Important Update on Small Business Subcontractor Past Performance

by Barbara Kinosky, Managing Partner

  • Centre Staff

The Small Business Administration (SBA) just implemented a new rule that establishes a process for small businesses to obtain past performance from their prime contractors.   This is an important step in the right direction of assisting first tier small business subcontractors in obtaining meaningful past performance evaluations for future bids.  The new rule covers both Joint Ventures (JV’s) and prime subcontractor relationships.    

It only applies to first-tier subcontractors under prime contracts with subcontracting plants.  And the most important part is that it puts first tier subcontractor past performance on a prime contract with a subcontracting plan equal to prime contractor past performance for purposes of past performance proposal evaluations.  

Quick Read Summary: 

Joint Venture Past Performance 

  • A small business that has been part of a JV can use the experience and past performance of the JV 
  • The small business must identify the JV and explain what duties and responsibilities it carried out under the JV 

First Tier Subcontractor Past Performance 

  • Small businesses can request and prime contractors must provide past performance ratings for that subcontractor within 15 calendar days of the request 
  • The request must be made by the subcontractor within 30 days of the end of the performance period 

Past Performance Format 

  • At least what is in the CPARS ratings system, but the evaluation will not be posted in CPARS 

No Distinction Between Prime and Subcontractor Past Performance 

You heard that correctly. Subcontractors will now get an important equalization factor since the source selection team cannot discriminate between prime and first-tier subcontractor past performance.   


You know it.  A failure by a prime contractor to provide a requested past performance evaluation could result in contract termination, liquidated damages, and lower past performance ratings for the prime.  Subcontractors can also directly go to the contracting officer on this issue.