Eight Steps to Developing a Performance Work Statement
Step 1: Plan
Step 1 discusses the four primary components in developing a performance work statement (PWS) and a quality assurance surveillance plan (QASP):
Careful planning makes better use of resources, minimizes interruptions in activity performance, saves time, and obtains the service required to support the Soldiers and mission.
The acquisition team must conduct market research to understand the standard performance parameters in the local marketplace, and then work to draft a PWS that incorporates the appropriate local practices.
Forming your team
Gather the best people for the PWS writing team and obtain leadership support from the beginning. The development of a quality PWS is the result of a team effort. The members of the team are usually from the requiring activity, other units with subject matter expertise, and the local supporting contracting office. The team is typically composed of the following individuals:
(Tip: There are no absolutes in selecting PWS team members. Required skills are situational, and you should consider them within the context of the entire team.)
Most requiring activities (units) can find individuals to fill these roles, but these individuals often have other duties in a deployed environment. The leadership must make the hard decision to allocate the proper time, resources, and individuals required to develop a proper PWS.
Do not overlook the need for office space for the PWS team members. The PWS team must have secure facilities where it can store its materials and work with limited interruptions. Many times your supporting contracting office will have limited office space to offer.
Do not leave sensitive information on your desk or computer screen and do not discuss this information in common areas. Factors affecting security are the degree of sensitivity of the information; nature of the threat to the information; vulnerability of the information; options that are available for protecting the information; and organizational facilities and capabilities for secure handling, storage, and transmission. Much of your information, such as troop numbers, grid coordinates, and other related information, will be classified. Remember, the acquisition process begins at the point the unit's needs are established. All personnel should understand the adverse impact of inappropriate disclosure of sensitive information regarding future procurements. Early in the acquisition planning process and throughout the development of the government's requirements in writing the PWS, the contracting officer (KO) will advise the acquisition team of the negative consequences and prejudicial impact of improperly releasing information to potential future offerors.
Initial team meeting
The PWS team leader should receive guidance and training from the supporting contracting office.
During the initial meeting, team members should:
Go over this checklist for the team's key players
What is the milestone schedule?
Perhaps the most overlooked planning step (besides writing the PWS) is developing the milestone schedule. The milestone schedule provides overall, critical completion times for each major requirement and appropriate review and coordination (when required). Keep in mind that milestones may be changed for larger, more complex contracts (consult your supporting KO for further details).
(Tip: Early planning including the user and all acquisition team members to the maximum extent practicable is essential in determining overall success. Ultimately, the KO will decide upon the precise milestone dates; just make sure it works with the requiring activity objective.)
Step 2: Define the Requirement
Planning should start by focusing on the big picture of the acquisition. What requirement needs to be satisfied, and how will this acquisition meet the needs of the requiring activity? The requirement should also address the criticality of need. In certain contingency operations, criticality of need may supersede certain acquisition processes. See your contracting support element for clarification.
Step 3: Identify Desired Results
Results are what the acquisition is intended to accomplish. The desired results are the ideal outcomes of contract performance. Examples of desired results include a clean building, broader dissemination of information, and increased levels of maintenance. The PWS team must ask what it wants out of this acquisition and define what the tasking intends to achieve in terms of outcomes and deliverables. The answer will be specific to each acquisition, and the team should develop the answer during its work sessions. This analysis will provide the basis to develop a work breakdown structure (WBS) for formulating the PWS.
Begin by listing what the PWS should accomplish in order to satisfy the overall requirement. For example:
After the team clearly identifies the desired results, it must identify what outcome will constitute success. For example, the customer desires a clean building. A clean building is the result. Defining success means defining how the customer knows if the building is clean-the floors are mopped, the surfaces are dusted, and the carpets are vacuumed.
Keep in mind the link between level of service and cost; it is important to define the level of service required so as not to unnecessarily exceed requirements and cost. Polishing the brass doorknobs may improve the Feng Shui feeling for the commander but at what cost?
