Gain Insight and Avoid Costly Mistakes When Challenging Past Performance Evaluation Scores

When agencies evaluate technical proposals, the RFP may state that award would be made on a best-value basis, considering past performance evaluation as one of the weighted evaluation factors.Past Performance Evaluation Scores Issues In GAO Protests Challenging past performance evaluation scores must be fact specific. Government contractors often make the argument that the agency should have given a higher evaluation score.  

  • This argument with nothing else fails every time.
  • Protestors must identify specific facts where the agency failed to follow the solicitation requirements.

Use of past performance questionnaires. A substantial amount of federal solicitations now depends on past performance evaluation questionnaires as part of the evaluation criteria. a question arises as to how the agency evaluates the questionnaire when reference sends it back.

  • Ignoring important facts in the questionnaire could be grounds for protesting simply because such information could be essential to any risk of performance.
  • In a negotiated procurement, when agencies apply a pass-fail approach to past performance evaluation criteria, this could be a problem (unless the RFP stated that this would happen). 
  • Follow up with your references to make sure that they have returned your past performance questionnaire to the agency.

A common agency mistake when receiving questionnaires is to not consider the scope of work discussed. Instead, the source selection team may just analyze the comments. A negotiated procurement anticipates past performance evaluation criteria for source selections to be on a qualitative basis that considers the relative merits of the firms’ past performance in terms of relevance, scope and complexity.  See more information about agency past performance evaluation confidence ratings. Although companies filing a bid protest may see a problem after getting a debriefing, they could lose the protest simply because of failure to articulate the applicable facts as compared to the solicitation’s evaluation requirements.

  • GAO only makes a bid protest decision based on what the protestor writes.

The Government uses a predetermined source selection plan.When contractors decide to file a GAO bid protest, it is important to realize that when the solicitation anticipates the use of a best value evaluation plan–as opposed to selection based on low price and technical acceptability, the source selection evaluation board simply cannot limit evaluations of proposals to only determining whether the offeror’s past performance is merely technically acceptable.

Instead, the agency’s past performance evaluation scores for source selection should be further differentiated to distinguish their relative quality under each stated evaluation factor by considering the degree to which technically acceptable quotations exceed the stated minimum requirements or will better satisfy the agency’s needs.

Past Performance Evaluation Scores Must Follow RFP Requirements: In a best value evaluation when your company’s past performance offers qualitative differences in terms of either relevance or quality, government contracting agencies cannot disregard such information. For example, when an offeror’s subcontract work on the incumbent contract indicates that it may have more specific, relevant past performance than does the awardee, the agency cannot avoid the solicitation’s stated requirements and simply stick to an adjectival score chart.  This is tantamount to not following the solicitation requirements – grounds for filing a GAO bid protest. Find out more about agency source selection plans and technical evaluation criteria.

  • The agency’s failure to consider the relative qualitative merits of your past performance evaluation scores cannot be driven merely by an adjectival rating scheme.

For help filing a bid protest that challenges the agency’s past performance evaluation scores for source selection, call Watson’s bid protest lawyers at 1-866-601-5518. FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.

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