agencies to assess contractor performance. Understanding CPARS is paramount for contractors aiming to thrive in the government marketplace. It influences future contract awards, impacts reputations, and shapes business opportunities. With its profound

 significance, grasping the intricacies of CPARS becomes indispensable for contractors seeking sustainable growth and success. Discover why CPARS matters and delve into its nuances with Advance GSA, your trusted GSA consultant, guiding you through the complexities of government procurement.


In conclusion, understanding CPARS is crucial for navigating the intricate landscape of government contracting. CPARS serves as a vital tool for both contractors and government agencies, offering insights into performance, accountability, and risk management. 

Contractors with exceptional CPARS ratings stand to gain a competitive edge, while agencies benefit from improved transparency and informed decision-making. By prioritizing excellence in performance and actively engaging with the CPARS process, contractors can not only secure lucrative contracts but also foster long-term relationships with government agencies. 

So, in essence, CPARS isn't just a regulatory requirement; it's a pathway to success in the dynamic realm of government contracting, shaping the future of partnerships between contractors and agencies alike.

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