Step 4: Create a Work Breakdown Structure
Use the WBS to facilitate a logical arrangement of all elements of the work targeted in a performance-based contract. Simultaneously use the checklist provided below for the performance-based acquisition team to trace all the necessary elements of the project. Generally your WBS will only serve as an internal planning document. Do not use the WBS in your actual PWS.
Creating a WBS checklist:
Finalizing the WBS checklist:
Figure 4-1. Example of a WBS for cleaning an office building
At each level of breakdown, the parts must be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive of the next higher level. Furthermore, there must be no overlap among the parts at a particular level, and nothing must be left out.
Develop a performance standard for each item on the WBS
Ensure you develop a performance standard for each element at the lowest level of work breakdown. What you see, smell, hear, taste, or feel is the determinant of acceptability.
Once you have identified your set of performance standards, apply the SMART test by asking, are these performance measures:
Step 5: Collect and Analyze Goals or Outcomes
Most of the data should be collected during preliminary planning and available to the PWS team already. However, your data may be marginal at best. For example, the purchase request may only say "contract to clean office headquarters building number 123 on forward operating base ABC."
If your data is marginal conduct interviews to gather further details:
Manage expectations from the beginning and ensure the requiring activity approves the initial concept before you start writing the PWS.
(Tip: The PWS is your roadmap for the contractor engagement. Ensure it accurately reflects the specific tasks and obligations during the course of performance. Most contractual problems are directly attributable to the lack of a properly written PWS.)
Step 6: Write the PWS
Once you have completed the tree diagramming, data collection, and performance standards, write the PWS.
(Tip: Begin writing the PWS at the same time you begin collecting and analyzing data. Most PWS sections are boilerplate (see your KO for this information). PWS teams save time by beginning to write sections that are ready while they finish data collection and analysis on other sections.)
To ensure you write a good PWS, coordinate comments from the requiring activity before you give the final PWS to the supporting contracting office for execution. In some situations your draft PWS will be submitted with the requirements document to the acquisition review board for review and approval prior to submitting it to your supporting contracting office. In any case, ensure your supporting contracting office is part of your PWS team.
Delegating Checklist on Developing Sections of a Performance Work Statement
The PWS Format
Write the PWS in service contract format. First, develop an outline to provide structure for the document. The following is a sample outline. The PWS falls in Section C of the RFP. The standard numbering scheme for service contracts is legal numeric (for example: 1, 1.1, 1.2, . . .). See PWS examples in Appendices A, B, and C for the legal-numeric formatting.
Section 1: General
This section includes a broad overview of the PWS and a description of the scope of work.
Section 2: Definitions
This section includes terms and phrases readers need to know to understand the PWS.
Section 3: Government-furnished property and services
This section references applicable exhibits and specific terms and conditions not covered in the Federal Acquisition Regulation clauses.
Section 4: Contractor-furnished items
This section holds the contractor accountable for all items he must provide to perform the services. This section may include specific standards for items.
Section 5: Requirements
This section is the heart of the PWS. Most of the analysis of activities will be in this section.
Section 6: Publications and forms
This section references exhibits that list the documents and forms the contractor needs to perform the work.
Some items are too bulky to include in the main body of the PWS (for example, spreadsheets with workload data). Also, you may want to include information helpful to the potential contractor. Use technical exhibits for this purpose.
After you have developed the outline, focus writing the most important section-C-5: Requirements-first.
Step 7: Write the QASP
The QASP defines the process the government uses to evaluate the contractor's execution of the PWS.
The QASP explains the following:
This QASP does not detail how the contractor accomplishes the work. Instead, the QASP is created on the premise the contractor is responsible for management and quality control actions to meet the terms of the contract. It is the government's responsibility to be objective, fair, and consistent in evaluating performance. In addition, the QASP should recognize that unforeseen and uncontrollable situations, such as acts of God (bad weather or earthquakes) or situations resulting from a combat environment, may occur.
The QASP is a living document, and the KO may review and revise it on a regular basis. However, the KO shall coordinate changes with the contractor. Updates must ensure the QASP remains a valid, useful, and enforceable document. The contractor and the CORs implementing the surveillance activities must receive copies of the original QASP and any subsequent revisions.
