Insights from a Decade of CPARS Data at TCG

By Lisa Alferieff, TCG COO

Companies that contract with the Federal government know that positive Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) ratings are gold and serve as a report card, of sorts, to help the government with future source selection. The government doesn’t grade easy, and it shouldn’t, given that its purpose is to use taxpayers’ money to ensure national security, protect individual freedoms, provide public services, uphold the rule of law, and promote general welfare and economic stability. It’s critical that only top-notch companies in the private sector partner with the government in pursuit of this mission.

As the Chief Operating Officer of a growing technology company serving civilian Federal agencies, I am ultimately responsible for high quality performance, customer satisfaction, and ensuring that our delivery approach scales as the company grows. I take this responsibility seriously and hold myself accountable when things do not go to plan. We have weathered a lot during my 10-year tenure, including numerous government shutdowns, several Presidential transitions, a global pandemic, and cultural shifts in how and why people work. 

I recently set out to analyze our CPARS ratings to see how  we navigated these dynamics, adapted our strategies, particularly as we graduated out of small business set-aside status in recent years. 

The data.
In a CPARS report, a government contracting officer rates a company on the following at the conclusion of each period of performance of a contract:

  • Conformance to requirements and to standards of good workmanship;
  • Forecasting and controlling costs;
  • Adherence to schedules, including the administrative aspects of performance;
  • Reasonable and cooperative behavior and commitment to customer satisfaction;
  • Compliance with the requirements of the small business subcontracting plan;
  • Integrity and business ethics; and
  • Business-like concern for the interest of the customer.

A draft report is submitted to the company for their review and comment before it is finalized and published to a centralized database. This past performance data is considered Source Selection Sensitive and is only available to select government officials responsible for procurement activities. As such, I will not be sharing any raw CPARS data nor the names of the agencies who have assessed TCG.

The approach.
To begin my analysis, I reviewed the government’s definition of the CPARS rating scale — Exceptional to Unsatisfactory — and mapped the scale to a well known rating system, the Grade Point Average (GPA) Scale, to enable quantitative analysis:

CPARS Rating  Rating Definition GPA Scale
Exceptional Performance meets contractual requirements and exceeds many to the Government’s benefit. The contractual performance of the element or sub-element being evaluated was accomplished with few minor problems for which corrective actions taken by the contractor were highly effective. 4
Very Good Performance meets contractual requirements and exceeds some to the Government’s benefit. The contractual performance of the element or sub-element being evaluated was accomplished with some minor problems for which corrective actions taken by the contractor were effective. 4
Satisfactory Performance meets contractual requirements. The contractual performance of the element or sub-element contains some minor problems for which corrective actions taken by the contractor appear or were satisfactory. 3
Marginal Performance does not meet some contractual requirements. The contractual performance of the element or sub-element being evaluated reflects a serious problem for which the contractor has not yet identified corrective actions. The contractor’s proposed actions appear only marginally effective or were not fully implemented. 2
Unsatisfactory Performance does not meet most contractual requirements and recovery is not likely in a timely manner. The contractual performance of the element or sub-element contains a serious problem(s) for which the contractor’s corrective actions appear or were ineffective. 1


The GPA scale is defined as:

  • Excels or above grade level (4)
  • Proficient or at grade level (3)
  • Approaching proficiency or approaching grade level (2)
  • Well below proficiency or below grade level (1)

The government is less consistent about providing ratings on two factors (Utilization of Small Business and Regulatory Compliance) of small to mid-sized technology companies, so I focused my attention on the four CPARS criteria that are consistently rated: 

    • Quality: Conformance to contract requirements, specifications and standards of good workmanship (e.g., commonly accepted technical, professional, environmental, or safety and health standards)
    • Schedule: Timeliness against the completion of the contract, task orders, milestones, delivery schedules, and administrative requirements (e.g., efforts that contribute to or affect the schedule variance)
    • Cost Control: Effectiveness in forecasting, managing, and controlling contract cost. 
    • Management: Performance in selecting, retaining, supporting, and replacing, when necessary, key personnel.

The analysis.
Using this approach, TCG’s delivery services report card for the past 10 years is:

TCG: 2014 — 2024
Criteria GPA
Quality 3.79
Schedule 3.74
Cost Control 3.95
Management 3.86
Overall GPA 3.84


Not bad, especially during a high growth period where we tripled in size. Most kids would be very proud to show their parents those marks.

While I was pleased to see these numbers, I decided to look back five years to see how we performed as we steadily grew while negotiating particularly disruptive predictable (government shutdowns) and unpredictable (Coronavirus pandemic) challenges.

Looking back 5 years:

TCG: 2019 — 2024
Criteria GPA
Quality 3.80
Schedule 3.79
Cost Control 4.00
Management 3.94
Overall GPA 3.88


Our scores increased across the board! This is a testament to our resilient, hard working, intelligent, and customer-focused teams. To earn scores like that during one of the most challenging periods of our collective lifetime is awe-inspiring.

Finally, I narrowed the analysis to the time period since we “graduated” from the small business set-aside status. While emerging from the pandemic, we initiated a fair amount of internal change during this time in order to prepare us for competing in the unrestricted market. We applied a “do no harm” philosophy to our change management, prioritizing our customer’s needs above our own.

Looking back 2 years, from mid 2022 to present: 

TCG: 2022 — 2024
Criteria GPA
Quality 3.89
Schedule 3.88
Cost Control 4.00
Management 4.00
Overall GPA 3.94


We went from magna cum laude to summa cum laude! In every evaluation area, we improved yet again and our overall GPA rose 2.6% from the 10-year view. 

The reflection. 

The last few years have not been easy ones. In fact, when reporting on operational challenges at an executive management meeting last year, I included this question in my presentation: “Is everyone OK out there?” It was a rhetorical, but honest, question. There have been notable shifts in the world, in our industry, and in the behaviors of clients, partners, employees, applicants, and leaders. With each challenge, we adapted, we grew, and we got better at what we do. I attribute this to being agile with our decision-making, listening to feedback from our staff, and keeping our mission at the forefront: a commitment to developing an efficient, transparent, and ethical government. It is a mission that’s easy to get behind. 

It wasn’t always roses and sunshine, but we stayed dedicated to doing the best possible job with a proper dose of humor and humility. And we’re not done yet! We have big plans and we are excited and ready for the next opportunity around the corner.