The Performance Work Statement (PWS) is a Statement of Work (SOW) for Performance-Based Acquisitions that clearly describes the performance objectives and standards that are expected of the contractor. When a contract is awarded, the PWS is legally binding upon the contractor and the U.S. Government. There is no standard template or outline for a PWS.
Template: Performance Work Statement (PWS)
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) only requires that agencies, to the maximum extent practicable:
- Describe work in terms of required results rather than “how” the work is to be accomplished or the number of hours to be provided
- Enable assessment of work performance against measurable performance standards
- Rely on measurable performance standards and financial incentives in a competitive environment to encourage innovation and cost effective methods of performing the work
- Background information
- Performance Objectives and Standards
- Applicable documents
- Special Requirements/Constraints (such as security)
The PWS should state requirements in general terms of what (result) is to be done, rather than how (method) it is done. The PWS gives the contractor maximum flexibility to devise the best method to accomplish the required result. The PWS must be written to ensure that all offerors compete equally. The U.S. Government must remove any features that could restrict a potential offeror. However, the PWS must also be descriptive and specific enough to protect the interests of the U.S. Government and to promote competition. The clarity and explicitness of the requirements in the PWS will invariably enhance the quality of the proposals submitted. A definitive PWS is likely to produce definitive proposals, thus reducing the time needed for proposal evaluation.
Preparing a PWS begins with an analytical process, often referred to as a “job analysis.” It involves a close examination of the agency’s requirements and tends to be a “bottom up” assessment with “re-engineering” potential. This analysis is the basis for establishing performance requirements, developing performance standards, writing the performance work statement, and producing the quality assurance plan. Those responsible for the mission or program are essential to the performance of the job analysis. 
Statement of Objective (SOO)
The SOO is a Government prepared document that provides the basic, high-level objectives of the acquisition. It is provided in the solicitation in lieu of a government written Performance Work Statement. In this approach, the contractors’ proposals contain their statements of work and performance metrics and measures (which are based on their proposed solutions). The use of a SOO opens the acquisition up to a wider range of potential solutions.
AcqLinks and References:
- Defense Acquisition Guidebook (DAG)
- Performance Work Statement Template
- Developing a Performance Work Statement Handbook – Sept 2009
- Presentation: How To Write a PWS Training