Methods of surveillance
After contract award, the COR should review the performance standards in the contract to determine if the selected monitoring methods are appropriate to monitor each performance standard. Within a QASP, multiple surveillance methods may be used.
Various methods exist to monitor performance. The COR will use one or more of the surveillance methods listed below. However, regardless of the surveillance method, the COR must always contact the KO when a defect is identified and inform him of the specifics of the problem.
Contractor performance must be monitored in some fashion to determine the rate of success. As much as possible, human biases should be eliminated from the surveillance process. The objective is to assess the contractor's performance against established performance standards. The following procedures are the most common methods of surveillance:
Surveillance results may be used as the basis for actions (to include payment deductions) against the contractor. In such cases, the inspection of services clause in the contract becomes the basis for the KO's actions.
When unacceptable performance occurs, the COR must inform the contractor in writing unless circumstances necessitate verbal communication. In any case, the COR must document the discussion and place it in the COR's file.
When the COR determines formal written communication is required, the COR prepares a contract discrepancy report (CDR) and presents it to the contractor. A CDR template should be part of the QASP.
The contractor must acknowledge receipt of the CDR in writing. The CDR will specify if the contractor is required to prepare a corrective action plan to document how the contractor shall correct the unacceptable performance and avoid a recurrence. The CDR also will state how long after receipt the contractor has to present this corrective action plan to the COR. The KO shall review the contractor's corrective action plan to determine acceptability.
Any CDR may become a part of the supporting documentation for contract payment deductions, fixed fee deductions, award fee nonpayment, or other actions deemed necessary by the KO.
During contract and order performance, the COR shall take the periodic measurements that the QASP specifies. It may help if the government prepares a work sheet with a schedule for executing the surveillance measures listed in the QASP. This work sheet shall be for government use and shall not be shared with the contractor.
Step 8: Finalize the Performance Work Statement
(Tip: To encourage stakeholder review and comment, the PWS team should e-mail the PWS to all stakeholders. )
Performance Work Statement Checklist
Actions for final review:
You can now forward the PWS to your supporting KO for final review.
Sections B, L, and M
Although the KO is responsible for Sections B, L, and M of the solicitation, the PWS team should provide input.
Section B (cost/price schedule)
The PWS team may help develop contract line item numbers or recommend variance ranges.
Section L (instructions to offerors)
Because the PWS team writes the content for technical evaluation, its members understand how proposals will be evaluated. Their input into how offerors should organize proposals is very important.
Section M (evaluation criteria)
The criteria, subfactors, and ranking all naturally flow from the PWS and development of instructions to offerors. The PWS team's input on this section is also very important.
Watch out for scope creep. It occurs when the requiring activity changes its mind midway through PWS development. Unfortunately, it is common when there is a failure in managing expectations from everyone's input at the beginning of PWS development. When you ensure you clearly understand and manage expectations early, you should not have this problem.
If scope creep happens, you can manage it with changes to clauses. In fixed-price supply contracts, the changes clause provides that the CO may at any time, by written order, make changes, within the general scope of the contract. The key words are "within the general scope of the contract." When a contractor receives a change order, the contractor typically has 30 days to submit a proposal for adjustment. The term "equitable adjustment" is the name for the process by which contractors recover the reasonable value for the work under which no agreement was reached on the fixed-price contract. The bottom line-stay away from scope creep, if possible.
A cardinal change is a unique subset of changes to the initial contract, a modification beyond the original scope of the contract, which requires the contractor to perform duties materially different from those originally bargained. Cardinal change is a breach of contract entitling the contractor to damages. Cardinal changes are considered potential attempts at unauthorized procurement. In other words, someone is overstepping the contract's legal bounds by attempting to derive extra benefits from the contractor.
Finally, a constructive change is an oral or written act or omission by the KO or other authorized government official that is construed as having the same effect as a written change order. A constructive change consists of two elements: (1) a change element that calls for examination of the actual performance to determine whether it went beyond the minimum standards demanded by the contract, and (2) an order element in which the government's representative (by word or deed) requires the contractor to perform work that is not a necessary part of the contract.
Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012