Evaluating Subcontractor Past Performance, past performance evaluation, GAO Bid Protest

When agencies evaluate your subcontractor proposal’s past performance, it must properly consider the Subcontractor Past Performance of your named teaming partners or subcontractors. 

The government uses subcontractor performance evaluation critieria to establish a level of confidence when determining the best value. The government will look at the offeror’s success on performing recent and relevant contracts to gauge the risk of performing on the instant contract. When challenging unfavorable ratings in a bid protest, you must be well aware of the latitude given the government contracting agencies.

Federal Acquisition Regulation, FAR 15.305(a)(2)(iii) states that a past performance evaluation criteria should take into account past performance information regarding predecessor companies, key personnel who have relevant experience, or subcontractors that will perform major or critical aspects of the requirement when such information is relevant to the instant acquisition.

To get favorable consideration with your subcontractor performance evaluation, your proposal should articulate not only the name of the subcontractor or teaming partner but also show what critical aspects of the project the subcontractor will be doing.

  • Information on a company’s past performance is provided to external parties by the government only upon a valid FOIA request or some other approved method.
  • Information on a company’s past performance is not public information.

GAO Protests & View on FAR Subcontractor Past Performance Evaluation Criteria

GAO has previously found that evaluating subcontractor performance evaluation  criteria of a proposed government subcontractor may be considered in determining whether an offeror meets the experience or FAR past performance evaluation requirements in a solicitation where the solicitation does not expressly prohibit its consideration. See The Paintworks, Inc., B‑292982; B‑292982.2, Dec. 23, 2003, 2003 CPD para. 234 at 3.

Tip: Many government solicitations now provide that subcontractor past performance evaluation for source selections would be “given weight relative to the amount of effort under the solicitation that the subcontractor is proposed to perform.”

This is important language because it puts the burden on you the bidder to tell the government what percentage or level of effort the subcontractor will perform. Note, that you should consider breaking down the level of effort by each section in the statement of work.  See also information about challenging CPARS past performance.

  • Always read the solicitation before submitting subcontractor past performance.
  • Articulate in your proposal what contribution the subcontractor will make to the project.
  • This is important because it helps the agency to best utilize its consideration for the subcontractor evaluation criteria

Agency defense to not conducting subcontractor past performance evaluation criteria for source selections: Federal contracting agencies will try to argue in a GAO bid protest that it never stated in the RFP that the past performance of other than the offeror would be considered, or that the RFP did not specifically request that the offerors submit past performance information for proposed major subcontractors. See information on PPIRS reporting and CPARs ratings.

However, FAR 15.305(a)(2)(iii) suggests, as evidenced by the word should, that agencies consider in their evaluations the past performance of proposed subcontractors that will perform major or critical aspects of the requirement. Unless the RFP expressly excludes subcontractor past performance evaluations, GAO may tend to rule in favor of a protestor. See AC Techs., Inc., B‑293013, B‑293013.2, Jan. 14, 2004, 2004 CPD para. 26 at 3. 

  • Always make sure that subcontractor past performance referenced projects are relevant in size, scope and complexity. Otherwise, the past performance evaluation may be a non-issue in a bid protest.

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For help in a bid protest about your subcontractor evaluation criteria, call our bid protest lawyers at 1-866-601-5518.

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