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The Power of a Performance Requirements Summary for Acquisition Success

GovLoop and Integrity Management Consulting are proud to present a 12-part series called “Conscientious Contracting: A Thoughtful Approach to Acquisition and Program Management,” that aims to address common challenges and achieve new efficiencies in government procurement.

In our resource guide titled, “Addressing the Complex Challenges Facing Today’s Acquisition Professional,” one of the critical success factors we cite for the planning phase is “plan to measure.” Here’s a short excerpt from the guide:

Most acquisition professionals understand that defining requirements is one of the most important facets of an acquisition, but the part that often gets missed from the very outset of many contract processes is planning to measure. “Whether it’s a helicopter program, weapons system, or an IT system and you want 95% availability rate, you have to plan measurement

into your requirement – tools, data, software, etc.,” said John Coombs, who spent 22 years in the United States Army and performed procurement support in 19 countries.

Agencies need to ask:

  • How are we going to measure the outcomes?
  • What are the acceptable quality levels that must be met?
  • Who is going to check the measurements?
  • Where and how will we obtain the data?
  • How will we measure the success of our program?

“You’ve got to identify the data that you need to see how the program is performing effectively,” said Coombs, now a Senior Fellow at Integrity Management Consulting.

One of the most effective tools for systematizing this process of both defining and measuring your program’s outputs and outcomes is a performance requirements summary. Typically, a performance requirements summary will include:

  • the task, service or requirement being measured,
  • a number or some form of identification, often mapping back to the performance work statement, including the specific paragraph in the PWS
  • a performance indicator or quality standard
  • a target date for completion and/or review
  • the acceptable quality level – the more quantitative, the better as there are often trade-offs between the standard, the acceptable quality level and the incentive (if used)
  • a surveillance method
  • an incentive for achieving or exceeding the quality standards, which is often optional and typically used for exceeding the quality standards

In case you haven’t seen one before, I wanted to share a sample performance requirements summary matrix that is used by the Department of Veterans Affairs as part of its Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP) below:

Task

ID

Indicator

Standard

Acceptable Quality Level

Method of Surveillance

Incentive

Clinical Information Return

1

Routine care and routine diagnostic testing: clinical information provided back to the authorizing VA medical center.

Within 30 days of the episode of care or prior to referral for further consultation.

100%

Observation and random inspection (auditing) or any other method that was proposed in your solution.

Exercise of Option Period and past performance and/or any other incentive that was proposed in your solution.

2

Inpatient care: clinical information provided back to the authorizing VA medical center.

Within 30 days of patient discharge or prior to referral for further consultation back to the referring VA medical center.

100%

Observation and random inspection (auditing) or any other method that was proposed in your solution.

Exercise of Option Period and past performance and/or any other incentive that was proposed in your solution.

3

Urgent outpatient care: clinical information provided back to the authorizing VA medical center.

Within 48 hours or prior to the need for further medical referral by the authorizing VA medical center.

100%

Observation and random inspection (auditing) or any other method that was proposed in your solution.

Exercise of Option Period and past performance and/or any other incentive that was proposed in your solution.

The performance requirements summary should set the baseline for desired program /contract outputs and outcomes. In turn, the QASP is an effective tool for capturing, tracking and reporting progress. Comprehensive plans will include the names, titles and contact information for the Integrated Product Team (IPT) members and their individual roles and responsibilities on the program or acquisition. Moreover, the matrix itself may include a column with the names of the IPT members that are directly responsible for accomplishing each task – holding them accountable and making it easier to inquire about the status of a given requirement.

In addition, the matrix itself is merely a summary of the overall plan, so additional documentation may be required to define the indicators, quality standards, acceptable quality levels, surveillance methods and incentives in greater detail.

If you’d like to incorporate a performance requirements summary in your next acquisition, I have compiled five templates for your review and adaptation below:

Do you use a performance requirements summary in your acquisition efforts? If so, can you share how it’s helped to improve your acquisition lifecycle?


This blog was brought to you by Integrity Management Consulting, an award-winning small business and leading provider of major systems acquisition and program management support services to Federal customers. Integrity’s mission is to deliver exceptional results for government customers, employees, and the community, driven by a single value: Integrity.

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Another awesome resource by GovLoop — and required reading for those who are, or aspire to be, part of the federal contracting community.

The procurement process is a byzantine maze for many folks. This guide will help a lot.

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