Great article, just a couple of thoughts:
As noted in the article – “The PRA imposes a requirement on Federal agencies to obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget before collecting information from 10 or more members of the public.” While it is certainly possible that a solicitation could call for past performance questionnaires from 10 or more references, I would argue that this would be an exception to the norm. More often than not, our solicitations (based completely on personal experience) do not ask for information from this many third-party sources – therefore, it seems that the PRA would be N/A.
The Office of Management and Budget has published policy for the “Best Practices for Collecting and Using Current and Past Performance Information” – see http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/best_practice_re_past_perf. Interestingly enough this policy document makes no reference to obtaining an OMB Control Number. In fact, the OMB document notes the following under “Section L, Instructions to Offerors”:
“Ask Offerors for a list of references for on-going contracts or contracts completed not more than 3 years ago that demonstrates performance relevant to the solicitation performance requirements. Keep the number of references requested to as few as possible to give an accurate reflection of past performance. We recommend 5 to 10 references as the norm, with more than 15 to be a seldom occurrence.”
What I take from this paragraph is the fact that OMB uses the words “ask” and “requested” when referring to the collection of past performance, which seemingly suggests the PRA not applicable since the Act applies when requiring an offeror to solicit a third party to complete a past performance questionnaire – 44 U.S.C. 3502(3)“the term ‘collection of information’ – (A) means the obtaining, causing to be obtained, soliciting, or requiring the disclosure to third parties or the public, of facts or opinions by or for an agency, regardless of form or format…”
The article only lends to the importance of well-documented past performance reports. Having access to detailed reports through PPIRS - rather than the generic ‘performs as required’ statements that we often see, will negate the need to obtain - or have an offeror obtain, past performance information from third parties.