In the past, project references were static summaries that were often kept as a collection of re-use files. With the advent of past performance evaluations, this way of keeping project information may no longer meet all of your needs.
A collection of static files may not provide what you need to know about a project to get the best possible past performance evaluation. For a successful past performance evaluation you need a current contact at the customer that will speak well of your performance. If nobody answers when the evaluator calls, you will get a neutral rating (5 out of 10) and that can ruin your overall score. If the person that answers does not know you, or worse, speaks poorly of you, your score will be even worse.
With a collection of static files, the only way you have to anticipate your past performance evaluation is the input of the project manager. It runs against human nature to advertise your mistakes and poor performance. Also, people have limited, biased, and sometimes selective memories. A better source for project performance information is the status reports that almost every project manager is tasked to provide.
A past performance record keeping system links the static project summary with these reports to provide a project history. This history can be reviewed prior to submitting a proposal that includes the project to identify weaknesses that should be proactively responded to in your proposal.
A past performance record keeping system takes a much larger level of effort to set up than a static project summary system. A record keeping system also presumes access to the records, which may require changes to internal project management procedures — something that may be beyond the reach of a proposal manager and will usually require executive level decisions. With past performance counting for as much as 50% of your evaluation score, there is significant reason to consider taking on the larger effort.