Selecting the best partners: Key evaluation criteria for government agencies

For government agencies, choosing the right partner is critical to ensuring successful outcomes and efficient, responsible use of taxpayer dollars.

To aid in this process, agencies should focus on specific evaluation criteria that can help identify the partner who is the most qualified and capable for the job. This blog post identifies key factors agencies should consider during the evaluation process and how to set that partner up for success immediately following the contract award.

Measurable past performance

A company’s past performance is one of the most reliable indicators of future success. While agencies can use the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) to see a company’s rating and gauge its performance, looking deeper into its past work is just as important.

Government agencies should thoroughly evaluate a company’s track record of delivering projects of similar size and complexity on time, completing the work within budget, and delivering products that meet the needs of actual users. Agencies should also strongly consider requiring the submission of publicly available code or other artifacts as part of the past performance submitted by vendors. Open code repositories, design systems, and public-facing digital artifacts can provide tangible proof of the efficacy and usefulness of the products a company can build for government customers — more on this in the section below.

Measurable past performance allows agencies to assess a company’s reliability, capabilities, and overall suitability for the work. By examining past performance, agencies can make informed decisions about whether or not a company can meet their needs. A few past performance metrics to focus on include:

  • Completion rates: Demonstrate the company’s track record of delivering on its commitments
  • Adherence to regulatory requirements and laws: Demonstrate the company’s commitment to ethical, responsible operations and designing with an accessibility-first mindset from the beginning
  • Delivering reliable and complete software: Demonstrate that the company can produce software products that meet both organizational goals and user needs without the need for reengineering or rework by other vendors

Code and artifact review requirements

Technology is critical to agencies’ internal operations and the products and services they provide to the public. As such, it’s essential to review your potential partner’s publicly available code repositories and artifacts since these are often representative of live products currently in use.

To do this, you should have a technical evaluation panel of experts who can analyze the company’s software development process and associated artifacts to determine if the quality of their work meets your standards. This can include reviewing their:

  • Functional testing practices and documentation quality
  • Performance testing and optimization techniques
  • User experience design approaches, style guides, and design system components
  • Continuous integration and deployment pipeline strategy
  • Compliance with regulatory requirements, including secure software development, open source software usage, vendor and third-party integration strategies, and mechanisms for feedback and continuous improvement

Reviewing the comprehensiveness and maturity of these processes and artifacts can help demonstrate how well (or not) the company followed its quality standards and how those standards compare to your expectations.

Additionally, this review can lessen the risk of security breaches, system failures, and other potential issues that could arise during the project and after work is completed. Verifying the integrity, efficiency, and maintainability of the company’s deliverables can ultimately contribute to the program’s long-term success.

Measuring staffing and hiring competency

Other key areas to evaluate to determine if a vendor is your ideal partner are the competency, expertise, and collaborative abilities of the people who would be working with you. These people will play a pivotal role in your project’s success, and not reviewing these critical details could lead to issues throughout the project lifecycle.

Government agencies should also review potential partner companies based on their staffing capabilities. Agencies should carefully consider how a company has organized its delivery structure in alignment with the statement of work (SOW):

  • How are the teams structured? Do they have the technical leadership and support necessary for thriving, highly productive teams?
  • Have they appropriately staffed with the right mix of capabilities and expertise?
  • Have they leveled the staff appropriately (e.g., are they providing senior, experienced personnel where needed)?
  • Have they organized their staff into appropriately sized scrum teams with the cross-functional expertise needed to do the work effectively?

This level of care put into building a staffing solution at the proposal stage is a key indicator of eventual program success.

Agencies should also assess the company’s recruitment and retention practices, training programs, and ongoing professional development opportunities they offer their team. A highly skilled and knowledgeable team is crucial to overcoming challenges, adapting to changing requirements, and delivering high-quality results without interruption. Companies drawing from the same pool of DC-based technologists may be limited in bringing new and needed skills to your program.

By evaluating the quality of a company’s team members and its staffing capabilities, agencies can make educated decisions that can lead to successful outcomes.

Allowing time for hiring and preparation

Once an agency has selected the appropriate partner to support their work and has awarded the contract, the new partner may need sufficient time to hire staff and prepare for the work. You can hire a top-notch company, but if you rush them into the project without providing the time they’ll need to ensure the appropriate experts are prepared, you may risk the project’s success.

Instead, allow the partner time to assemble the right team with the skills and support needed for your project. This investment can significantly contribute to the overall success of the work by ensuring that they’re well-equipped to meet your program’s requirements from start to finish.

Remote-first companies like Ad Hoc can hire from a much larger national talent pool than those restricted to local candidates. This allows us to tap into a broader range of experts, and our hiring process may require less time to assemble the best team. Either way, you must offer the partner you hire sufficient time to build the best team to help you achieve your desired outcomes.

Ad Hoc: Your partner for success

Choosing the right partner for government projects requires carefully evaluating various standards. By prioritizing the criteria listed above and allowing time for post-contract award hiring and preparation, government agencies can increase the likelihood of successful program outcomes and maximize value for the people using their products.

At Ad Hoc, we understand the importance of these criteria. We’re committed to excellence and helping our customers achieve their missions. We have a proven track record of delivering results that meet agencies’ needs and produce exceptional products for the public. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can partner with you to deliver exceptional digital experiences for the public, reach us at